TIM ATKIN

2012 ARGENTINA

Special Report

Argentina 2012 Tasting Notes Red Wines
2001 Nicolás Catena Zapata
14%, Mendoza, Drink: 2012-18 I’ve had this incredible wine on five separate occasions and it remains the finest Argentinian red I’ve tasted. It’s a nuanced, well-balanced blend of mostly Cabernet Sauvignon with 12% Malbec that wouldn’t look out of place in Tuscany, the Napa Valley or even the Médoc. Leafy, cassis flavours, seamless oak, very fine, granular tannins and a polished, lingering finish. Ageing beautifully.

2008 Pulenta Estate Gran Corte
14.6%, Mendoza, Drink: 2012-20 Given the high prices of some of its rivals, this superlative blend of Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc is a bargain. It’s dense, sweetly oaked and stylishly proportioned, with polished, grainy tannins, leafy, subtle elegance and a fine, lingering finish. This is right up there with the best wines of the southern hemisphere. The 2009 is superb, too.

2008 Bressia Monteagrelo Malbec
13.5%, Agrelo, Drink: 2012-18 In a country where a lot of wines taste as if they are trying too hard to please, this is an effortless, low key wine from one of the most experienced oenologists in the country. Harmonious, elegant and complex, with silky tannins and flavours that owe as much to Pinot Noir as they do to Malbec

2009 Cobos Malbec
14%, Luján de Cuyo, Drink: 2012-18 Paul Hobbs has noticeably reduced the alcohol level on this vintage of Cobos, a new blueprint for this iconic red. It’s fresher, finer and better balanced than the 2008, with more acidity, haunting violet and blackberry perfume, very stylish tannins and a rich, refined finish. Let’s hope Hobbs’ example will inspire others.

2006 Nicolás Catena Zapata
14.5%, Mendoza, Drink: 2013-20 A wine that is nearly as good as the superlative 2001 release – and may well equal it with time – this blend of Cabernet Sauvignon with 30% Malbec and 10% each of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot is a delicious wine, showing smoky oak, sweet fruit, structured yet fine tannins and good ageing potential.

© 2012 Tim Atkin MW

Page 18

TIM ATKIN

2012 ARGENTINA

Special Report

2009 Achaval Ferrer Finca Altamira Malbec
14%, Mendoza, Drink: 2013-20 Old vines from La Consulta in the Uco Valley, 100% new oak, unfined and unfiltered and made from very low yields: no one could accuse Robert Cipresso of making a simple wine. Violet-perfumed, dense, yet refreshing with a hint of ripasso-like sweetness, some volatile acidity and a long, well structured finish.

2007 Achaval Ferrer Finca Altamira Malbec
13.5%, Mendoza, Drink: 2014-20 One of the two best recent releases from this pioneering, quality-focused winery. Concentrated, dense, almost opaque with compact tannins. Intense, sweet oak, heat (but not high alcohol), fleshy and subtle with Italianate acidity and length. Still young, with a little puppy fat and reduction to lose, but a superb wine that justifies Achaval Ferrer’s position as one of Argentina’s star bodegas.

2006 Bressia Conjuro
13.5%, Mendoza, Drink: 2012-18 The top wine at Walter Bressia’s family estate (a blend of 50% Malbec with 30% Cabernet and 20% Merlot) is another very subtle red. It’s European in style: complex, minerally and pure with freshness, refined tannins and well- integrated oak. A winemaker who dares to be different in Argentina.

2006 Bressia Profundo
14 %, Mendoza, Drink: 2012-18 Walter Bressia only made 666 cases of this, but there’s nothing diabolical about it. It’s a very subtle blend of four grapes (50% Malbec supported by Cabernet, Merlot and Syrah), made to last, but with freshness and nuance. The tannins and fruit are beautifully intertwined, with spice, subtle oak and lovely texture.

2008 Catena Zapata Malbec, Adrianna Vineyard
14%, Uco Valley, Drink: 2014-22 This high altitude Uco Valley vineyard is currently producing some of the best grapes (and wines) in Argentina. The wine is still very youthful, with rich, plum, raspberry and violet flavours, lots of toasty oak and a savoury finish. But the acidity gives it freshness and promises a long life ahead.

2008 Cobos Malbec
15.3%, Luján de Cuyo, Drink: 2012-20 There’s quite a difference in style between this and the more elegant 2009 Cobos, but they are both superb wines. Deep, almost saturated purple, with a rich, ripe, abundantly aromatic nose, finely judged oak, silky tannins, flavours of plum and sweet fruits and a smooth, complex finish. Hedonism in a glass.

2008 Pulenta Estate Gran Cabernet Franc
14.5%, Luján de Cuyo, Drink: 2012-18 Made entirely from grapes grown in Agrelo (note for anoraks: the clones came from Italy), this is a brilliant wine that would put many a Right Bank Bordeaux to shame. Subtle, supple and grassy, with seamless tannins, notes of red fruits, wood smoke and graphite and well-integrated oak and alcohol. A wine of remarkable finesse and balance.

© 2012 Tim Atkin MW

Page 19

TIM ATKIN 2012 ARGENTINA Special Report

2008 Riglos Gran Malbec
15.5%, Uco Valley, Drink: 2012-16 This is certainly a pretty powerful wine, especially for a red produced at altitude in the Uco Valley, but it’s still balanced. Ripe plum and mocha notes are joined by Syrah-like notes of dill and a hint of pepper spice. The oak is expertly handled, the fruit plush, yet somehow refreshing, even at 15.5%.

2007

Andeluna Grand Reserve Cabernet Franc

14.5%, Tupungato, Drink: 2012-18 Give or take the alcohol, this could almost have been produced in Bordeaux or the Loire Valley, such is its fidelity to cool climate Cabernet Franc. Aromatic, very stylish and sweetly oaked, with grassy, elegant fruit flavours and notes of green pepper and cassis. A delicious wine that underscores the variety’s potential in the Uco.

2009 Caro
15%, Mendoza, Drink: 2015-20 Expensive by name, and also by price tag, but what else would you expect from a joint venture between Château Lafite and Argentina’s best producer, Catena? The wine lives up to the hype. It’s very young, very focused, very concentrated, yet there’s freshness and elegance here too. The tannins are particularly fine, whilst the blend of Malbec and Cabernet is deftly handled.

2000

Catena Alta Cabernet Sauvignon

13.5%, Mendoza, Drink: 2012-14 This is coming to the end of its life, but it’s still a very impressive wine that stands comparison with almost any Cabernet produced on the other side of the Andes in Chile. Leafy, elegant and fine, with supple tannins and great length, it’s a wine to open and drink right now.

1999

Catena Alta Cabernet Sauvignon

14.5%, Mendoza, Drink: 2012-18 A wine that will outlive the 2000 vintage of the same wine, possibly because it is pure Cabernet, rather than blended with 15% Malbec. Structured and quite firm, this wouldn’t look out of place on the Left Bank of Bordeaux. Leafy, mature and complex with balanced acidity and beautiful definition.

2006

Catena Zapata Malbec Argentino

14.5%, Uco Valley, Drink: 2012-15 It’s good to see a top Argentine Malbec with a little bottle age, especially one that has aged as well as this. The 24 months in oak have been soaked up by the concentration of the wine, which is starting to show bottle-aged notes of dried herbs and sweet, almost gamey fruit underpinned by acidity and a hint of mint.

2004

Cheval des Andes

13.5%, Vistalba, Drink: 2012-20 Despite being older, this is brighter, fresher and more aromatic than the slightly chewy 2007. The wine has lift, length, fruit sweetness, grainy tannins and chalky minerality on the finish. It’s very much an Argentinian wine, but you can sense the hand of a master Bordeaux winemaker at work here.

