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Robin Garr

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Wine Focus for August 2017: Argentina

by Robin Garr » Tue Aug 01, 2017 3:41 pm

Argentina! Home of Malbec and Torrontes and, of course, most of the familiar mass-market varietal wines. I used to be a big fan of Argentina, particularly Malbec, because it was affordable and Euro-style, showing its Italian heritage and flawed, if at all, only by a significant affection for oak. It seems to me that Argentine wines - or those shipped to the U.S., anyway - have shifted toward more of a spoofy style, high in alcohol and ripeness. This is less to my liking, although I have to assume they do it because that's where the market is. Anyway, I'm willing to give it another try, and hope to learn from your posts about what's worth buying. So let's start pulling corks!
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Ken Schechet

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Re: Wine Focus for August 2017: Argentina

by Ken Schechet » Thu Aug 03, 2017 12:27 am

Several years ago I was in Mendoza and found a Malbec I loved then and have been drinking since. It is Rutini and is unfortunately hard to find. It is imported into Florida (we have a significant Argentine population in South Florida), and I can sometimes find it at Total Wine in Palm Beach Gardens. More significantly, there are Argentine food stores and snack bars in Miami and you can always find it there. The winery is known as La Rural and is a must-see if you're in Mendoza. This is not just because of the wine. The place is over 100 years old and they have a museum of old wine making equipment that is great. They sell several lines and in this case you want their best one. It runs roughly $35, give or take, around here. A lovely wine in a very European style, perfect with grilled meat.

Another Malbec I drink a bit is Altos Las Hormigas which you can pick up in Total Wine for $8. To me this is a Holy Grail wine, something very drinkable for under $10. People really like it and I never tell them how much it cost.
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Re: Wine Focus for August 2017: Argentina

by Tim York » Thu Aug 03, 2017 6:40 am

Robin Garr wrote:Argentina! Home of Malbec............


Robin, as a loyal resident of France, I must object to that statement :D . Cahors was making wine from Malbec long before Argentina had been discovered by Europeans. It was extremely popular in the highest circles in Europe until the 18th century due to the grape's aptitude for resisting oxidation.

My experience of Argentinian Malbec and blends of other grapes is limited but I have tended to find many too sweet and thick textured. For my palate Cahors from a good grower is much more classy, leaner textured and full of character. I attended a Franco-Argentinian Malbec festival a few years ago at Cahors and recall an Argentinian oenologist saying that much of their research was going to making less difference in taste between different wines; I think that they are succeeding in that :shock: .

In the past Weinert made some lovely wines in a very classical style but I think that I read somewhere that they are no longer doing so. I particularly remember a remarkable Malbec 1977 made in a rather oxidative manner.

At the Cahors do an Argentinian Malbec from Fabre & Montmayou stood out from the rest by its combination of elegance and power.

We do occasionally see Argentinian wines here but usually only those with a French connection, e.g. Lurton.
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Re: Wine Focus for August 2017: Argentina

by Robin Garr » Thu Aug 03, 2017 9:26 am

Tim York wrote:
Robin Garr wrote:Argentina! Home of Malbec............


Robin, as a loyal resident of France, I must object to that statement :D

Point well made, Tim! :mrgreen:

Let's stipulate that, since this is a difficult topic for Europeans, our friends in the Mother Country are welcome to substitute Cahors (or even Loire Côt?) for the Argentine topic.
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Re: Wine Focus for August 2017: Argentina

by Rahsaan » Fri Aug 04, 2017 12:15 pm

Robin Garr wrote:
Tim York wrote:
Robin Garr wrote:Argentina! Home of Malbec............


Robin, as a loyal resident of France, I must object to that statement :D

Point well made, Tim! :mrgreen:


Maybe it would have been more accurate to say 'Argentina! Specialists in Malbec'
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Re: Wine Focus for August 2017: Argentina

by Robin Garr » Fri Aug 04, 2017 5:53 pm

Rahsaan wrote:Maybe it would have been more accurate to say 'Argentina! Specialists in Malbec'

Well, thinking it over, to some extent my attitude may have been shaped by a trip to Bordeaux about a decade ago. I was curious about Malbec and asked several vignerons about it. Almost unanimously they'd just make a sour face and say they don't use that stuff. So, Cahors, yeah, and a little in the Loire; but as one of the purported Bordeaux varieties, it seems to be gone. They're quite willing to let the Argentines have it.

