Argentina is the fifth largest producer of wine in the world. Argentine wine, as with some aspects of Argentine cuisine, has its roots in Spain. The wines started being exported during the 1990s, and are currently growing in popularity, making it now the largest wine exporter in South America. The most important wine regions of the country are located in the provinces of Mendoza, San Juan and La Rioja. Salta, Catamarca, Río Negro and more recently Southern Buenos Aires are also wine producing regions. The Mendoza province produces more than 60% of the Argentine wine. Due to the high altitude and low humidity of the main wine producing regions, Argentine vineyards rarely face the problems of insects, fungi, molds and other grape diseases that affect vineyards in other countries. This allows cultivating with little or no pesticides, enabling even organic wines to be easily produced. There are many different varieties of grapes cultivated in Argentina, reflecting the country's many immigrant groups. The French brought Malbec, which makes most of Argentina's best known wines. The Italians brought vines that they called Bonarda, although Argentine Bonarda appears to be the Douce noir of Savoie, also known as Charbono in California. It has nothing in common with the light fruity wines made from Bonarda Piemontese in Piedmont. Torrontés is another typically Argentine grape and is mostly found in the provinces of La Rioja, San Juan, and Salta. Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Chardonnay and other international varieties are becoming more widely planted.
- Item #: i_377406Bottle Size: 750mlBlood orange complements the ripe red berry fruit, with citrus peel and some exotic spices making this a complex nose. The signature acidity greets the palate upfront, with a whack (in the nicest sense) of fruit weight and grippy but supple tannins on the finish.
- Item #: i_378352Bottle Size: 750mlAlamos crafts quality wines from Argentina, offering the best of the country's high altitude vineyards at an incredible value. Alamos grapes are grown at the foothills of the Andes Mountains at elevations of 3,000 to 6,000 feet, where intense sunlight, cool evening temperatures and mineral-rich irrigation from mountain snowmelt translate to bright aromatics and rich flavors. Alamos Chardonnay offers flavors of ripe apple, apricot and peach with layers of tropical fruit. Oak aging lent this wine aromas and flavors of brown spice and butterscotch, creating a full mouthfeel and lingering finish.
- Item #: i_377778Bottle Size: 750mlThe purple-colored Malbec Blend contains 5% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Bonarda. The wine was aged in French and American oak. It offers up a nose of cedar, black cherry, and plum leading to a dense wine with plenty of savory black fruit flavor, a forward personality, and good length.
This organic wine is stored in American and French oak barrels for nine months; a quarter of this time is spent in new oak barrels. Rich dark violet colour. Intense aroma of dark berries and plums. The taste has elegant tones of concentrated fruit, coffee and tannins.
- Item #: i_383441Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 96Founded in 1995 by a group of Italian wine-making luminaries, including Alberto Antonini of Antinori and Antonio Morescalchi, Altos Las Hormigas has always been evolving. Their pioneering Terroir Project is an integral part of the burgeoning appellation system in Mendoza, and strives to show Malbec's diversity of expression according to its origin. After seeing the immense potential of the Uco Valley, the team decided to stop using new oak and small barriques; and instead go with older, untoasted, large oak foudres across the board. Furthermore, they teamed up with Pedro Parra, who many consider to be the world's foremost authority (and only PhD) in terroir, to find the ideal sites for their plantings as well as a way to assess the ideal ripeness of their fruit. Parra literally dug thousands of soil pits in the Uco Valley searching out the spots with the highest concentration of limestone in the soil, and the results are quite simply staggering!
Luis Guitierrez, in Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, awarded it 95 points, commenting: “The [Appellation Gualtallary] Malbec comes from the hottest place (not in temperature, but in terms of market demand) in the Valle de Uco, where the grapes for the 2014 Malbec Appellation Gualtallary are grown. This is significantly cheaper than most wines of this quality…[the tannins] feel very fine-grained."
We couldn't agree more, and feel that this is one of the best Malbecs we've tasted in a long time. An incredible value at $35!