© 2012 Tim Atkin MW

Page 20

TIM ATKIN 2012 ARGENTINA Special Report

2008

Cobos Unico, Marchiori Vineyard

15.3%, Mendoza, Drink: 2012-18 Paul Hobbs’ Cabernet/Malbec blend is everything you’d expect from one of the New World’s best winemakers. It’s a big wine, with sweet, concentrated fruit flavours and pronounced alcohol, but it’s still in balance, showing flavours of coffee, cedarwood, plum and red fruits, abundant aromatics and a rich, mouthcoating texture. The wine has the intensity to age further.

2008

De Angeles Viña 1924 Gran Malbec

15.5%, Mendoza, Drink 2012-16 It’s no surprise that Michel Rolland is the consultant here – look at the alcohol level on the label and taste the ripeness and plushness of the fruit. But this old vine Malbec is much more than a paint-by-numbers red. It’s savoury, sweet and complex with polished tannins, notes of plum and liquorice, cinnamon spice and sweet oak. The wine is long, stylish and beautifully proportioned.

2008

Fabre Montmayou Grand Vin

14.5%, Vistalba, Drink: 2012-18 Hervé Joyaux’s wines are some of the most seamless and nuanced in Argentina, showing a subtlety that is typical of the man himself. This Malbec dominated blend is perfumed, poised and very long with attractive red fruits’ flavours, sweet oak, fresh acidity and a sheen of international polish.

2008

Masi Corbec

14.5%, Tupungato, Drink: 2012-18 I slightly prefer this to the 2009 vintage of the same wine, but that may be because it has had an extra year in bottle. There’s more than a hint of Amarone here: figgy and concentrated with pepper spice. The wine has good acidity, firm tannins and a long, stylish finish. A one-off, but a glorious one.

2008

Mendel Finca Remota Malbec

14.2%, Altamira, Drink: 2015-22 Sourced from 60-year-old vines in the cooler area of Altamira in the Uco Valley, this is a very serious red, bolstered even further by the inclusion of 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. Oenologist Roberto de la Mota has fashioned a modern, aromatic, beautifully refined Malbec that is built to age: tannic, dense, showing sweet cedarwood and blackberry notes that will evolve and deepen in bottle.

2009

Mendel Finca Remota Malbec

14.2%, Altamira, Drink: 2015-25 Roberto de la Mota has done it again in 2009, replicating the quality of his 2008 from this special Uco Valley plot. The slightly warmer vintage gives the wine a little more flesh, but this is still a very refined, almost Bordeaux-like red with fine-boned tannins, sweet oak and a fine, leafy finish. Outstanding stuff.

2009 Norton Privada
14.5%, Mendoza, Drink: 2015-20 A wine that is just starting to develop in bottle, this is a very classy, polished red with sweet blackberry and fig jam flavours, fine tannins, subtle oak and more structure than is immediately apparent. A red that builds gently on the palate, promising much more as it ages. Long and beautifully balanced.

© 2012 Tim Atkin MW

Page 21

TIM ATKIN 2012 ARGENTINA Special Report

2009

Piattelli Grand Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

14.5%, Tupungato, Drink: 2014-20 The owners of this comparatively new winery claim that their wines are specifically targeted at the American market, but that seems too narrow a focus, given the finesse and balance of this Cab. It’s very alluring on the nose, with aromas of mint and dried herbs. The palate is sweet, nuanced and very classy.

2008

Trapiche Malbec Federico Villafañe

15%, La Consulta, Drink: 2015-22 This is an amazing wine, even by the high standards of these singe grower releases. It’s a rich, plummy, lavishly oaked Malbec with layers of tannin and fruit underpinned by acidity and concentration. Spicy, old vine complexity lends this an extra dimension. Worth buying by the case and cellaring, if there’s any left.

2009

Trapiche Malbec Finca Suarez Lastra

14.5%, Altamira, Drink: 2014-20 Altamira tends to produce slightly fresher wines than most parts of Mendoza, and that’s certainly the case here on this grower-sourced wine. There’s lots of coffee bean oak, but the wine is profound, concentrated and refreshing. The old vine richness really shines through, as does the finesse of the tannins.

2008 Yacochuya
15%, Cafayate, Drink: 2012-16 Made in a slightly cooler vintage, this is comparatively elegant by the standards of Yacochuya, despite the high alcohol. It’s less reliant on oak than some recent releases, with notes of spice, cassis and green pepper, medium weight tannins and underlying minerality and freshness. Complex and very long on the palate.

2004

Achaval Ferrer Finca Altamira Malbec

13.9%, Mendoza, Drink: 2012-18 More backward than the 2005 from the same vineyard, this is like a cross between a Rhône Syrah and an Aglianico. Leafy, mature and complex with a meaty, peppery lift, marked acidity and dry, Italianate tannins.

2006

Altos Las Hormigas Single Vineyard Malbec

14.6%, Uco Valley, Drink: 2012-18 Italian Alberto Antonini seems to have a special understanding of Malbec in Argentina. This deeply coloured, structured red from Vista Flores is built to last and is ageing gracefully: concentrated, savoury/sweet, with flavours of plum and blueberry, subtle oak and a fresh, palate-cleansing finish.

2008

Andeluna Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve

14.9%, Tupungato, Drink: 2012-18 Just to prove that you can’t pigeonhole the man, this wine was made by Michel Rolland, who is better known for his skills with Merlot and Malbec. The tannins are very fine, while the wine is leafy and well balanced with a balsamic note, subtle oak and a long, textured finish. A very poised wine.

© 2012 Tim Atkin MW

Page 22

TIM ATKIN 2012 ARGENTINA Special Report

2009 Bramare Malbec
15%, Luján de Cuyo, Drink: 2012-16 The more impressive of the two “terroir concept” Malbecs from Paul Hobbs. Aromatic red fruits on the nose are followed by something denser, richer and darker on the palate, with silky tannins, stylish oak integration and a long, seamless finish. A good value alternative to Cobos.

2008

Catena Alta Cabernet Sauvignon

14%, Mendoza, Drink: 2016-22 Still a youthful wine (I’d drink one of the older ones while you wait for this to develop) but a delicious expression of modern Argentinian Cabernet Sauvignon. Aromatic cassis and red fruits, hints of ginger and vanilla and a lovely underlying freshness. A class act that needs cellaring.

2009

Chakana Estate Ayni Malbec

14.5%, Mendoza, Drink: 2013-18 There’s a lot of expensive lumber on this wine, but it’s gently folded into the wine. Very aromatic, very svelte, very well balanced, this is a claret drinker’s Malbec with grainy tannins, bright, perfumed fruit, tangy acidity and ripe flavours of black cherry and raspberry.

2009

Chakana Estate Selection Malbec

14%, Mendoza, Drink: 2013-18 Think of this wine as a case of Cahors meets Mendoza: it has the some of the structure of the former with the perfume and fruit sweetness of the latter. Intense, modern, profoundly coloured, with dark liquorice and plum notes and the concentration and freshness to develop in bottle. Graceful and nuanced.

2008

Colomé Malbec Reserva

15.9%, Calchqui Valley, Drink: 2013-18 There’s no denying that this is a big, plush, concentrated style of wine, most of it sourced from old vineyards on the Colomé estate, nor that it is a little pruney. But it’s sweet and complex, too, with plum, blackberry and liquorice notes, dense, tarry tannins and impressive structure and length.

2008

De Angeles Viña 1924 Malbec

14.8%, Mendoza, Drink: 2012-16 Not far behind the Gran Malbec from the same winery in terms of colour, concentration and richness, this inky, ripe, raspberry coulis-like red is very impressive in a super-charged way, with aromas and flavours of tar, leather and stewed plums and a leafy, yet rich finish. Half the price of the Grand Vin, too.

