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Jul 1, 2007 03:20 PM


YH is excited to be taking a 10-day trip to Buenos Aires this month.

Someday, I hope to tour Menoza wine country extensively, but this time (especially since it's the dead of winter), my oenephilic exploration will be limited to the confines of the wine shops and restaurants in the city, which is fine by me.

Here is the sum of my knowledge regarding the wines of Argentina:
* Malbec is the national grape and is the basis for many revered wines
* South American wines are an excellent value (even in the states), but this may apply more to Chilean wines then Argentine wines.

Clearly, I need to get myself edumacated before I go!!

First, I want the names of the best wines: some blockbusters or classics I can sample while I'm at steakhouse or cooking in my brother's house. So far my "to drink" list includes Cavas de Weinert and Trapiche "Iscay." These are supposed to be two prestigious Malbec blends; I'd like to expand that list.

Secondly, I'd like some descriptions of the best Malbec from some of the wine-os on this board. What does a great Malbec taste like? I imagine it's a unique grape, but does it have any resemblances to, say, the wines of Rioja or of Burgundy? Are they at all like Australian shiraz or Californian pinor noir? Do Malbecs have a lot of tannin? Alcohol? Acidity? Color? Can they be Parkerized fruit bombs, or are they more elegant and lean?

Thirdly, I'd like to know if there's any decent white wine made in Argentina.

Lastly, a list of the best inexpensive, widely availalbe wines for everyday drinking would be lovely.


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  1. Malbec is a full-bodied red wine much closer to cabernet on the "rich" end of the spectrum, than, say, beaujolais on the lighter end of the spectrum. It's not overly spicy and probably reminds me most of cabernet and/or merlot in overall flavor and texture, and may be blended with same.

    It's quite food-friendl and not overly tannic. Ages reasonably well but can be drank within a few years of release... I once took a single bottle of Catena Malbec to Hubert Keller's place in San Francisco (Fleur de Lys) and drank it with the entire meal... A great under-appreciated wine and good value that has really found tremendous matching terroir in Argentina. IMO, much as zinfandel reaches tremendous heights in California, Malbec does in Argentina.

    1. Argentine Malbec is known for spicy white pepper, violets, and jammy fruit. It's fresh, food-friendly and doesn't require aging. Very different from Bordeaux- or US-grown Malbec.

      Here are some Argentine Malbecs to try:
      ***Cobus, made by Paul Hobbs, the California winemaker -- classic, balanced
      ***Achaval Ferrer from Finca Altamira -- lush
      Terrazas Gran Riserva
      Marcus Gran Reserva
      Angelica Zapata
      Bodegas Salentein and Bodega El Portillo, both in Mendoza

      Visit the wine shop, Terroir, in Buenos Aires, and do a tasting.

      Weinert has received some good reviews; Trapiche Iscay is quite expensive.
      You might also try Terre Rosa, a vineyard in Mendoza owned by Patrick Campbell of Laurel Glen Vineyards in Sonoma. Cab-Malbec and Malbec.
      Sorry, haven't tried any of these three recs.

      Another tip: Check out Susana Balbo. Good winemaker, excellent Malbec and her Torrontes, white wine, is quite good and a good buy.

      Have fun, Yago Homo! Report back. Envy you your trip.

      1 Reply
      1. re: maria lorraine

        Terra Rosa does an exceptional 'Old Vines' malbec that is stellar.

      2. I find Argentine Malbec a medium bodied wine that has soft berry fruit with a slight peppery edge and a chocolaty richness.

        I highly recommend the wines of Tikal which is owned by Ernesto Catena.
        Amorio, Malbec, Patriota, Bonarda/Malbec and Julio, Cabrenet/Malbec

        I enjoy the wines of Antonio Nerviani, he started out as a barrel maker from Italy in the 1890s. His family still runs the winery the Meritage Cabernet/Malbec is luscious. All the varietals that they produce deliver a magical toasted caramel on the tongue.

        I found good examples of what I believe is an old Italian grape Bonarda, from Lurton and Chakana.

        Other reds:
        Trumpeter, Malbec/Syrah, Bodega La Rural,
        Don Nicanor, Cab/Malbec/Merlot, Niento Senetiner,
        Crios, Syrah/Bonarda, Dominio del Plata,
        Cabernet Sauvignon, Cocodrilo by Paul Hobbs,
        Cabernet Sauvignon, Finca Sophenia,
        Merlot, Finca Sophenia Altosur,
        Merlot, Niente Senetiner Reserva,

        Johannisberg Riesling, Luigi Bosca,
        Pino Gris, Lurton
        Montchenot, Bodegas López

        1. Someone above mentioned Terrazas. Try to find a bottle of Cheval des Andes - it's a joint venture between Terrazas in Argentina and the very famous Cheval Blanc in Bordeaux. Malbec - Cab blend and very delicious.

          Torrontes is the main white grape, or at least the one most unique to Argentina. The best I've had have a lovely spice to them, yet are still fairly crisp and refreshing.

          3 Replies
          1. re: frankiec

            Torrontes is rapidly becoming my second favorite inexpensive white wine. You should be able to find lots of small local offerings of Torrontes. We went to New Zealand in 2003 and every little bar had a list of local wines by the glass or bottle. It was incredible. I would expect the same kind of wine community exists in the areas you'll be visiting.

            1. re: ginnyhw

              I just had some Torrontes for the first time at a wine tasting dinner. I was very impressed. Now if I could only find some . . .

            2. re: frankiec

              I am a huge fan of Torrontes, it was tops on my drinking list this summer. A wonderful white and a good price tag.

            3. I'm a very enthusiastic fan of malbec. The one thing that I'd add, is that in recent years the general style is more fruit-driven than it was traditionally. The old style emphasised the 'darker' flavours: chocolate, tobacco, cedar, leather, sometimes at the expensive of the fruitier flavours. Frankly, the change saddens me a little as yet another example of the homogenisation of wine globally. If you can find a tradionally styled malbec, taste it against a modern-styled one, and you'll get an idea of how versatile the malbec grape is. Please, report back after your vacation. We'd love to hear what you found. Cheers!