(Of course, this is France, so I'm quite certain that someone in Bordeaux - maybe several - are still proudly using Malbec. Maybe even a 100% Malbec Bordeaux, although that's pretty hard to imagine. :mrgreen: )
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Re: Wine Focus for August 2017: Argentina

by Ken Schechet » Fri Aug 04, 2017 8:14 pm

Robin, I've been told that Malbec is hard to grow in Bordeaux. It's risky to plant so the farmers there see no point. It's not like anyone is asking for it anyway.
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Re: Wine Focus for August 2017: Argentina

by Robin Garr » Fri Aug 04, 2017 11:05 pm

That fits, Ken. Thanks for the testimony.
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Re: Wine Focus for August 2017: Argentina

by Tim York » Sat Aug 05, 2017 2:38 am

Ken Schechet wrote:Robin, I've been told that Malbec is hard to grow in Bordeaux. It's risky to plant so the farmers there see no point. It's not like anyone is asking for it anyway.


I believe that Malbec is making a modest comeback round Bourg and Blaye. One of my favourite friendlily priced Bordeaux at present is Châteaux Martinat from Côtes de Bourg which contains 20% Malbec.

2012 Château Martinat - France, Bordeaux, Côtes de Bourg (12/5/2016)
This modestly priced Côtes de Bourg from 80% Merlot and 20% Malbec is quite a discovery. Colour deep nearly black. Nose attractive blend of red fruit and cigar box. Palate medium+ bodied showing fresh but quite rich fruit with none of the frequent Merlot cloy, some depth and complexity with grilled meat and more cigar box, fresh acidity, some minerals and a firm structure which no doubt owes something to the 20% Malbec. Good wine, good QPR at c.€9 and worth a repeat purchase.
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Re: Wine Focus for August 2017: Argentina

by Jenise » Sat Aug 05, 2017 3:11 pm

It's going to be a hard job up here to find quality Argentinian wines. They sell well because they're comparatively inexpensive, and most of those who buy pretty much only by price tag are easily pleased. The majority I see are under $15, and they taste like it. But I'll look! Perhaps I'll find something different in B.C. this weekend.
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Re: Wine Focus for August 2017: Argentina

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Mon Aug 07, 2017 8:07 am

2011 Achaval-Ferrer Mendoza Malbec.

Always my go-to Malbec producer, $28 Cdn, cellared 3 yrs, good cork, 14.5% alc.

Nice medium purple color, no sign of bricking. Some sweet fruit right up front on the nose, hint of oak, spice, black cherry.
Initial entry thought is well balanced, soft tannins, pepper finish but not overly hot. Plum, currants..stylish. "Nice black fruits" from across the table. Has a nice presence but those seeking out their regular overly fruity $12 Malbec might not be able to really enjoy this wines pedigree?
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Re: Wine Focus for August 2017: Argentina

by Peter May » Wed Aug 09, 2017 2:14 pm

Robin Garr wrote:
to some extent my attitude may have been shaped by a trip to Bordeaux about a decade ago. I was curious about Malbec and asked several vignerons about it. Almost unanimously they'd just make a sour face and say they don't use that stuff.


I've got a couple of tastings in the next weeks, one is titled 'Meet the Claret Family' and I'm going to show six 100% varietal wines of the six allowed varieties from around the world, plus a 'Bordeaux' blend of 5 of them. I couldn't find a wine that was a blend of all six. but people can make their own!

