FAB's to taste and discuss wines of Argentina. No restriction was made regarding white or red or region - except NO Malbec (having done a Malbec tasting last year), and our delightful assistant, Amelia, made sure the whites were delivered to us first, followed by the reds. Tasting was done blind, with the reveal at the end.
Some background on Argentina, the 5th largest producer of wine in the world. As with some aspects of their cuisine, Argentina has its roots in Spain, who colonized the Americas back in the mid-1500s. The most important wine regions are Mendoza, San Juan and La Rioja. Salta, Catamarca, Rio Negro and Buenos Aires are also producing wines. Mendoza produces more than 60% of Argentine wine and is the source of the highest percentage of exports. Due to the high altitude and low humidity, Argentine winemakers rarely face the problems of insects, fungi, mold, and other grape diseases that affect other countries. This allows cultivation with little or no pesticides and a large number of organic wines produced.
Argentina has also become THE place for Malbec, formerly thought of as a French grape, and other traditionally French and Spanish grapes do extremely well there. Torrontés, an aromatic, moderately acidic grape has come to the forefront of white wines made in Argentina.
In order of tasting - after the reveal:
1. 2011 Diseño Torrontés, Salta - Clear, light gold in color; Citrus, peach, grass, mint, lime, and minerality in the nose. Tart on the palate, with pithy, lime zest and a pleasant acidic finish. Pair with seafood, spicy Thai food or something fatty. Delicious! $12 at Bevmo
2. 2012 Chaltan Riserva Sauvignon Blanc, Patagonia - The clear, straw-colored wine smelled of wet stone and seaweed. And Band-Aids. On the palate, it was soft, light, watery. Rico compared it to Muzak - light, easy-listening music. Meh. $10 at Total Wine & More
3. 2010 La Vuetta Torrontés, Mendoza - Clear and pale straw with mushrooms and citrus in the nose. Olivia said it was 'tingly'. In the mouth, unfortunately, it was like grandma's dirty old carpet...with a citrus finish. A bad bottle? Maybe. $9.99 at Total Wine and More
4. 2011 Tikal Patriota Red Blend (60% Malbec/40% Bonarda), Mendoza - Oh boy! Opaque, deep blue-red. Chocolate, blueberries, boysenberry in the nose opened to mildly tannic dark chocolate with orange overtones in the mouth. Lush, beautifully balanced. Pair with chocolate-coated pork or any meat in a spicy molé sauce. (92 Points: Wine Advocate) $21 at Vendome
5. 2009 Maipe Reserva Old Vine Bonarda, Mendoza - Almost opaque, garnet/orange with high viscosity. On the nose, stewed fruit, high alcohol. In the mouth the stiff bitter finish made us wonder if the wine should have been decanted. It was a questionable bottle. $14.99 at Total Wine and More
6. 2009 Finca Flichman Paisaje de Barrancas Red Blend (Syrah, Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon), Mendoza - Deep garnet in color, molasses, brown sugar and soy sauce on the nose. Chocolaty, firm tannins with a slightly bitter middle palate and a minty finish. Needed to open. Yummy. $19 at Total Wine and More
7. 2009 Valentin Syrah, Mendoza - Light, clear purple red color; this smelled like...wine. Smoky, black peppercorn, plum, blackberry, leather, proscuitto, with overtones of balsamic vinegar - in a good way. In the mouth dark pitted fruit, meaty, dusty tannins, and a dusty finish made for a winner. Pair with grilled game meats. This wine can age. $12 at Bevmo
8. Finca Libertad Benegas Red Blend (34% Cabernet Sauvignon/33% Cabernet Franc/33% Merlot), Mendoza - Clear, bricky red in color. Lots of alcohol on the nose with tar, tobacco, wood (Olivia said 'bonsai'), and...um...bologna. That's what Rico smelled. On the palate, big big big tannins, tobacco and leather with a char on the finish. We thought we'd pair with it something nutty, cheesy, salty, but first we'd leave it in the bottle for another 5 years. $27 at Total Wine and More
Thanks to Xochitl, Barbara, Olivia, Debra, Rico, Shawn, JD and the staff at FAB's! As always, an interesting and educational evening. Next month: South Africa!