2008

Diamandes de Uco Reserva

14.5%, Uco Valley, Drink: 2012-20 This is the most elegant wine to come out of the Clos de los Siete project, a ripe, but not over-ripe blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec owned by the proprietors of Château Malartic-Lagravière. Fine and aromatic, with sweet oak, supple bramble, cassis and raspberry fruit and real concentration.

© 2012 Tim Atkin MW

Page 23

TIM ATKIN 2012 ARGENTINA Special Report

2009

Mendel Unus

14.3%, Perdriel, Drink: 2012-20 Blending is arguably what Roberto de la Mota does best and the combination of 70% Malbec with 30% Cabernet is characteristically well handled here. This is a taut, tightly wound style that is meant to unfurl in bottle. The 100% new oak is very well integrated, while the fruit is underpinned by acidity and minerality. An estate whose wines are getting better with every vintage.

2010

Noemía 2

12.5%, Río Negro, Drink: 2014-20 “This should shame the Bordelais,” says Hans Vinding-Diers. It’s certainly an accomplished, Cabernet-based Bordeaux style blend and the first release of this wine since 2007. It’s leafy, refreshing and low in alcohol, but with very fine tannins and good underlying intensity.

2010

Noemía J Alberto Malbec

13%, Río Negro, Drink: 2013-20 J Alberto is sourced from eight different blocks at Noemía and is the estate’s second wine. It doesn’t taste like it in 2010, mind you, because this is as good as the headline release. It’s perfumed, light and almost Sangiovese-like with sweet raspberry fruit, fresh, cool climate acidity and a balanced, spicy finish.

2008

Riglos Gran Cabernet Sauvignon

15.2%, Uco Valley, Drink: 2013-17 This high altitude Cabernet wears its 15%+ alcohol extremely lightly, such is the freshness of its acidity and its balanced tannins. It’s deeply coloured and aromatic, made in a floral, well-balanced style, with excellent oak integration and a sweet mint and blackcurrant-laced palate. An estate to watch.

2008

Riglos Gran Corte

15.2%, Tupungato, Drink: 2012-18 A wine that tastes as good as it looks, this blend of Malbec, Cabernet Sauvigon and Cabernet Franc displays that classic Argentinian combination of ripeness, texture and sweet fruit, offset by fresh acidity. This is a typical Uco red, showing ageing potential as well as immediate drinkability.

2004

Trapiche Iscay

14.5%, Mendoza, Drink: 2012-14 This proves that Daniel Pi’s blend of Merlot and Malbec (in equal parts, if you’re interested) ages well in bottle. The wine is almost claret like, with well-integrated vanilla oak, notes of Christmas cake and red fruits, subtle tannins and subtle acidity. The wine is long and stylish.

2007

Trapiche Malbec Fausto Orellana de Escobar

14.5%, La Consulta, Drink: 2014-20 The quality of old vine fruit from La Consulta (the source of some of the New World’s best reds) is all too apparent here. Notes of dill and spice, allied to lots of oak, make this smell almost Rioja-like, but the palate is much denser and sturdier, with the structure and the weight to age.

© 2012 Tim Atkin MW

Page 24

TIM ATKIN

2012 ARGENTINA

Special Report

2008

Trapiche Malbec Jorge Miralles

15%, La Consulta, Drink: 2012-20 It’s hard to decide between these Trapiche grower Malbecs, such is the consistency of the selections from year to year. This Uco Valley example is quite oaky, but has the texture and fruit to cope. It’s just starting to move into a secondary phase, with leafy, gamey characters beginning to show.

2008

Zuccardi Aluvional

14%, La Consulta, Drink: 2014-20 The Zuccardi winery has raised its sights since Sebastian joined his father, José, in running the business, an improvement that is underlined by the quality of this Uco Valley Malbec. There’s quite a bit of new oak here, but it’s balanced by richness and (more importantly) freshness, with mint, sage and blackberry sweetness.

2

2008 Achaval Ferrer Finca Altamira Malbec
13.5%, Mendoza, Drink: 2012-15 It may not have quite the class of the 2009 or the 2007 from the same Uco Valley vineyard, but this is still a classy wine. On the light side for an Achaval Ferrer red, with considerable elegance, polished tannins, fresh acidity and liquorice and black fruits folded into the texture of the wine.

2004 Achaval Ferrer Quimera
13.9%, Mendoza, Drink: 2012-15 Proof that these wines do age in bottle, despite what some critics say. This is almost Brunello-like in aroma, flavour and structure, despite the Bordeaux varieties in the blend. Liquorice, fine if firm tannins and a gamey, slightly feral sweetness on the palate make this a rather unusual wine for Mendoza.

2007 Alta Vista Alto
15%, Mendoza, Drink: 2013-20 This is a complex Bordeaux-meets-Argentina style blend of 70% Malbec and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon made by the talented Philippe Rolet. Designed to age in bottle, this is the current release, a smoky, refined, well balanced red with notes of cherry and blackberry and fine, lingering acidity.

2005 Alta Vista Alto
15%, Mendoza, Drink: 2015-22 Made in a cool vintage, which seems to suit the Alto style, this blend of 75% Malbec with Cabernet Sauvignon as a supporting partner is very European in style: grassy, elegant, yet quite firm, with a nice tango between fruit and tannin on the palate and a complex, refreshing finish.

2007

Alta Vista Serenade Single Vineyard Malbec

15%, Mendoza, Drink: 2012-19 The single vineyard in question is located on clay coils close to the Cobos winery. It’s quite marked by oak with broad, textured fruit, mulberry, violet and incense notes and a sweet, satisfying finish. It’s the biggest and ripest of the wines from this French-influenced winery.

© 2012 Tim Atkin MW

Page 25

TIM ATKIN 2012 ARGENTINA Special Report

2

2008 Bramare Marchiori Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
15%, Perdriel, Drink: 2012-17 Paul Hobbs made his name in California with Cabernet Sauvignon, so it’s no surprise that he knows how to handle the grape in Argentina, too. This single vineyard wine from Perdriel is rich and concentrated, with lots of cassis and graphite flavours, savoury oak and the structure and balance to age.

2010

Doña Paula Estate Malbec

14.2%, Ugarteche, Drink: 2013-20 Deliberately made in a refreshing style, according to Edy del Popolo, this is sourced from Finca El Alto in Ugarteche. It’s an elegant style with aromas of potpourri and ginger spice, sweet red fruits and a dusting of oak. Ripe, but not jammy, this is a very stylish wine, heralding a significant leap forward in quality.

2009 Doña Paula Selección Malbec
14.5%, Mendoza, Drink: 2012-16 For me, this is one of the most exciting wines yet from this under-rated winery, a blend of 70% Gaultallary and 30% Luján fruit. It’s fresh, zesty and peppery – almost cool climate Syrah-like, in fact – with understated tannins, good acidity and gently integrated oak.

2007 El Tránsito Pietro Marini Reserva Roble Malbec/Cabernet
14%, Cafayate, Drink: 2012-16 The American oak is sensitively handled on this Cafayate blend, adding a sheen of vanilla sweetness. The underlying wine is gentle and elegant, with fine tannins, leafy, refreshing fruit flavours and a savoury finish. These are wines that age gracefully, conveying the finesse of the terroir.

2009

Humberto Canale Merlot Gran Reserva

14%, Río Negro, Drink: 2012-15 Horacio Bibiloni makes some of the most elegant, understated wines in Argentina, typified by this soft, leafy, aromatic red. It’s quite forward in style, with flavours that are almost Cabernet Franc-like, but a pleasure to drink, with fine, supple tannins and a lift of acidity on the finish. Very Río Negro.

2009

Lagarde Primeras Viñas Malbec

14.9%, Mendoza, Drink: 2015-20 Great label, great wine. This is made from 100-year-old vines and it has the density and concentration to prove it. Ripe and bold, with a touch of volatility, thick, muscular tannins, flavours of fig and sweet plum, lots of alcohol and enough acidity for balance. A traditional style, but an appealing one.