Other is titled 'Bordeaux' blends, again from around the world.
One of the facts I got from the web was the percentage of plantings in Bdx of all six

90% of Bordeaux production is red = Claret
Only six varieties are allowed to make red Bordeaux, and wines are almost always blends of two or more.
The approved varieties and the proportions planted of each are

- Merlot (62%) Cabernet Sauvignon (25%), Cabernet Franc (12%) total 99%
- Malbec (0.67%), Petit Verdot (0.33%) Carmenère (0.003%) total 1%

99% of reds are made from Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. More Petit Verdot is being planted. Named ‘little green one’ because it rarely ripened by harvest, but nowadays it ripens more reliably and it brings deep colour and rich flavours to a blend


A Medoc cru bourgeois I've been following for decades (Ch Tour St Bonnet) now has
60% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Petit Verdot ,tiny amounts Cabernet Franc & Malbec
they've been, and are continuing, planting more Petit Verdot to replace Cabernet Franc & Malbec

A few years ago I had a Bdx red that has 60% Petit Verdot which was unusual -- and delicious.

A Google found these *

2016 Bolaire Bordeaux Supérieur – Using a unique blend of 60% old vine Petit Verdot, 35% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon produced a wine that is fresh, floral and robust, with sweet, dark, spicy, fruit filled finish

2016 Bel Air la Royere Blaye – Medium bodied, forward, spicy, dark red fruits, earth and thyme, with a juicy finish is what you find here. What makes this wine unique is the large portion of Malbec in the blend, that is often close to 50%.

6 Le Petit Verdot Belle-Vue Vin de France – Opaque, deep in color, with purple accents, this is quite a rarity in Bordeaux, being made from 100% Petit Verdot. The wine is massive, dense, mouth filling, long, spicy and crisp.

at http://www.thewinecellarinsider.com/201 ... es-ratings
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Re: Wine Focus for August 2017: Argentina

by JC (NC) » Wed Aug 09, 2017 3:54 pm

2009 PASCUAL TOSO MALBEC RESERVA. 14.5% abv. This comes across as full of rich, ripe fruit, not subtle, but with a certain appeal. It mellowed out a bit on the fourth and final day (half a glass left in the bottle at that point). Some raspberry flavor, a pleasant nose, soft tannins. Seems to be in a good drinking window. Note was copied from CellarTracker I have other Malbecs and a couple Cabernet Sauvignon bottles from Argentina and may get to one of them at the end of August. From past experience, I can recommend Bodega Catena Zapata Chardonnay Catena Alta. These grapes are grown at a high elevation and the wine comes across as from a cool climate which is the type of Chardonnay I prefer.
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Re: Wine Focus for August 2017: Argentina

by Robin Garr » Fri Aug 11, 2017 1:08 pm

So I found a Mendoza Malbec that was somewhat old-style and not at all spoofy by the simple expedient of looking for the lowest claimed alcohol level on the shelf at Trader Joe's: 13.5%.

Alamos 2015 Mendoza Malbec ($9.99)

Very dark reddish-purple, all but opaque, with glints of ruby against the light.. Luscious red cherries join more subtle brown spices on the nose, leading into a juicy, tart red-cherry and plum flavor framed by crisp acidity, with a touch of freshly ground black pepper joining in. A noticeable buzz of tannic astringency builds in on the side of your tongue as the wine crosses your palate, and a bit of zippy citrus joins cherries, plums and a tannic buzz in a long finish. Mostly Malbec with a small but undisclosed percentage of Syrah and Bonarda in the blend; 13.5% alcohol. U.S. importer: Alamos USA, Hayward, Calif. (Aug. 11, 2017)

FOOD MATCH: Argentina is famous for its beef grilled on the parilla, and it would be hard to imagine a better match for the country's trademark Malbec; smoky grilled vegetables would do the trick, too. We enjoyed it with a quick dinner of pinto beans in a cheese sauce with broccoli.

WHEN TO DRINK: It's just fine now, and the clean Diam technical cork should assure a few years of storage time without cork taint. It's not really intended for long-term aging, though. I'd drink it up in the next year or two unless you have climate-controlled cellar conditions.

VALUE: My local price is within reach of the $9 average U.S. retail price reported by Wine-Searcher.com, which is a very good value for this Argentine table red.