WINE ADVOCATE 96 POINTS - "My favorite of the collection, the 2016 Malbec Appellation Gualtallary is a wild and structured expression of the grape, place and vintage. Produced with grapes grown at 1,300 meters in altitude, it fermented in concrete vats with indigenous yeasts and aged in untoasted 3,500-liter French oak foudres for some 22 months. It comes from two selected plots in Gualtallary and has a very perfumed nose that is intoxicating, with notes of decayed violets, wild herbs and an earthy touch. The palate is pure chalk, with mineral notes, ultra refined tannins and a dry, tasty finish. This has a similar character to the Reserve, with higher minerality and the added freshness of 2016. This has to be one of the best wines ever produced at Altos Las Hormigas. It has the balance to develop nicely in bottle."
- Item #: i_381180Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 92WINE ADVOCATE 92 POINTS - "Produced with grapes from one vineyard in Chacayes in the Valle de Uco, the 2016 BenMarco Malbec is floral, spicy, aromatic, showy and expressive, with great freshness and lots of aromatic herbs, black pepper and flowers. This has both good ripeness and freshness, with very fine tannins. It's a short (the shortest!) vintage with moderate alcohol but good concentration. 200,000 bottles produced. In the last few years, this has been sourced from Altamira." Ben Marco has been one of our favorite value-priced Malbec’s for some time. Showcasing rich, dark fruit and silky tannins, this is a delicious, crowd pleasing wine. It has the concentration and juicy flavors we love along with impressive lift and vibrancy.
- Item #: i_383915Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 93This is the new release of El Enemigo Cabernet Franc from one of the most celebrated winemakers in the world, Alejandro Vigil. Alejandro holds the highest rating ever given to a pure Cabernet Franc wine by Robert Parker's The Wine Advocate, 100 Points awarded to El Gran Enemigo Cabernet Franc from Gualtallary, Mendoza.
What a pleasure to enjoy this wine! The nose is complex, loaded with dark red and blue fruits, a touch of blood orange and notes of forest floor, anise and balsa wood. In the mouth, silky tannins merge into a sexy viscosity as lush fruits lead to layers of earth, black tea, graphite and minerality. Brisk, balancing acidity keeps this wine uplifted and vibrant as red and dark berries take their curtain call at the finish, bowing to extended applause, the flavors lasting and lasting. Bravo!
El Enemigo is a project from two romantics, a winemaker (Alejandro Vigil), and a historian (Adrianna Catena), who go back in time to capture an era when European immigrants recently settled in Argentina, sought to make wines as fine, and finer than those of their homelands.
Adrianna grew up drinking Old-World Bordeaux with her father (Nicolas Catena). She will never forget the first time dad got a shipment of wine from France, and opened a bottle of Cheval Blanc for her. Alejandro served Angelica Zapata Cabernet Franc at his wedding. It's as if both Alejandro and Adrianna were born with a taste for the peppery aromas, grainy tannins and freshness of this variety.
WINE ADVOCATE 93 POINTS - "The 2015 El Enemigo Cabernet Franc was produced with fruit from Gualtallary, from a specific 8.8-hectare plot of the Adrianna Vineyard. It fermented in two tries with a portion of full clusters. It has a beautiful nose with plenty of spices and herbs and some Pinot-like red fruit. The palate is harmonious and balanced, with very fine tannins and a velvety texture."
- Item #: i_377824Bottle Size: 750mlJames Suckling: 95JAMES SUCKLING 95 POINTS - "Aromas of spices, smoke, berries and bark follow through to a medium body, medium round tannins and a wonderful finish. Love the finish of this, which gives a hint of walnuts, dark tea and ripe fruit. Very sophisticated. A blend of Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon."
Bodegas Caro was born of an alliance between two wine cultures, (French and Argentine), two noble grape varieties, (Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec), and two royal families of winemaking, (Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) and Nicolas Catena.) The name of the winery, Bodegas Caro is a contraction of the two family names, CAtena and ROthschild. Their plan was to produce a wine that would combine their expertise and the signature grapes of each producer. Together, these families have made a wine which delivers immediate gratification and can also be cellared over the mid-term.
Malbec is a powerful, exuberant fruity grape variety that benefits from the structure and elegance given by the Cabernet. These two grape varieties go well together with the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. Bodegas Caro has succeeded in making a wine that is flat-out gorgeous and immensely satisfying.