2009

Lindaflor Malbec, Bodega Monteviejo

15.5%, Uco Valley, Drink: 2012-15 Super rich, super ripe, super concentrated. Super everything, really. This is an explosive wine with masses of oak and sweet kirsch, plum and blackberry fruit and a dusting of Asian spices. I’m not convinced the wine will age well, but most of it will be drunk young, so that probably doesn’t matter.

© 2012 Tim Atkin MW

Page 26

TIM ATKIN 2012 ARGENTINA Special Report

2

2009 Masi Corbec
14.5%, Tupungato, Drink 2012-16 Made from what may well be the only Corvina grapes planted in the Uco Valley combined with Malbec – hence the brand name: Cor+bec – this is a fascinating wine, with drier, firmer tannins than many Argentinian wines and a firmer backbone. The oak is very subtle here, balanced by plum and black cherry fruit with undertones of tobacco and liquorice.

2008

Michel Torino Altimus

14.5%, Cafayate, Drink: 2014-19 The precise blend of this wine changes from year to year – this one is 52% Malbec, 34% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Syrah and 8% Bonarda – but it is consistently one of the best reds in Cafayate. Lots of oak, lots of tannin, lots of flavour: mint, cassis, violets and appealing freshness and length. An ambitious wine that will develop further in bottle.

2007

Salentein Numina

14%, Uco Valley, Drink: 2012-16 This Uco Valley blend of Malbec and Merlot is very much a cool climate style. It’s quite a soft, easily approachable red with aromatic fruit that could easily be mistaken for Pinot Noir, were it not for the nip of tannin on the finish. Perfumed and complex with silky tannins and sweet oak.

2008

San Pedro de Yacochuya

15.4%, Cafayate, Drink: 2012-15 This is the second wine of Yacochuya, but it’s still a tasty wine in its own right, made with 80% Malbec and 20% Cabernet and aged in second use oak for a year. It’s almost Rhône-like, with notes of black olive and lavender, some pepper spice and a hint of volatility. Unusual, certainly, but full of personality.

2009

Trapiche Malbec Domingo F Sarmiento

14.5%, La Consulta, Drink: 2014-20 Trapiche have used the grapes from this grower on more than one occasion for their series of three top-named Malbecs, and you can see why. The wine is rich and aromatic, with lovely sweet, toasty oak, fine tannins and plush, yet refreshing fruit. A wine that will reward cellaring.

2007

Trapiche Malbec Domingo F Sarmiento

14.5%, La Consulta, Drink: 2012-16 By the standards of these Trapiche releases, this is a little less of a fruit bomb, with tannins and structure to spare on the palate. There’s a touch of prune and fig showing through, suggesting that the fruit is on the ripe side, but this is still a dense, complex, and very well made wine.

2006

Trapiche Malbec Federico Villafañe

14.5%, La Consulta, Drink: 2012-18 As if to prove that there is such as thing as vintage variation in the Uco Valley, this is a very different wine from the same grower’s 2008. It’s more elegant and perfumed with chocolate, spice and sweet fruit on the nose, subtle, grainy tannins and a long, supple finish. Essence of old vine Malbec.

© 2012 Tim Atkin MW

Page 27

TIM ATKIN 2012 ARGENTINA Special Report

2

2006

Trapiche Malbec Viña Adriana Venturín

14.5%, San Carlos, Drink 2012-16 There’s a slightly cakey, developed note to this wine, which suggests that it may not make old bones, but it’s still a very serious red, with lots of sweet, currant and fig-like fruit, serious tannins and a sheen of sweet oak. The wine is rich and palate-caressing with a long, complex finish.

2003 Yacochuya
15.9%, Cafayate, Drink: 2012-13 A wine that is still commercially available on some markets (the estate likes to release its reds with bottle age) this is typical of the Yacochuya style: idiosyncratic, yet surprisingly elegant for its alcohol level. Behind the slighty pruney flavours, there are notes of raspberry and black cherry, a lift of volatility and medium weight tannins. Still, time to drink up.

2010

Zuccardi Emma Zuccardi Bonarda

13.5%, Santa Rosa, Drink: 2012-18 This comes from the Zuccardi family’s home vineyard in Santa Rosa, grown on high trellises, the traditional way. It’s floral and intense, with hints of smoke, soft red fruit, ripe tannins and just a touch of oak. The wine manages to avoid the comparative rusticity of Bonarda with considerable skill.

1

2005

Achaval Ferrer Finca Altamira Malbec

13%, Mendoza, Drink: 2012-14 A wine that is showing very little evolution in terms of colour, but quite a bit on the nose and palate. There’s a little bit of mushroom here, a feral undertone and a lift of volatility, but the wine still works in an evolved, fairly old-fashioned style.

2004

Achaval Ferrer Finca Bella Vista

13.9%, Perdriel, Drink: 2012-15 You won’t find much of this on the open market, but it does show how long the Bella Vista wines take to come round in bottle, having the most structure and backbone of the Achaval Ferrer wines. It’s still quite chewy, but there’s enough acidity and, crucially, sweet, savoury fruit for balance.

2002

Achaval Ferrer Finca Mirador

14%, Mendoza, Drink: 2012-14 You meet aromas and flavours in the wines of Achaval Ferrer that don’t exist anywhere else in Mendoza. This one has notes of lavender, incense and pine resin. The tannins, again, are reminiscent of a good Brunello di Montalcino, with acidity underpinning the wine’s mature, leafy flavours.

2009

Alta Vista Atemporal

15%, Uco Valley, Drink: 2012-17 An unsual blend of Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Petit Verdot in which none of the varieties dominates on the nose or palate. A little pruney perhaps, but this is sweet and complex with enough acidity to prevent the wine becoming ponderous. Not as fresh as the best Alta Vista wines.

© 2012 Tim Atkin MW

Page 28

TIM ATKIN 2012 ARGENTINA Special Report

1

2007

Alta Vista Temis Single Vineyard Malbec

15%, El Cepillo, Drink: 2012-17 The chalky notes in this wine are more than imaginary, given that the grapes from which it is made were grown on limestone at the southern end of the Uco Valley. It’s aromatic and fine, with an evident French touch, red fruits, medium weight tannins and a zesty, refreshing finish.

2010

Altos Las Hormigas Malbec Terroir

14.4%, Uco Valley, Drink: 2012-17 Alberto Antonini draws on different fruit sources in the Uco Valley to achieve the balance he’s after in this wine. A third of the wine is unoaked, and the result is a subtle Malbec, rather than a fruit bomb, showing welcome minerality, subtle oak, cherry and blackberry fruit and appealing length and complexity.

2011

Argento BSM

14%, Mendoza, Drink: 2013-16 If you thought Argento was just an entry point brand, designed to be fruity but undemanding, this wine might change your mind. BSM stands for Bonarda, Syrah and Malbec (and I’m sure there’s a white grape in here, too) and the blend is very successful: medium bodied, aromatic and surprisingly refined.

2009 Bramare Cabernet Sauvignon
15%, Luján de Cuyo, Drink: 2012-17 Inky, concentrated, well-structured Cabernet made in a Napa Valley meets Mendoza style. Plum, cassis, lead pencil and Asian spices are the dominant flavours here, framed by lots of new oak. It’s something of an international wine, but it’s a very well made one with the concentration to develop in bottle.

2009 Bramare Malbec Rebón Vineyard
14.8%, Uco Valley., Drink: 2012-14 Sourced entirely from La Consulta, the Malbec sweet spot of the Uco Valley, this unfined and unfiltered red is flirting with over-ripeness, with an undertone of fruitcake, but there’s also some nice fig and plum fruit, offset by aromatic cigarbox and vanilla oak. The tannins are surprisingly powerful here.