WEB LINK
Here's an English-language promo sheet on the producer's web page[/url].

FIND THIS WINE ONLINE:
Find vendors and check prices for Alamos Mendoza Malbec on Wine-Searcher.com.
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Re: Wine Focus for August 2017: Argentina

by Tim York » Sat Aug 12, 2017 3:38 am

I was surprised to find no less than three Argentinian wines on offer at Monoprix, which is a very slightly more up-market supermarket chain than the likes of Leclerc, Carrefour and Intermarché. This Kutra is one of the two I bought to drink for this thread. I can find little information about this wine on the web and none about the producer who hides under the designation Bodega INV S-70628. The area from which the wine is sourced is in the NW corner of Argentina so is probably quite torrid in spite of the altitude.

2014 Kutra - Argentina, Salta, Calchaquies (8/11/2017)
This wine is a blend of Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah grown at an altitude of 1800 metres. It showed a dark ruby red colour and was medium/full bodied with generous berry fruit, a savoury ivy tang, smooth texture, some spice and chocolate, fair acidity and not a lot of tannic grip on a fairly persistent finish. Not for the long haul, I think, but why wait? Good wine and decent QPR at €10.
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Looking through my tasting notes, I found this one last year at Leclerc.

2012 Clos de los Siete - Argentina, Mendoza, Valle de Uco (3/30/2016)
This bottle was much better than I expected given the combination of Mendoza and Michel Rolland. Full/medium bodied with a hint of sweetness on entry but savoury and leather tinged notes rapidly took over the round dark fruit. There were peppery touches, decent acidity and backbone with none of the expected signs of exaggerated oak treatment. Chinese take-away is a difficult pairing for most reds which it managed effectively and which may have enhanced the acid balance and diminished the impression of sweetness. Good but I need to try it again with a more austere pairing to confirm my impression.
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Last edited by Tim York on Tue Sep 05, 2017 5:48 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Wine Focus for August 2017: Argentina

by John F » Mon Aug 14, 2017 3:58 pm

Achaval - Ferrer is always good....seek that one out
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Re: Wine Focus for August 2017: Argentina

by Jenise » Mon Aug 14, 2017 4:52 pm

Tim, I had one of those Clos de la Siete's at one of Bill Spohn's lunches in the not so recent past. A blind tasting of pretty expert palates who were all stumped that this excellent wine was Argentinian and surprised that the winemaker was Michel Rolland, as it didn't present in the way our minds imagine typical of Rolland's style. It's good to be surprised like that.
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Re: Wine Focus for August 2017: Argentina

by Robin Garr » Sun Aug 27, 2017 4:08 pm

Alamos 2015 Salta Torrontés ($9.99)

Light, transparent straw color with a faint greenish hue. Delicious citric aroma blends mandarin oranges and white grapefruit, which carry over on the palate in a flavor impression so vibrant and fruity that it almost seems sweet, but crisp, zippy fresh-fruit acidity holds it in balance. A touch of stone fruit and faint peach-pit bitterness join citrus in a very long finish. A claimed 13% alcohol level adds a little body, but it's not out of line for a white. U.S. importer: Alamos USA, Hayward, Calif. (Aug. 23, 2017)

FOOD MATCH: The back label suggests spicy empanadas or grilled fish. We enjoyed it with linguine in linguine with a light sauce of free-range eggs briefly cooked in garlic sauteed in butter.

WHEN TO DRINK: These ripe, juicy and fresh flavors call for early drinking, but its sturdy metal screw cap should protect it over the short term. Drink up over the next year or two.

VALUE:
it's a fine value at this local price that matches Wine-Searcher.com's $10 average retail; if you can find it for a couple of bucks less, better still.

WEB LINK
The winery offers this fact sheet on the Torrontés in English on its website.