- Item #: i_380678Bottle Size: 750MLWine Advocate: 93WINE ADVOCATE 93 POINTS - "Even after only a few weeks of being bottled, the 2017 A Lisa was expressive, exuberant and open. It has a little less alcohol and more acidity than the 2016 I tasted next to it, but it is especially much cleaner and more focused. It's always a similar blend of grapes from 15- to 40-year-old vineyards, mostly Malbec with 9% Merlot and a pinch of Petit Verdot. It fermented with 10% full clusters and matured in used barriques and stainless steel vats for ten months. 2017 saw a warm couple of weeks around the harvest, but the wines show moderate to low alcohol (lower than 2016) and good freshness in a balanced year. Proprietor and winemaker Hans Vinding Diers compares it to 2011, with mostly red fruit, a touch of black too, juicy and with balanced ripeness. It has a pleasant mouthfeel, with lightness, bright fruit and very nice acidity. I read the note I wrote for the 2013, and the 2016 feels very much like that vintage, certainly closer to the 2013 than 2015, which was riper. 90,000 bottles produced. It was bottled in February 2018."
- Item #: i_380185Bottle Size: 750MLJames Suckling: 93Winemaker Notes - "Intense Bordeaux color with brilliant violet hues. Fresh prunes aromas, dry figs and blackberries. Barrel aromas such as tobacco, vanilla and cedarwood. Sweet and velvety tannins. Great volume and body. Cacao, dark chocolate and subtle coffee notes can be found on its long lasting finish. Pairs perfectly with stews, meat, hard cheese, grilled meat, casseroles, pasta, pizza, spicy dishes and desserts."
Blend: 81% Malbec, 11% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Bonarda
JAMES SUCKLING 93 POINTS - "Tight and focused with chewy yet polished tannins and a lovely texture. Shows tension and intensity. Medium to full body. Flavorful finish. Drink now or hold."
- Item #: i_380795Bottle Size: 750MLWine Advocate: 96James Suckling: 97JAMES SUCKLING 97 POINTS - "Very deep and dark with enormous concentration but also a lot of finesse. There’s some toast and chocolate from oak, as well as great freshness. Stunning harmony and a very long finish that tells a totally fascinating story. A blend of 73% cabernet sauvignon and 27% malbec."
- Item #: i_377329Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 93Vinous Media: 92James Suckling: 94JAMES SUCKLING 94 POINTS - "This deep and layered white shows sliced apple, cream and stone flavors. Full body. Dense yet fresh. Long and flavorful."
WINE ADVOCATE 93 POINTS - "The super fresh and elegant 2015 Catena Alta Chardonnay has penetrating aromas and I could swear I smelled wet stones, a soil-driven white that feels cleaner and sharper than the 2014. The palate has electric acidity, moderate alcohol and great freshness. It finishes with an austere, mineral-driven sensation. It would be fun to put this wine as a ringer in a blind white Burgundy tasting..."
- Item #: i_378528Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 95The epic tale of the noble Malbec grape is like no other, and the label for Catena Zapata Malbec Argentino 2015 pays tribute to the variety’s history in France and its rise in Argentina. Four female figures embody different landmarks in the history of the grape. Today, the Catena family's fourth generation leads the high-altitude renaissance in Argentina, returning Malbec to the sky... where it belongs.
Of course this amazing label caught our interest immediately-- but even without such artwork adorning the bottle, we know the Catena family and family of wines because of the utmost quality found within each bottle that bears their name. That there is such a beautiful label, and one that fits well with this time of year, is really gilding the lily. A 95-point wine from the family that put the wines of Argentina on the map-- sounds like a win-win wine to us!
click HERE to enlarge this picture
SYMBOLISM BEHIND THE LABEL
Eleanor of Aquitaine
Eleanor of Aquitaine represents the birth of Malbec. She is a strong, Old World presence, lingering at the bridge in Cahors, where Malbec came into its own.
Next, the Immigrant symbolizes the movement to the New World and the unknown explorers and adventurers who connected Europe with the Americas.
Phylloxera personifies the death of Malbec in the Old World, which enabled its rebirth in the new.
Finally, there is Bodega Catena Zapata, represented by Adrianna Catena, who depicts birth, earth, and motherhood, sharing the riches of the New World.
