I’ve spent the past couple of weeks tasting through all of the Argentine reds that were released earlier this month, and I’ll admit that it’s been quite a wild and educational ride through the subregions of Argentina.
Tasting by myself out here in the country means that I’ve had a bit of a backlog when it comes to working my way through samples, but I have finally finished my epic Argentinian journey.
Below are some of my favourites from this sizable Vintages release, and there were some truly great wines in there, although I notice that some of my very favourite wines have now sold through; my apologies for that. I think I need to step up my speed-tasting skills again.
2017 El Esteco “Old Vines” Cabernet Sauvignon, Calchaqui Valley, Salta (Alcohol 15%, Residual Sugar 5 g/L) LCBO Vintages $24.95 (750ml bottle)
Simply amazing value for under $25, this is top quality Cabernet that puts most others at this price point to shame. From 71 year old vines at high altitude comes a wine with a stunning dark fruit core (blackcurrant/damascene) replete with complexities of warm spice and woodsmoke. The palate has supple but present tannins and an abundance of fruits. There’s a very attractive graphite mineral edge that really shows in the extended finish.
2017 Luigi Bosca “Terroir Los Miradores” Malbec, Villa Seca, Tunuyán, Valle de Uco, Argentina (Alcohol 14.5%, Residual Sugar 4 g/L) LCBO Vintages $34.95 (750ml bottle)
Again from older vines, but this time around from the Malbec varietal, this bottling shows an elegance not often seen with this varietal. While the rich nose is certainly enticing with its black berries and cherries, it’s the silky smooth and structured palate that got my attention. The fruit, acidity, and tannins are just so well aligned and in perfect equilibrium. Great stuff, although I’d keep this for a good few years for it to show at its best.
2016 Trapiche “Gran Medalla” Cabernet Sauvignon, La Consulta, Valle de Uco, Argentina (Alcohol 15%, Residual Sugar 4 g/L) LCBO Vintages $26.95 (750ml bottle)
This Cabernet is certainly made in a bigger style, but it balances out that mouth-filling style acidically with considerable aplomb. It’s an undeniably complex wine, that probably needs a few years in bottle, but opening it last week I found a cornucopia of dark berry fruit with nuances of violets, bonfire, dried herbs, cedar, and sweet woodspice. The palate is almost overwhelmingly generous, and rich, but is tempered by some pretty damn decent structure courtesy of some pronounced acidity and particularly firm Cabernet tannins.
2016 El Enemigo Bonarda, El Mirador, Rivadiva & Gualtallary, Valle de Uco, Argentina (Alcohol 13.5%, Residual Sugar 4 g/L) LCBO Vintages $24.95 (750ml bottle)
Bonarda is the Italian varietal that comes second only to malbec in terms of Argentine plantings. More often than not used for cheap and cheerful everyday wines, El Enemigo once again go against the grain and produce something quite singular in this Bonarda of considerable depth and character. Confusingly this wine is perhaps both the most full-bodied and elegantly finessed example I have ever tasted. The nose is all about blackberries and pronounced floral notes. A deeply satisfying glass of wine in every which way.
2017 El Esteco Malbec, Calchaqui Valley, Salta (Alcohol 14.4%, Residual Sugar 5 g/L) LCBO Vintages $21.95 (750ml bottle)
Again from Argentina’s northern desert region of the Calchaqui Valley, there is something decidedly savoury/saline about this bottling that I found most intriguing. The bouquet was an extremely vibrant one with loads of blackberries and blueberries as well as hints of mocha, boxwood, and woodsmoke. The palate is attractively juicy, with supple tannins, and a really lovely pepperiness. The finish is medium, but there’s a saline tail to the savoury palate that is really quite lovely.
Edinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge, and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution… And that was a rather fantastic journey.