2008 Bressia Monteagrelo Syrah
14% Mendoza. Drink: 2012-16 This isn’t quite up to the remarkable standards of Walter Bressia’s other top reds, but it’s still a pretty serious Syrah. As ever, the emphasis is on balance and freshness rather than over-ripe fruit, with sweet tannins and good acidity, but there’s just a hint of bitterness on the finish.

2007 Bressia Profundo
14%, Mendoza, Drink: 2015-20 Compared with the 2006, this is more reductive and closed, but maybe it just needs some time in bottle (or air in a decanter) to open up. It’s a blend of mostly Malbec with 30% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% each of Merlot and Syrah. The tannins are firmer here, but the structure and balance are still impressive.

© 2012 Tim Atkin MW

Page 29

TIM ATKIN 2012 ARGENTINA Special Report

1

2009

Catena Zapata Vista Flores Malbec

13.5%, Mendoza, Drink: 2013-17 A new, mid-priced label from Catena, made in a Malbec-meets-Pinot-Noir style, with light tannins, good finesse and freshness, perfumed cinnamon oak and very good palate length. This winery does Malbec better than anyone – and at every level. A label to watch.

2010

Chacra Barda Pinot Noir

12%, Patagonia, Drink: 2012-15 I usually prefer the single vineyard releases from this Río Negro estate, but the 2009s and 2010s are a little disappointing. While we await the 2011s, this more approachable Pinot is the best Chacra red on the market right now. It’s sweet and approachable with wild strawberry notes and subtle oak.

2007

Cheval des Andes

14%, Vistalba, Drink: 2012-18 We’ve come to expect such great things from Pierre Lurton of Château Cheval Blanc (and the consultant here), that this is a slight disappointment when tasted alongside top vintages like 2004. But it’s still a complex blend: savoury and sweet, with plenty of fruit but just a little too much tannin.

2010 Colomé Estate Malbec
14.5%, Calchaqui Valley, Drink: 2013-18 Remarkably consistent from vintage to vintage, the latest release of this high altitude Malbec is an impressive red, carrying its 14.5% alcohol like a schoolboy his packed lunch. The texture of the tannins is what delights here: suave and grainy, backed up by sweet, aromatic, violet and wild strawberry fruit flavours.

2009

Colomé Estate Malbec

14.5%, Calchaqui Valley, Drink: 2012-16 This isn’t far behind the more expensive Reserva Malbec in quality and it’s quite a bit cheaper. It’s also a blended wine, despite what it says on the label, with 15% made up of a combination of Tannat, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Syrah. The result is very classy indeed: brambly, refreshing, aromatic and stylishly oaked with less intensity than the Reserva, but arguably better balance.

2010

Colomé Tannat, Lote Especial

14.9%, Calchaqui Valley, Drink: 2013-16 The best of Colomé’s special release wines to my mind, this comes from what is a marginal climate for Tannat, according to winemaker, Thibaut Delmotte. But it shows a lot of potential: firmish tannins balanced by ripe, tarry fruit, smoky oak and warm spice. The variety clearly retains its acidity in warm climates.

2009

Cruz de Piedra Umbral Malbec

14%, Mendoza, Drink: 2012-15 An aromatic, modern style of Malbec, priced to appeal to the mid-market. Violetscented and sweet, with stylish oak integration, chalky minerality and sweet mulberry and blackberry fruit, this is a wine for people who don’t want to drink their Malbec with a knife and fork.

© 2012 Tim Atkin MW

Page 30

TIM ATKIN 2012 ARGENTINA Special Report

1

2011

Doña Paula Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

14% Mendoza, Drink: 2014-20 It says Cabernet on the label, but there 8% Malbec and Cabernet Franc in this wine for added complexity, blending fruit from Ugarteche and high altitude Gaultallary. The wine is leafy, elegant and very pure, with notes of sage, mint and cassis and a fresh, yet firm finish. Needs time in bottle.

2007 El Tránsito Pietro Marini Reserva Roble Cabernet/Syrah
14%, Cafayate, Drink: 2012-15 Like many of the best Cafayate reds, the tannins on this wine are silky and fine, with a texture that caresses the palate. There’s some grip from the 70% Cabernet, but the wine is very harmonious, with flavours of fresh tobacco, wood smoke, cassis, pepper spice and sweet plums.

2008

Eral Bravo Erales Malbec

14.5%, Mendoza, Drink: 2012-15 Medium-coloured and aromatic, this is a forward, supple, easy-drinking Malbec showing red fruits, gentle oak ageing and good length and freshness. It’s ripe, but not over-ripe, with flavours that are almost reminiscent of warm climate Pinot Noir. Less oaky than some past releases from this winery.

2009 Familia Schroeder Saurus Barrel Fermented Malbec
14.4%, Neuquén, Drink: 2012-16 The name gives it away here. If you don’t like oaky wines, this won’t float your boat. But oak isn’t the only flavour by any means, because this has fine tannins, Patagonian freshness, smoky liquorice and bramble fruit and some ageing potential. Schroeder is the name to watch in Neuquén.

2006

Fin del Mundo Special Blend

14%, Neuquén, Drink: 2012-14 This is the best wine from this large, Neuquén-based winery, a blend of Malbec, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s on the green and grassy side, with notes of mint and green pepper, but the oak is woven into the wine and the flavours are nicely developed, with a slightly feral note on the aftertaste.

2008

Gran Enemigo

14.5%, Mendoza, Drink: 2012-15 Gran Enimigo is a joint venture between Adrianna Catena and winemaker Alejandro Vigil, using three varieties (Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot) in an intriguing blend: richly oaked, super ripe and savoury/sweet, but with an underlying note of elegance and complexity and a long, tapering finish.

2010

Humberto Canale Old Vineyard Pinot Noir

14%, Río Negro, Drink: 2012-15 Argentina isn’t known for its Pinot Noir, but Río Negro is as promising a place as any to grown this most fickle of grapes. The oak is quite subtle here, allowing the supple succulent strawberry fruit to express itself in the glass. Forward and easy drinking but with nice texture and persistence.

© 2012 Tim Atkin MW

Page 31

TIM ATKIN 2012 ARGENTINA Special Report

1

2011

Laborum Tannat, El Porvenir de los Andes

14.3%, Cafayate, Drink: 2013-17 For my pesos, this is the best wine from El Porvenir de los Andes. Inky black and appropriately concentrated on the nose and palate, it has floral, orange peel aromas, sweet, yet structured tannins, a hint of reduction and good interaction between brambly fruit, oak and acidity.

2002

Lindaflor Malbec, Bodega Monteviejo

15%, Uco Valley, Drink: 2012-13 This is the first vintage from Catherine Péré-Vergé’s Uco Vally winery and the best of the older releases in my view. It’s figgy and mature, but the fruit seems more alive than in some Lindaflors. The alcohol is still on the high side – Michel Rolland is the consultant, after all – but there’s some underlying elegance here.

2007 Luca Nico Malbec
14%, Mendoza, Drink: 2012-16 Laura Catena’s wines are very much aimed at the American market: heavy bottles, deep colour, sweet vanilla oak and oodles of blackberry fruit. This is rich and heady with bright, aromatic fruit, soft tannins, well integrated oak and a long, sweet, stylish finish with hidden tannins and bright acidity.

2009

Luigi Bosca Gala I

14%, Mendoza, Drink: 2012-16 An unusual blend of 75% Malbec, 15% Petit Verdot and 10% Tannat made in a light, elegant, unforced style with appealing perfume from the Malbec and a bit of texture and stuffing from the other two grapes. The wine shows good oak integration, medium weight tannins and impressive palate length.

