Saturday, April 10, 2010

More Mendoza

Continuing my visits to Uco Valley vineyards brings me to Altus, just outside the town of Tupungato (which itself is shadowed by the 22,000 foot Tupungato volcano). Tempranillo? the Argentines do well with French malbec and cabernet, Italian bonarda, so I thought why not Spanish tempranillo?. The Altus, Tempranillo, 2006 comes from a 1200 meter vineyard of 25 year old plants. Unfortunately the bottle I got had a strong sulfur nose (more fart than match-strike). Thankfully it tastes better, but I still left it for the next day as that nose was really off-putting. The next day the sulfur had largely blown off, leaving a meaty, plummy dark full bodied wine that still had a little funkiness going on. It scores as an "OK" wine, but maybe I got a bad bottle. 38 pesos.
Closer to the Uco town of Tunuyan is a beautiful little lodge called Postales del Plata. They even have a little 6 year old 5 acre malbec vineyard on the property, so when you have dinner there, it seems only right to drink their wine. You probably won't see it anywhere else anyway! Their 2007 Malbec has a spiced, floral, blueberry nose. Medium bodied, bright boysenberry and pomegranate, good bite and a fair finish - this is a good boutique wine (5,000 bottles/year) and you can see how a small, well run property can pump out good wine at a fair price in this region. 40 pesos.

Further up north in the Province of Mendoza comes the Altavista, Premium Malbec, 2007. A dark wine with blackberries and blueberries on the nose. Full bodied yet very approachable - slick, smooth, red and blue fruits, no hard edges, well made. Excellent with Bife Chorizo (a monster 3 inch thick grass fed beef steak from the pampas). 44 pesos/half bottle.
I finished this little trip sitting on the sidewalk terrasse in the downtown Mendoza restaurant La Florencia eating the best ribs I have ever had - charcoal grilled, meaty and tasty, and the Argentines put no gloopy syrupy sauce on these babies - they don't need anything else! The wine I was matched with was the Finca La Linda, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2008. Only 6/10 for colour (this was the lightest wine of the week) it was a more elegant style of new world wine. Raw beef and crushed blueberry nose, it was medium bodied, spice driven with subtle blackberries. Very smooth and polished, but lacked tannic strength and that robustness I was looking for to chew through the pork ribs. A good lunch wine, though. 38 pesos/half bottle.

Thursday, April 01, 2010


Ahhh, harvest time. Ripe, sweet, fat malbec grapes. Nothing is better than tasting the grapes in the hot sun gazing at the Andes, and then eating a succulent bife chorizo at an outdoor table either at the winery or at a local restaurant.
Trapiche, seleccion roble, Syrah, 2007 has a warm, slightly oaky nose with some caramel. Medium-full bodied, very accessible, definitely oaked, the fruit is hiding but it sings paired with a juicy steak. Good wine, but not for the "oak monster" haters. 41 pesos/500ml (that's about $12) in the restaurant Winery. Total cost for a great meal, a glass of white Torrontes and the bottle of red wine was $30. That's a wow.
Bodega Giaquinta is just outside Tupungato in the Uco Valley. In local restaurants a few kilometers from the winery I tried their higher end and lower end malbecs. The lower end generic Malbec, 2007 costs 28 pesos, clocks in at 14% alcohol and is dark, opaque purple. Very ripe, almost sweet plums, very fruity, so dense it was close to being a dessert wine. Not the best dinner wine, more of a sipper, but would make a killer house wine for the price. This is way better than most cheap wines available up in Canada. No fakeness here, just an authentic, honest wine.
The most expensive wine in the restaurant was the Giaquinta, FG Malbec Roble 2004 at 58 pesos. Only 3000 bottles of this wine were made, so I don't expect to see this outside Mendoza. Vanilla and cedar nose. Medium bodied, gorgeous wine, smooth and very slick, fantastic blend of oak and blackberry fruit. This could be from Bordeaux (except for the price!). Wow.
Below is the view when you're stuck behind a truck full of grapes heading for the bodega in Lujan....Cheers!!