WINE ADVOCATE 95 POINTS - "The 2015 Catena Zapata Malbec Argentino blends grapes from Angelica Vineyard in Lunlunta and Nicasia Vineyard in Altamira. It's a classical Malbec that fermented in 225- and 500-liter rolling oak fermentors and matured in French barrique for 18 months. They have changed the image and also the blend for this wine, which is now all from old vines. The label shows the history of Malbec with four relevant women (including Madam Phylloxera!) from the 12th century to the rebirth in the 20th century. This is ripe and heady, very open and expressive, with violets and juicy fruit. This is a new blend to break the tendency of so many single-vineyard bottlings and goes back to the blending traditions of the past. It shows really well—expressive, open and ready. It kept growing and growing in the glass, becoming more focused and even more fresh, at one point getting very close to the freshness of the 2016!"
JANCIS ROBINSON - "Nicolas Catena Zapata is justly credited with putting Argentinean wines on the world map—by the best expedient of focusing entirely on quality. It's great to know he has started a wine dynasty, too."
- Item #: i_380164Bottle Size: 750mlJeb Dunnuck: 90 PointsJEB DUNNUCK 90 POINTS - "The 2016 Chardonnay Appellation Tupungato offers more freshness and vibrancy compared to the Catena Chardonnay, giving up classy notes of pears, melon, and spice, with just a hint of minerality and citrus coming through with time in the glass. Nicely balanced, medium-bodied, and impeccably made, it’s a rock-solid Chardonnay to enjoy over the coming 2-3 years."
- Item #: i_377265Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 91James Suckling: 92WINE ADVOCATE 92 POINTS - "The fresh, floral and expressive 2016 Catena Malbec blends grapes from different parts of Mendoza: Lunlunta, Agrelo, Altamira El Cepillo and Gualtallary. It fermented in stainless steel and matured in French and American oak barrels for an average of 12 months. It's straight and a little austere but has deep flavors. Superb quality for the price and volume. 984,000 bottles produced."
- Item #: i_380668Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 96James Suckling: 97JAMES SUCKLING 98 POINTS - "This is another phenomenal Fortuna Terrae that just rolls across the palate with amazingly complex and beautiful fruit. Full body yet tight and refined. Berry, light meat, mushroom and truffle character. Made from organically grown grapes. Love now."
WINE ADVOCATE 96 POINTS - "The 2014 Adrianna Vineyard Fortuna Terrae is from slightly deeper soils of the Adrianna vineyard in Gualtallary at 1,340 meters in altitude, and it is the "less" expensive of the three Adrianna bottlings. All of these wines ferment in 225- and 500-liter oak barrels and are aged in French barrels for 24 months. This is the one with more exuberant and floral aromas, open and showy within the austere style of the vineyard and the year. This is also the more open of the three. The palate reveals a silky texture with very fine tannins and great freshness."
ANTONIO GALLONI; VINOUS 95+ POINTS - "(from deeper soils than the River Stones bottling, and even higher in acidity; from 22-year-old vines that produced just 1.6 tons per acre of fruit): Bright ruby-red. Crushed blackberry, licorice, minerals and menthol on the nose, lifted by a violet topnote. Penetrating acidity and pungent minerality give the middle palate rapier-like cut. The youthful red berry flavors are compellingly deep and convey an exhilarating tart edge. The rising, palate-staining, floral finish showcases this site's fruit intensity and grip. A great wine in the making. These vines at an altitude of 4,725 feet are planted on calcaire soil similar to that used for the White Bones Chardonnay; the powerful acidity here is just over 5 grams per liter."
- Item #: i_377302Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 93James Suckling: 93JAMES SUCKLING 93 POINTS - "Wonderfully fresh violets on the nose with just a hint of clove. Rich, powerful, creamy and fresh, with a long, polished finish. A serious Argentinian malbec with great balance."
WINE ADVOCATE 93 POINTS
Nicola Catena, immigrated from the Marche region of Italy to Argentina in 1898. In 1902, he planted his first Malbec Vineyard in western Mendoza, an area that has become the heart of Argentina's Winegrowing Region! Today, his Grandson, Nicolas Catena, has been likened to such Industry Icons as Baron Philippe Rothschild, Robert Mondavi and Angelo Gaya! His family winery produces some of the finest wines in the world!