2008

Lurton Piedra Negra Malbec

14.5%, Uco Valley, Drink: 2013-19 As you’d expect from the scion of a famous Bordeaux family, François Lurton makes comparatively elegant, understated wines in Argentina. This one is made from two different clones – one French, one local – and it’s very appealing: savoury and refreshing with firm, leafy tannins and subtle oak.

2009 Masi Passo Doble
13.5%, Tupungato, Drink: 2012-14 Using a technique that is popular in its native Veneto region, Masi re-fermented this refreshing Malbec with some slightly dried (and therefore sweet) Corvina grapes. The result is like an Italian riff on Malbec: fresh, raspberry and cherrystone flavours with racy acidity and just a nibble of tannin on the finish.

2007 Mi Terruño Mayacaba Malbec
14.3%, Mendoza, Drink: 2012-17 Sourced from 100-year-old vines, this comes from a boutique winery that deserves a wider following. It’s still very floral for a 2007, showing fresh acidity and a herbal undertone. The wine is complex, savoury and understated, with a sweet core of red fruits and a slightly feral note.

© 2012 Tim Atkin MW

Page 32

TIM ATKIN 2012 ARGENTINA Special Report

1

2008 Norton Finca Perdriel Colección Merlot
14.5%, Mendoza, Drink: 2013-16 In a land where varietal Merlots are rarer than vegetarians, this is a wine that actually tastes of the grape. Yes, it’s ripe, but it’s also fleshy and textured with sweet fruitcake and mulberry fruit, fresh acidity and fine, filigree tannins. A wine that shows freshness and the hand of a very good winemaker.

2007 O Fournier A Crux Malbec
14.5%, Uco Valley, Drink: 2012-14 José Manuel Ortega’s policy of keeping his top reds back before release means that they often show secondary flavours in bottle of tobacco and earth. That’s the case here in a wine that has sacrificed immediate fruit for smoky complexity on the palate. The oak is a little firm, but the flavours are positively autumnal.

2008 O Fournier B Crux
14.5%, Uco Valley, Drink 2012-16 Like its brother A Crux, this is a Tempranillo-based blend from the southern end of the Uco Valley, topped up with 30% Malbec and 10% Merlot. It’s the fruitier and more aromatic of the two with sweet red cherry, plum and raspberry fruit, supple tannins and a stratum of vanilla oak. Finishes with a lift of acidity.

2006

Pascal Toso Finca Pedregal

14.5%, Mendoza, Drink: 2012-15 It’s not just the weight of the bottle that shows you that this is a serious wine, it’s the contents too. It’s a mature blend of mostly Malbec with 20% Cabernet that is very much a warm climate style: plum, chocolate, date and fig-like fruit, lots of oak, sweet tannins and palate-warming alcohol, but also decent acidity.

2011 Passionate Wines Inéditos Bonarda
11%, Uco Valley, Drink: 2012-15 This is a brave and, I believe, ground-breaking wine from Matías Michelini, one of the country’s best young winemakers. It’s unoaked, light in alcohol and very refreshing, with primary, almost carbonic maceration aromas and a sweet, juicy, spicy, plumy palate. Very fruity, but elegant and refreshing, too.

2008

Rutini Apartado Malbec

14.5%, Uco Valley, Drink: 2013-18 Part owned by Nicolás Catena since 1994, Rutini is one of Mendoza’s great historic names. This blend of mostly Malbec with 30% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Merlot has notes of coriander and fresh herbs on the nose and palate, backed up by flavours of plum skin, orange zest and a hint of raisin. Appropriately Italianate in style, with refreshing acidity on the finish.

2005

Salentein Numina

15%, Uco Valley, Drink: 2012-17 Deeply coloured, despite its bottle age. Rich, alluring, curranty and well balanced. It’s hard to see where the Malbec starts and the Merlot stops. Ripe, certainly, oaky, granted, but this has a winning combination of balance and structure.

© 2012 Tim Atkin MW

Page 33

TIM ATKIN 2012 ARGENTINA Special Report

1

2008

Trapezio BoBó Gran Corte

14%, Agrelo, Drink: 2012-18 BoBó stands for Bohemian and Bourgeois apparently, which may or may not be a reference to the two grapes in the blend: 70% Malbec and 30% Cabernet Franc. The result is classy and refreshing with a touch of reduction and notes of fresh herbs, mint and ripe plums. The American oak is very well integrated here.

2007

Trapiche Iscay

14.5%, Mendoza, Drink: 2013-18 A wine that seems considerably older than the 2008 release, showing incense and some sweet oak on the nose, svelte tannins, good barrel integration, fresh acidity and supple, raspberry and fruit cake flavours. The blend here is the more typical 50/50 Malbec and Merlot.

2005

Trapiche Malbec Franciso Olivé

14.5%, Luján de Cuyo, Drink: 2012-16 Like most of the top end Trapiche Malbecs, this is dense, aromatic and very serious. The fruit is on the ripe side here, with a touch of volatility, lashings of oak and a firm, chewy finish. Arguably something of a one glass wine, but there’s no denying the intensity of that glass.

2009

Trapiche Malbec Jorge Miralles

14.5%, La Consulta, Drink: 2013-17 The most forward of the three Trapiche grower Malbecs in 2009, this is spicy and very perfumed on the nose, with floral scents. On the palate, it’s stylish and well balanced with less oak than its two stable mates, plenty of texture and a concentrated, yet refreshing finish. Drink this and wait for the other two.

2004

Trapiche Malbec Victorio Coletto

15%, Tupungato, Drink: 2012-15 There’s an Italianate note to this wine – think Brunello or even, possibly, Aglianico – with spicy, bottle-aged complexity, fruitcake and wild strawberry notes, firmish tannins, a lift of acidity and a long, compelling finish. The wine may be coming to the end of its life, but it’s still kicking.

2005

Trapiche Malbec Viña Fausto Orellana

14.5%, San Carlos, Drink: 2012-13 It may be drink up time for this mature Uco Valley Malbec, but this still works with a slab of steak off the barbecue. It’s firm and quite extracted, but the tannins are surrounded by sweet oak and supple, cakey fruit flavours. A hint of volatility gives the wine an extra lift on the palate.

2007

Viña de Davalos, Finca Tacuil

17%, Salta, Drink: 2012-15 It goes without saying that this is an unusual wine, sourced from some of the highest (2,597 metres) and oldest (130 years) vineyards in Argentina. It’s also organic, made without sulphur dioxide and weighs in at 17% alcohol. In other words, if you like Zinfandel, this will appeal. It’s slightly sweet, with notes of plums, tobacco and raisins, has good acidity, fine tannins and a feral note. Worth trying for its curiosity value alone.

© 2012 Tim Atkin MW

Page 34

TIM ATKIN 2012 ARGENTINA Special Report

1

2009 Viñalba Gran Reserva Malbec, Domaine Vistalba
15%, Mendoza, Drink: 2013-17 Consistently on the money when it comes to producing commercial (in the best sense), well made reds, Domaine Vistalba’s Malbec is densely coloured, with dark, faintly pruney notes, lots of sweet, vanilla oak and ripe black fruits and a smooth powerful finish, like a V8 engine.

2004 Yacochuya
16.4%, Cafayate, Drink: 2012 Given the choice, I’d drink the 2003 in preference, but this is still quite a wine, showing rich, curranty, caked, almost baked fruit, notes of incense and wild herbs, powerful tannins (from shrivelled skins perhaps) and dense, palate-coating fruit flavours. A wine that you could cut with a steak knife.

2009 Zorzal Climax
14.3%, Gualtallary, Drink: 2014-20 Zorzal is a winery to watch, having made its first wines in 2008 and benefiting from the skills of winemaker Matías Michelini. This Cabernet/Malbec blend is appealingly green for Argentina, with flavours of mint, cassis and fresh herbs. The oak is quite prominent, but should integrate nicely in bottle.

