By Barbara D. Ritchie

Winemaker German di Cesare, a celebrated classical guitarist, and Barbara Ritchie

German di Cesare, winemaker for Argentina’s Trivento Bodegas Y Vinedos winery, was in Toronto last November to conduct a tasting along with their agent Select Wines. Part of the winemaking team since 2002 and now in charge of their premium wines, Cesare is a leading expert on Argentinean culture. As impressive as his winemaking is his talent as a classical guitarist, which we had the pleasure of enjoying at the end of the tasting.

Trivento was started in the mid-1990s by Concha Y Toro, Chile’s largest wine producer and exporter, who spotted the winemaking potential of Argentina’s Mendoza Valley. This led to their 1996 acquisition of the Los Vientos winery and 154 hectares of vineyards in Mendoza’s Maipu area. Their next step was to build a state-of-the-art winery and they have expanded to 1,300 hectares over eight Mendoza vineyards — most at high altitudes, where some of Mendoza’s best wines are produced. In 2005 Trivento moved upscale by focusing on terroir-oriented wines and in 2008 launched the first vintage of its icon wine – Trivento Eolo Malbec 2005. Today, they produce 31 million litres of wine, supplementing roughly half their fruit from growers. Trivento and Familia Zuccardi vie for position as Argentina’s third largest wine producer after Trapiche and Catena.

Over 70% of Argentina’s wine comes from the Mendoza region because of its ideal winemaking conditions. Protected from the Pacific Ocean breezes by the Andes Mountains to the west, it is actually closer to Chile’s capital (Santiago) than to Argentina’s (Buenos Aires). Mendoza enjoys warm, dry growing seasons, promoting consistent ripening for optimal harvesting conditions.

‘Trivento’ means the ‘three winds’ that sweep the Mendoza wine region. The Polar brings cold air from the south at the onset of winter, when they cut the grass short so the cold air sinks to the ground away from the vines. The Zonda is a hot, dry and dusty wind that descends from the Andes year round, which helps create the snow precipitation at higher altitudes so vital to this arid region. The Sudestada brings fresh summer breezes and a cloud cover during storms that protect the grapes from the sun’s intensity.

Trivento Golden Reserve Chardonnay 2009 is a top end 100% varietal wine sourced from their Los Ponchos vineyard. They go the extra mile by picking in mid-February for fresh acidity, in March for more alcohol and in April for the ripest fruit. Bright with good acidity, this elegant wine has a full palate of lemon, banana and tropical fruits, with spice and ginger notes. Trivento Coleccion Fincas No. 2 Series Syrah 2007 is a 100% varietal sourced from the same Los Ponchos vineyard. Inky coloured, it has black fruit flavours and spice notes with sweet tannins that linger in the finish.

Trivento Tribu Malbec 2011 is a food friendly 100% Malbec with soft tannins and no oak influence. Purple hued, it has red fruit and blueberry flavours, with fresh herb undertones. Trivento Malbec Fairtrade 2011 is a dense Malbec, showing rich dark fruit flavours framed with pepper and floral aromas and spice undertones. Trivento Golden Reserve Malbec 2008 is another 100% varietal with grapes from the best parts of the Lujan de Cuyo area of Mendoza, known for quality Malbecs. Aged in French oak (40% new), this deeply coloured wine shows a great balance of fruit and tannins. Ripe dark berry fruit, with spice and smoke influences show on the palate.

Trivento Amado Sur 2009 is a blend of 73% Malbec, 15% Bonarda and 12% Syrah grown in the southern foothills of the Andes (‘Amado Sur’ – love of the south). The wines were made separately before blending, with the Malbec aged in French and the Syrah in American oak. Inky, this wine shows good acidity and soft tannins, with sweet plums and vanilla, cedar and licorice aspects.