Wine Spectator Presents: Top Wines of Argentina at the Boston Wine Expo 2010

Part of the Beyond Malbec series.

Yes, you read that correctly! A review of a seminar held about year ago. As I count down the days to the 20th Annual Boston Wine Expo, I recently went back to my notes from last year to remind myself of some of the highlights. To my surprise, I found something that I thought I had lost long ago: my tasting notes from the seminar on Argentine wines. It is a bit embarrassing to be writing this up a year later, but for me this seminar was my favorite part of the Expo. In a way, it also was the inspiration for my Beyond Malbec series, so I hope you will forgive my lateness!

The seminar was presented by Argentine Nora Favelukes, whose company QW Wine Experts handles public relations for the Wines of Argentina trade group, and Gloria Maroti Frazee, Director of Wine Spectator School and Video. It was immediately clear that both presenters had a deep knowledge of Argentine wines and that they enjoy sharing their enthusiasm and understanding with others. In other words, they were excellent presenters.

Nora and Gloria started their presentation by talking about the history of wine and food in Argentina. Argentina’s culture, food, and wine are heavily influenced by Italians who migrated to Argentina. In their words, Argentina was “conquered by Italy” in the 1850s. These immigrants brought with them their grapes, winemaking knowledge, and passion for food. Still today, more Argentines can trace their roots back to Italy than to Spain.

Fast forward to the 1990s and new influence had arrived in Argentina, known as the flying winemakers and wine consultants. Well-known winemakers such as Michel Rolland, Paul Hobbes, and Alberto Antonini were helping to revolutionize Argentine winemaking, changing the focus from quantity to quality, a shift that had already been instigated by Nicolas Catena.

While 75% of Argentina’s wines come from Mendoza, quality wine can be found in several other provinces, from Salta to in the far North to Neuquén and Rio Negro in Patagonia. Each region produces wines of a distinct character, which is strongly influenced by individual terroirs.

Malbec, of course, is Argentina’s signature grape, which originated in the Cahors region of Bordeaux.  Argentina’s Malbec is quite different from the one found in its homeland. In Cahors, the vines give big clusters and big grapes. The skin is often tough and the tannins harsh. By contrast, Argentina’s dry, continental climate produces grapes that are smaller, with softer skins and sweeter tannins, resulting in a wine that is easy to drink and enjoyed by many wine drinkers.

The tasting started with two white wines.

2008 Bodega Monteviejo Chardonnay (Mendoza) is made in a full-bodied, oaky style by Michel Rolland. Good acidity balanced out the high alcohol (14.6%). Lots of vanilla and butterscotch.

2008 Bodega Colomé Torrontés (Salta) was floral, pretty, and fresh. An excellent example of Torrontés, it had a long finish with a touch of bitterness at the end.

We then moved on to four Malbecs.

2008 Bodega Noemia A Lisa (Rio Negro), according to my notes, did not impress me. This is surprising to me now, since I recently reviewed the 2009 and thought it was outstanding.

2007 Urban (Mendoza) had a concentrated nose that was prune-like and chocolaty. The palate was spicy and more tannic than the Noemia.

2007 Valentin Bianchi Particular (Mendoza) had a plum and raspberry nose.  I found the palate to be on the tart side, reminding me of sour cherry juice.

2007 Catena Zapata (Mendoza) was relatively restrained, but had smooth tannins.

Then two big Malbec-dominated blends.

2007 Alta Vista Atemporal (Mendoza) is a blend of 43% Malbec, 36% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 11% Syrah. Dark and saturated, the nose had lots of fruit – boysenberry and raspberry – balanced by a judicious use of oak. The palate had a nice spiciness.

2007 ReNacer Enamore (Mendoza) is 60% Malbec, 23% Cabernet Franc, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Syrah, and 3% Bonarda. I was quite excited to see this on the tasting list since it is one of my favorite wines. The Italian influence can be seen here, as the grapes are dried to concentrate their flavors before fermentation. This is a beautiful wine and I’ll save my tasting notes for a future blog.

This seminar was just one of the many reasons I enjoy going to the Boston Wine Expo. With thousands of wines and foods to taste and excellent seminars to take part in, be sure to buy your tickets to the 20th Annual Boston Wine Expo today!

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Katrin is one of the co-founders of Wine Dine With Us. She enjoys sharing her love of wine on the blog, and is particularly fond of wines from Argentine, Alto Adige, and Germany. A lifelong environmentalist, Katrin has become increasingly interested in issues of sustainability in wine and food, local food production, biodynamics, and organic agriculture. When not drinking wine and writing about it, she is a nonprofit professional, specializing in fundraising and special events.


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