0

2006 Achaval Ferrer Finca Altamira Malbec
14%, Mendoza, Drink: 2014-18 Thick, almost opaque in colour with intense purple hints. An oaky, almost woody, bark-like note on the nose, but backed up by rich fruit. The wine is a little angular and disjointed on the palate, with fruit on one side, acidity on the other and flavours of tar and wood smoke in the middle. Still interesting.

2006 Achaval Ferrer Finca Mirador
14%, Mendoza, Drink: 2012-14 I’m not sure I’d keep this in my cellar for much longer, but this mature Malbec from Medrano is very attractive now: savoury/sweet, with flavours of fig, tobacco and dried fruits and a firm, slightly drying finish. Another complex wine that really is one of a kind.

2010 Achaval Ferrer Malbec
14%, Mendoza, Drink: 2012-16 The “basic” wine from this top Mendoza operation is its most approachable and easy to understand in a way: classically perfumed, spicy Malbec with little oak influence, fresh acidity and sweet, well-upholstered fruit.

2009 Achaval Ferrer Quimera
14%, Mendoza, Drink: 2012-18 Unfined, unfiltered and something of a walk on the wild side, Roberto Cipresso’s regional blend of no fewer than five grapes (Malbec with lesser amounts of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot) is typically concentrated and aromatic, with good acidity and malty, savoury complexity. Some purists might object to the volatile acidity here.

© 2012 Tim Atkin MW

Page 35

TIM ATKIN 2012 ARGENTINA Special Report

0

2008

Achaval Ferrer Quimera

13.9%, Mendoza, Drink: 2012-16 It may be autosuggestion, but there is definitely an Italian note to this blend, despite the presence of only French grapes (Malbec and the Bordeaux quartet of Cabernets Sauvignon and Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot). Medium-bodied and refreshing with leafy tannins and marked minerality on the back palate.

2009 Bramare Malbec
15%, Uco Valley, Drink: 2012-16 A wine that handles its 15% alcohol less well than its brother from Luján de Cuyo, this Uco Valley “terroir concept” wine is strapping and intense, with a hint of baked fruit. There’s plenty of tannin and acidity for balance, but the flavours are just a little pruney and dry.

2005

Catena Alta Cabernet Sauvignon

14.1%, Mendoza, Drink: 2012-16 One of a range of very good Cabernets from Argentina’s best producer, although this one is showing more alcohol and oak than the younger 2008. There’s that same leafy, almost Margaux-like quality to the wine, but the wine finishes just a little hot and over-ripe.

2003

Catena Alta Cabernet Sauvignon

14.2%, Mendoza, Drink: 2012-15 The Brett on this Cabernet might bother some purists, but I think it works in the context of the wine, adding a feral note to a wine that is ripe, complex and mature with gamey sweetness and fine-grained tannins. Another wine that should be drunk sooner rather than later.

2009

Clos de los Siete

14.5%, Vista Flores, Drink: 2012-16 The seven original members of this French partnership may have dwindled to nearly half that number, but the wine continues to be one of the best value reds in the country, a sweet, curranty blend of mostly Malbec with Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah for support. Ripe, spicy and lavishly oaked.

2010

Colomé 180 Años Malbec

14.5%, Calchqui Valley, Drink: 2012-15 This is a special bottling, which may not make it on to all export markets. It’s varietal Malbec, sourced from old vines, and it’s like a quintessence of the grape: perfumed, very rich and soft and fleshy, with notes of blackberry and graphite. The oak is fine, but the alcohol is just a little too dominant here.

2008

Etchart Arnaldo B

14.5%, Cafayate, Drink: 2012-17 The top red wine from this large Cafayate operation is a well made blend of Malbec with 35% Cabernet, Tannat, Syrah and Bonarda. There’s lots of oak (almost de rigueur in Argentina), but the wine has fresh acidity, medium weight tannins and notes of fresh herbs and cassis. It ages well, too, as a rule.

© 2012 Tim Atkin MW

Page 36

TIM ATKIN 2012 ARGENTINA Special Report

0

2009 Familia Schroeder Saurus Barrel Fermented Pinot Noir
14.5%, Neuquén, Drink: 2013-16 Made by a winery that is improving with every vintage, this is a very creditable Pinot Noir, especially given the heat of the vintage. It’s pretty oaky, as its name suggests, with flavours that are quite structured for Pinot, but it’s got sweetness and texture too, with notes of black cherry, vanilla and plum.

2009

Familia Schroeder Saurus Select Pinot Noir

14%, Neuquén, Drink: 2012-15. This wine is cheaper than Schroeder’s Barrel Select Pinot Noir, but it’s just as good in its own way. In fact, it has a claim to be Argentina’s best value interpretation of the grape. Juicy and pleasant with sweet red fruits, deep colour and a touch of oak for added complexity. Very drinkable.

2010 Fincas de la Juanita Juana del Sol Malbec Reserva
13.5%, Mendoza, Drink: 2013-16 If you’re looking for bang for your buck, pound or euro, this family-owned winery delivers it. The wine is dark and inky, made in a rich style but with lovely freshness and balance beneath it. Smoky oak, bright acidity and plenty of sweet brambly fruit all combine nicely on the palate.

2010

Huarpe Taymente Malbec

14.4%, Luján de Cuyo, Drink: 2012-16 Made from Malbec grown in the grape’s traditional heartland of Luján de Cuyo, this is a value for money red whose focus is on fruit rather than oak. There’s a green, almost Cabernet-like note to this wine. The tannins are very polished and fine, the bramble and blueberry fruit is leafy, yet sweet. Very well balanced.

2009 Humberto Canale Cabernet Franc Gran Reserva
13.5%, Río Negro, Drink: 2013-17 More deeply coloured and backward than the same winery’s Merlot, this is less advanced too. It’s fresh, light and well balanced with fine, grainy tannins, refreshing tealeaf and blackcurrant fruit and enough concentration to develop gracefully in bottle. Another good value wine from Humberto Canale.

2010

Kaiken Corte

14.5%, Agrelo, Drink: 2014-20 This youthful and innovative blend of Malbec, Bonarda and Petit Verdot is the brainchild of Chilean winery, Montes. It’s unusual, but it’s also rather successful: subtly oaked, brambly and aromatic with the tannins from the 8% Petit Verdot adding some backbone and muscularity.

2008

La Chamiza Martín Alsina Malbec

14.9%, Mendoza, Drink: 2012-16 Super charged, inky Malbec aimed at the “ultra premium” market, this is thick, dense and concentrated with plenty of smoky oak, bags of violets and black fruits and a smooth, supple texture. Possibly a little bit of a me-too, but there’s no denying the seriousness of the wine.

© 2012 Tim Atkin MW

Page 37

TIM ATKIN 2012 ARGENTINA Special Report

0

2009

Marcelo Pelleriti Selection Malbec

14.5%, Mendoza, Drink: 20115 Better known as the winemaker at Monteviejo, Marcelo Pelleriti also makes small quantities of his own wine from bought-in grapes. This is mostly Malbec with a little Cabernet Franc and Syrah. It’s intense, super concentrated and very dense with sweet aromatic oak and notes of tar, blackberry and prune.

2009

Michel Torino Ciclos Malbec/Merlot

14%, Cafayate, Drink: 2014-18 An equal blend of Malbec and Merlot, aged in a combination of second use French and American oak, this is a stylish wine, with scents of vanilla, violets and spices, sweet black cherry and blackberry fruit, fresh acidity and the structure to age. A wine that shows good length and persistence.

2006 Monteviejo
15%, Uco Valley, Drink: 2012-14 If you like your Malbec big, plush and hedonistic, with lots of sweet oak and high alcohol, this will be your kind of thing. If you don’t, it will be too hot and pruney with dry tannins from over-ripe grapes. The wine has 20% Syrah and 80% Malbec, but the grape varieties are almost immaterial.