FIND THIS WINE ONLINE:
Find vendors and compare prices for Alamos Salta Torrontés on Wine-Searcher.com.
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Re: Wine Focus for August 2017: Argentina

by Joe Moryl » Mon Aug 28, 2017 11:03 pm

2015 Verum Pinot Noir, Bodega Del Rio Elorza, Alto Valle del Rio Negro:
Hmm, not much action here in the Argentina wine focus, so I thought what better time to satisfy my curiosity about Patagonian Pinot Noir. It certainly looks like a pinot, with a not super deep ruby color, and a spicy nose that recalls some Oregon pinots. Bright but not sharp on the palate, black cherry, light tar, maybe a well judged touch of oak. Tannins smooth, decent intensity but not globby in any way. Quite decent, especially considering the $15 price tag.
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Re: Wine Focus for August 2017: Argentina

by Tim York » Thu Aug 31, 2017 2:51 am

Both Argentinian wines which I purchased for this thread have pleased me both for their quality and QPR and I may repurchase. It seems from this sample that the Monoprix wine buyers are a reliable filter. This wine has a definite French connection and I suspect that Kutra's coded bottler conceals a Swiss, namely Hess, connection. Not truly representative of Argentine's producers therefore? I need to seek out Achaval Ferrer and Catena, which are available in France but the former at very high prices.

2016 Domaine Jean Bousquet Malbec - Argentina, Mendoza (8/30/2017)
A lot of Argentinian Malbec is thick textured, sweet fruited and somewhat oaky. This wine from organic gapes grown at an altitude of 1200 metres is unlikely to please fans of that style but it pleases me and is closer to the more austere and elegant style of Malbec's mother region, Cahors. Dark coloured with a lively bouquet of anise and quinine tinged raspberry, plum and bramble dominated fruit on the nose, it showed medium/full body with more bright fruit, replay of the aromas from the nose, lean quite silky texture, lively mineral infused acidity and enough tannic grip on a decently long finish to complete the balance. Good+ wine and good QPR at c.€8.
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Re: Wine Focus for August 2017: Argentina

by Tim York » Fri Sep 01, 2017 3:00 am

For the sake of comparison with Wednesday's Jean Bousquet Malbec, I opened this similarly priced Cahors last night.

2012 Clos Triguedina Cahors La Chapelle du Clos - France, Southwest France, Cahors (8/31/2017)
I drank this after the remaining glass of yesterday's Mendoza Malbec and the family resemblance was striking. Indeed I could have taken it for an older vintage of the same wine. Similarly medium/full bodied but rounder, softer fruited, less anise but more overall complexity and fragrance. Good wine and good QPR at c.€9
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Re: Wine Focus for August 2017: Argentina

by Robin Garr » Fri Sep 01, 2017 8:51 am

Tim York wrote:... the family resemblance was striking. Indeed I could have taken it for an older vintage of the same wine. ...

Fascinating! I wish I had thought to try that, Tim. Of course, as you pointed out earlier, you have access to a French-accented Argentine, whereas we get mostly Parker-accented Argentines over here.
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Re: Wine Focus for August 2017: Argentina

by JC (NC) » Fri Sep 01, 2017 7:59 pm

2013 Fabre Montmayou Grand Vin, Mendoza, Argentina. Note from CellarTracker.
Labeled as 14.5% abv. This is a red blend with Malbec as the primary grape with 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Merlot. Viscous; leaves teardrops on the sides of the glass. It's a very dark purple color with a crimson rim. On the nose and palate this is very juicy, very fruity with a mix of dark fruits, and also quite earthy. The Malbec stands out, marking this as Argentinian, not Bordeaux. Some fuzzy tannins persist on the finish Lacking past experience with this wine, I'm not sure if it would benefit from 3-5 years more aging. Both yesterday and today my menu did not pair well with the wine so tonight I had two glasses before dinner and will have unsweetened iced tea with dinner. Tomorrow I will finish the bottle with strip steak. I am rating it as 89-90 points. Professional critics have rated it higher (93 or 94 points.) It is in a ripe, New World style which may or may not appeal to the individual but it is well made. I like it quite a bit although it is not the type of wine I normally seek out. One of my friends is a fan of Malbec so I will replace this bottle for when she visits.

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