A project that started in the mid 1990's in an effort to produce a super-premium wine, the winemaking team of Catena began an in-depth investigation into the yields from specially selected, high altitude vineyards, identifying the individual rows that produce the best fruit. The Catena Alta Malbec is an assemblage of these historic rows within the Catena family's estate vineyards. Only the best bunches are chosen from these rows in four vineyards with fruit grown at different altitudes (up to 5000 feet above sea-level) to capture the many different expressions of the Malbec varietal. Vineyard lots are harvested at different times to ensure optimal natural acidity and moderate alcohol levels. The blend of these rows, like the blend of musical notes that compose a symphony, creates a wine that is layered and complex, concentrated yet nuanced, and above all else, delicious right now and worthy of further aging!
- Item #: i_382774Bottle Size: 750mlCocodrilo is a new project from Paul Hobbs, with this wine appearing for the first time in the United States. This Cabernet-dominant blend boasts an enviable combination of power and finesse. It is full-bodied with pure, concentrated fruit and is certain to please Hobbs' many fans. Paul Hobbs is well-known for his exceptional California wines, crafting masterful renditions of Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir. When visiting Argentina in 1989, Paul became enamored with its people, the culture and the huge potential for viticulture. He and his Argentine partners founded Viña Cobos and helped take winemaking in Argentina to a new level. He has had great success making premium priced wines and Cocodrilo demonstrates his ability to make a compelling Bordeaux-style blend at an affordable price.
Opaque purple in color. An aromatic display of exotic spices and concentrated black fruits including black currant and black cherry along with notes of cedar and baker's chocolate. On the palate, the wine is full-bodied with mouth-filling crème de cassis, ripe black cherry and blackberry flavors. The tannins are fine-grained and oh so silky. The wine demonstrates stunning purity and finishes with noteworthy length; very impressive.
- Item #: i_380683Bottle Size: 750MLWine Spectator: 92WINE SPECTATOR 92 POINTS; #18 WINE SPECTATOR TOP 100 WINES 2017 - "Refined and rich-tasting, with effusive minerality to the red berry and cherry flavors, layered with plenty of creamy accents. Pepper and cigar box notes show on the long and complex finish. Drink now through 2022."
"A Swiss businessman and Napa vintner Donald Hess bought Bodega Colomé in 2001 and immediately set about modernizing the vineyards and winery in the remote Salta region of the Andes, in the north of Argentina. The estate Malbec, a 100 percent varietal bottling, blends fruit from four vineyards ranging from 5,700 to a dizzying 10,200 feet in altitude; the sun exposure at such elevations promotes thicker skins on berries and thus a more concentrated wine. After 15 months of aging in French oak barriques, this wine spent six months in bottle. It's an expression of a daunting terroir at an approachable price." - Kim Marcus, Wine Spectator
- Item #: i_380452Bottle Size: 750mlThe characteristic white wine grape of Argentina has recently been linked with the Malvasia grape vis-à-vis DNA research. And the wonderful aromas released certainly suggest a Malvasia heritage: notes of peach, apricot, honeysuckle and general floral tones; simply beautiful. The palate echoes the florals and again, stone fruits come to the fore, all enwrappedin a light background minerality.
Substainably farm Vineyards.Sustainable winegrowing not only improves wine quality, but helps to compete in the global market place where consumers are increasingly interested in knowing that the foods and wines they enjoy are produced in an environmentally friendly manner.” Robert P. Koch, President & CEO of the Wine Institute.
- Item #: i_382608Bottle Size: 750mlCuvelier Los Andes is owned by Bertrand and Jean-Guy Cuvelier, part-owners of renowned Bordeaux Chateau Leoville-Poyferre in Saint Julien. The estate is located in the Uco Valley at the foothills of the Andes and encompasses 115 acres of still young vines. The consulting winemaker is Michel Rolland.
- Item #: i_382548Bottle Size: 750mlJames Suckling: 92JAMES SUCKLING 92 POINTS - "Very interesting aromas of dried-fruit, figs and hints of walnuts and spices. Medium to full body, firm and silky tannins and a long, caressing finish, which shows finesse and structure."
Cuvelier Los Andes is a project from Bordeaux's legendary Cuvelier family, owners of Le Crock, Camensac and Léoville-Poyferré. It is bright purple-colored, with an opaque center and a muted nose that requires plenty of air and coaxing to unfurl the heady, ripe black fruit and violet aromas with a lactic overtone. It has a full-bodied palate and a lush texture, thick and dense, with good acidity, freshness and balance. This is a very good, powerful Malbec at a very good price.