This summer’s Argentinian offerings at the LCBO contained a seriously impressive array of four-apples-or-more wines.
Below are some of my favourites…
2019 Catena “White Clay” (Semillon/Chenin Blanc) Luján de Cuyo, Mendoza, Argentina
(Alcohol 13.5%, Residual Sugar 2 g/l) LCBO Vintages $19.95 (750ml bottle)
Catena make some damn good wine, all the way from their more entry level offerings up to their exquisite single vineyard wines. This Semillon/Chenin blend hails from alluvial/clay soil vineyards at 950m above sea level. The vines are 70 – 80 years old and harvested with low yields of around 7 tonnes per hectare. It presents a formidable aromatic profile of beeswax, lemon, and ripe nectarine. The bone dry palate is an exercise in freshness, balance, and structure, with six months lees contact giving the wine additional weight and texture on the palate. This is a very precise and contemporary wine that just begs to be served with oysters on the half shell.
2019 Altosur Sauvignon Blanc, Mendoza, Argentina
(Alcohol 13.5%, Residual Sugar 2 g/l) LCBO Vintages $16.95 (750ml bottle)
While I found the gorgeous nose to be generous, it still showed a certain amount of reserve with lime, greengage, and for me that telltale sign of high-altitude whites, fines herbes and minerals. That slow-ripening certainly showed up in the palate, which was crisp and floral with a core of rich, ripe green plum and guava, and perhaps just a hint of gooseberry. The finish was perfection, with extended flavour memories of floral, mineral, and those aforementioned fines herbes. Wonderful. (Reviewed on GFR a couple of weeks ago)
2020 Salentein “Reserve” Rosé, Los Arboles, Uco Valley, Argentina
(Alcohol 13.5%, Residual Sugar 2 g/l) LCBO Vintages $17.95 (750ml bottle)
Having not found much pleasure in Argentinian rosés previously, this was an absolute delight. I enjoyed it so much that I abandoned my afternoon of work a little earlier than usual and sat out on the deck, finishing off the entire bottle much more quickly than I had anticipated. 100% clone 99 Syrah, it pours an attractive pale pink in the glass, with just a touch of that elusive Provençal onion skin. The nose is all about just-underripe wild strawberries, and while not particularly complex gives one an indiction of the strawberry fruit to be found on the palate. Dry and fresh, with just a touch of spice, this wines punches all the right buttons that a rosé at this price point should. Most enjoyable.
2019 Matias Riccitelli “Tinto de Casa” Las Compuertas-Luján de Cuyo/Gualtallary-Tupungato, Argentina
(Alcohol 14%, Residual Sugar 2 g/l) LCBO Vintages $29.95 (750ml bottle)
Sourced from a clay loam vineyard at 1,100m and a calcareous vineyard at 1,400m, this 100% Malbec wine is fermented with indigenous yeasts in small French oak barrels, and then aged for a year in old French vats. With a glorious abundance of black raspberry/bramble, black cherry, and toasted almond, the bouquet of this bottling was a real favourite of mine out of this summer’s selection. Perhaps it’s the native ferment, but there’s a certain “wildness” to this wine that I found most alluring. The nose gives an indication of the succulence to be found on the generous and decidedly juicy mouth-filling palate. The dark fruit core extends out into a satisfyingly lingering finish. More please.
2018 Luigi Bosca D.O.C. Malbec, Luján de Cuyo, Mendoza, Argentina
(Alcohol 14%, Residual Sugar 3 g/l) LCBO Vintages $29.95 (750ml bottle)
One can always count on Luigi Bosca for solid, well-crafted, traditional Malbec, and this is no exception. Although I found this a little closed, the potential from greatness after some time in bottle is undoubtedly there. Dark, ripe fruit dominates the nose with a fair bit of warm wood spice that requires some time to integrate. Structurally this is a beast (in a good way), but I’d like to revisit this a few years down the line. This one is most certainly a cellar dweller, but it’s going to be a real beauty when she wakes from her slumber.
Trapiche Terroir Series “Finca Coletto” El Peral, Tupungato, Argentina
(Alcohol 14.5%, Residual Sugar 2 g/l) LCBO Classics $44.95 (750ml bottle)
Although I’ve never been overly fond of their more accessible sub-$15 Malbecs, Trapiche have a record of knocking it out of the park with their more-focused single vineyard “Terroir” series of wines. This one is terrific, but will only improve with time. Despite some admirable tannin management that allows the wine to be enjoyed with a quick decant, this one is a sleeper that really does need time to evolve in bottle. The heart-of-darkness berry/cherry fruit on the bouquet is to die for, with warm woody notes framing it all perfectly. An extremely polished and beautifully structured wine that needs quite a bit of patience (10 – 15 years, perhaps) before it’s quite ready to be enjoyed at its full potential.
2018 DV Catena “Tinto Historico” Mendoza, Argentina
(Alcohol 12.7%, Residual Sugar 4 g/l) LCBO Vintages $29.95 (750ml bottle)
In a nod to their historical blends of years gone by, this wine is composed of 75% Malbec, 19% Bonarda, and 6% Petit Verdot sourced from four of their older estate vineyards ranging from 750m to 1,45m above sea level. Wild yeast ferments add a certain dusty funkiness and lift to this intriguingly vibrant wine, that really stood out in this lineup for its vinous esprit. The nose and palate both run the fruit spectrum from red sour cherry through to the darkest of berry/plum fruit, making for an incredibly complex glass of wine. The finish is mineral, touching on saline, and is terrific finale to this almost savoury experience.
2017 El Enemigo Syrah/Viognier, Gualtallary, Tupungato, Uco Valley, Argentina
(Alcohol 13.5%, Residual Sugar 4 g/l) LCBO Vintages September 4th $24.95 (750ml bottle)
I always get excited when I see anything from El Enemigo as I have felt for years that they are, by a long shot, the most dynamic and exciting winery in Argentina. This excellent Syrah/Viognier (12%) homage to the wines of the Northern Rhône certainly does not disappoint, delivering a fantastically complex bouquet for a wine at this price point: dark berries, moist tobacco leaf, wood spices, cracked pepper, stewed blackberries, cassis, and some gloriously wistful floral notes. The palate is generous and really fills the mouth with dark berry fruit and soft, supple tannins and a juicy berry acidity that keeps you coming back for more. Terrific stuff. Seriously.
2019 Viña Cobos “Felino” Cabernet Sauvignon, Luján de Coyo/Uco Valley, Argentina
(Alcohol 14.5%, Residual Sugar 2 g/l) LCBO Vintages $19.95 (750ml bottle)
Über (Flying) Winemaker Paul Hobbs does what he does best here, but at such an amazingly accessible price. There’s some astonishing winecraft going on here, as the polish on this wine is truly remarkable for the dollars. Pristine Cabernet fruit gets centre stage, with juicy ripe blackcurrants by the bucketful. While it’s not a complex wine, 8 months in 10% new American oak give this wine a premium finish that frames the Cab fruit perfectly. The firm but managed tannins give considerable grip, but this is an accessible wine, even given its relative youth. Yes, this is ready to drink now.
(All scored out of a possible five apples)