2009

Noemía

14.5%, Río Negro, Drink: 2012-17 By the high standards of this winery, this has to be considered a slight disappointment, although it’s still one of the best Río Negro reds. The problem here is that the oak and the alcohol are a little too prominent, swamping the spicy, raspberry and wild strawberry fruit. There’s also a little too much volatile acidity on the finish for my liking. Wait for the 2010 and 2011.

2007

Pascal Toso Alta Reserva Syrah

14%, Mendoza, Drink: 2012-14 It’s good to see a Syrah made in Mendoza (most of the wines we see here come from hotter San Juan). This is a little developed perhaps, but it’s true to the variety, with red fruits, some bacon fat, sweet oak and a balsamic lift. There’s backbone here, too, but I’d like to taste a younger vintage.

2010

Pascal Toso Malbec

14.5%, Mendoza, Drink: 2012-15 Pascal Toso isn’t afraid to make big, flavoursome wines, but that doesn’t mean they are clumsy and leaden-footed. This is certainly pretty ripe, but the oak is sensitively handled, with some raspberry fruit beneath the alcohol and enough acidity to keep it fresh on the palate.

2007 Tempus Alba Tempranillo
14%, Mendoza, Drink: 2012-14 One of a comparatively small number of pure Tempranillos from Argentina. The wine is appealingly mature on the nose and palate, showing notes of fresh tobacco, game and a hint of mushroom. There’s more than a touch of Pinot Noir about this wine: soft, supple and elegant with a core of sweet red fruits.

© 2012 Tim Atkin MW

Page 38

TIM ATKIN 2012 ARGENTINA Special Report

0

2004

Trapiche Malbec Viña Pedro Gonzalez

14.5%, San Carlos, Drink: 2012-15 For an old wine (at least by Argentinian standards), this is holding up pretty well, showing flavours of dark chocolate, currant and ginger spice. There’s a nip of volatility (almost de rigueur in these aged wines), sturdy, concentrated tannins and a lot of underlying power. The fruit is just beginning to fade on the finish.

2010

Viñalba Malbec Reserva, Domaine Vistalba

14.5%, Mendoza, Drink: 2012-15 Typically good value, with a light hand on the oak, lots of floral perfume, medium weight tannins, a touch of spice and a refreshing finish. Matías Riccitelli is making some excellent wines at the moment, following in the footsteps of his illustrious father, Jorge.

2010

Zuccardi Q Malbec

14%, Mendoza, Drink: 2013-17 This used to be the top of the range Malbec at Zuccardi until Aluvional came along. It’s still a little too oaky, but the latest vintage has a freshness and zip that is most welcome. Raspberry and redcurrant fruit, tangy acidity and a sweet/savoury finish make this a good value buy at around £15.

White Wines.
2009 Catena White Stones Chardonnay, Adrianna Vineyard
13.7%, Uco Valley, Drink: 2012-16 Sourced from high altitude vineyards in Gaulatallary, this incredible Chardonnay sets a new benchmark for Argentinian white wines. The “boneyness” of the vineyard where it’s grown shows through in the minerality of the wine and its chalky, almost Puligny-Montrachet-like tang. The wine is fresh and very pure, with 40% malolactic for texture and a long, elegant finish.

2009 Catena Ancient Bones Chardonnay, Adrianna Vineyard
13.5%, Uco Valley, Drink: 2012-16 The Adrianna Vineyard is one of the highest in the Uco Valley at 1,500 metres, a spot that works equally well for Chardonnay and Malbec. This sandy, chalky parcel has produced a wine with mealy, Meursault-like creaminess and vivid acidity. There’s even a touch of struck match on the nose for Burgundy lovers.

2011

Alta Vista Premium Torrontés

14%, Salta, Drink: 2012-14 Alta Vista is better known for its red wines, but it also makes one of the best white wines in Argentina. This is intense, very pure and refined, with lime zest and lemon notes, a touch of honey and a zesty, almost Riesling–like finish. Torrontés doesn’t get much better than this.

© 2012 Tim Atkin MW

Page 39

TIM ATKIN 2012 ARGENTINA Special Report

2009

Catena Alta Chardonnay

13%, Mendoza, Drink 2012-15 Catena’s Chardonnays are way ahead of the pack in Argentina and continuing to gain in complexity and finesse. This is like a cross between a Puligny-Montrachet and a top California Chardonnay, with flavours of toast and cashew, fresh acidity and a supple, lees-derived texture.

2

2009

Bressia Lágrima Canela

13.5%, Mendoza, Drink 2012-15 Walter Bressia is celebrated for the quality of his red wines (by me at least), but this is a very smart white wine made from 70% Chardonnay with 30% Semillon. Chalky, creamy and toasty oaky, this is like a cross between a white Burgundy and a white Graves with some spice on the finish and a complex, fresh finish.

2011

El Tránsito Pietro Marini Torrontés

13%, Cafayate, Drink: 2012-13 This boutique winery may be a new operation (it started in 2007) but the quality of its wines is consistently good. A very pure style of Torrontés that’s lively and refreshing with notes of citrus fruit and sherbet and a fine finish. A name to watch out for in the north.

2011

Mendel Semillon

13.6%, Perdriel, Drink: 2012-14 Semillon used to be much more widely planted in Argentina than it is today, but tasting this you wonder if it shouldn’t be resurrected. No malolactic, 15% barrelfermented and very Bordeaux-like, it’s a herbal, vanilla and lemon butter style Semillon with a long, smoky finish. More, please!

1

2012

Doña Paula Sauvignon Blanc

12.5%, Tupungato, Drink: 2012-14 Consistently the best Sauvignon Blanc in Argentina – not the backhanded compliment you might imagine - this comes from Finca Los Ceresos in Tupungato. It’s crunchy and vibrant, with boiled sweets and grapefruit flavours and a zesty, lemongrass finish.

2010

Etchart Gran Linaje Torrontés

14%, Salta, Drink: 2012-13 First released in 2008, Gran Linaje is Etchart’s top Torrontés, made without oak but certainly not lacking in flavour or complexity. Perfumed, lime-scented stuff with no grape skin bitterness and flavours of honey and dried herbs.

2012

Susana Balbo Crios Torrontés

13.8%, Mendoza, Drink: 2012-13 Susana Balbo’s value for money Torrontés has done an enormous amount to promote the grape on export markets. This is very modern in style: aromatic, crunchy and fresh with some grapefruit and orange zest. The wine is made from two sources: Cafayate in Salta and El Cepillo in the Uco Valley.

0

2011 Amalaya Gran Corte
13.5%, Calchaquí Valley, Drink: 2012-14 Made by the same team that produces Colomé, this blend of mostly Torrontés with 15% Riesling sourced from a local grower is fine and perfumed, with the nobility of the latter adding to the simpler fruit flavours of the former. Talcum powder and lime aromatics, with a grapey, lemon sherbet finish.
Page 40

© 2012 Tim Atkin MW

TIM ATKIN 2012 ARGENTINA Special Report

0

2009 Luigi Bosca Gala 3
14%, Mendoza, Drink: 2012-13 This highly unusual (for Argentina) blend of Viognier, Chardonnay and Riesling is deceptively golden in colour, suggesting that it is more evolved than it actually is. The result shows attractive citrus and stone fruit flavours with some sweet vanilla oak and a bright, refreshing finish.

Sweet Wines.
2006 Terrazas de los Andes Afincado Tardio
12.9%, Mendoza, Drink: 2012-15 This must be Argentina’s most complex sweet wine, made from Petit Manseng and reminiscent of a Jurançon. Light and elegant with notes of vanilla, pineapple and quince jelly, it has a piercingly refreshing finish and delightful balance.

© 2012 Tim Atkin MW

Page 41

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful