Saving the best for last, the final seminar of Saturday’s Boston Wine Expo featured Nora Favelukes of Wines of Argentina presenting on “Argentina: Celebrating Diversity.” The full house was entertained, while also being educated on Argentina’s wine, food, culture, and geography.
A lot has changed in the Argentina wine industry in the past 20 to 30 years. In the 1980s and early 1990s, Nora said that she knew exactly where to look for the Argentine wines: way in the back of the store, on the bottom shelf, covered in dust. Nicolas Catena and the arrival of two international wine consultants, Paul Hobbs and Michel Rolland, changed all that. Their work in modernizing grape growing and winemaking set the groundwork for making wines from Argentina an international sensation.
One of Argentina’s great strengths, which wine enthusiasts around the world are starting to recognize, is diversity; from Salta in the north to Patagonia in the south; altitudes ranging from 1,000 feet to 10,000 feet; incredible microclimates; and a wide range of varietals. Clearly Argentines enjoy their wine; with one of the highest per capita wine consumption rates in the world, Argentina only exports 10-12% of its total production. The rest is enjoyed at home!
We tasted five wines that gave a flavor of the geographic and varietal diversity of Argentina. Nora had selected them based on their availability in the local market and their price to quality ratio.
2011 Michel Torino Estate – Don David Torrontés (Cafayate Valley, Salta)
Beautiful nose of peach pit and white flowers. Very mouthfilling with high acidity, spice, and a long, clean finish.
2011 Graffigna Pinot Grigio (Tulúm Valley, San Juan)
Very pale to nearly clear in the glass, the Pinot Grigio was so subtle in comparison to the Torrontés. Ripe with medium acidity.
2010 Dante Robino Bonarda (Santa Rosa, Mendoza)
Great smoky nose with a meaty palate. Bonarda like this is a perfect accompaniment to burgers and pizza. I agree with Nora that this is a rustic, but rich example of this varietal.
2009 Del Desierto 25/5 Cabernet Franc (La Pampa, Patagonia)
Incredibly unusual nose. Lots of dust and cocoa powder. The palate is intense showing more chocolate notes, spice, and minerality. Medium plus acidity and tannins give this Cabernet Franc great structure.
2007 Rutini Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon (Tupungato, Mendoza)
Cassis and dark fruits on nose and palate. This is one intense and very tannic wine. Tight. Bring on the steak!
Hopefully, Nora will do a presentation at next year’s Boston Wine Expo. With her passion for Argentine wines, fun presentation style, and infectious laugh, you won’t want to miss it.