Buenos Aires – I was invited to attend the inaugural tasting of a new wine tourism group, Buenos Vinos, last night. Launched by three completely charming young women, this group is offering an introduction to Argentine wine for tourists and locals alike. There intent is to offer tastings several times per week, each led by a local sommelier (of which I may end up being one), and alternating between Spanish and English presentations – and who knows, down the line perhaps other languages. Last night’s event was an invitation only event for folks in the trade, to get a feel for what they are up to, and hopefully help promote them a bit.
(More information direct from them at Buenos Vinos.)
For an inaugural event it went quite well, the usual first time jitters like starting slightly late, but quite well organized. The tastings are being held in the restaurant at the Museo Evita, with a recommendation for tourists to spend some time touring the museum beforehand. The museum is housed in an early 20th Century building that is quite beautiful, and well worth a visit, which I did the first time I came to Buenos Aires. The restaurant is nicely setup and surrounds a courtyard where we started the evening with a glass of sparkling wine. From there it proceeded to a “sit-down” presentation and tasting of five more wines from different regions of Argentina. The information presented was, perhaps, a bit too technical, being oriented more towards a sommelier program than a tourist program, and hopefully they’ll tone that down a little – it’s most likely just a case of a sommelier (in this case one of the top sommeliers in the country) being used to lecturing to sommelier trainees rather than the public. It’s timed well, running just over an hour, which is perfect for this sort of event.
Miguel Escorihuela Gascón Rosé Extra Brut “Pequeñas Producciones” 2004 – A 100% Pinot Noir, methode champenoise sparkler from the Luján de Cuyo subsection of Mendoza. Bone dry, light, delicate, and with delicious berry fruit. A slight touch alcoholic on the finish, but still something quite special, one of the better sparklers I’ve had from Argentina. Also a beautiful rosé color – perfect for a cocktail party in a courtyard or garden! Recommended.
Don David Torrontés Reserva 2004 – 100% Torrontés, Argentina’s star white grape, from the Cafayate region of Salta. Typically very aromatic, in this case a whole bouquet of wildflowers and a strong nose of underripe apricots. The apricot carries over into the palate where it is very intense, along with a strong note of hazelnuts. The wine is a bit high in acidity to drink on its own, but would pair beautifully with a slightly sweet-fleshed fish or shellfish – Chilean sea bass if it ever stops being boycotted, or scallops would be great choices. Somewhat alcoholic on the finish (14% alcohol in this one). Good, but I’d want to try it again with food.
Callia Magna Syrah 2004 – 100% Syrah from the Valle de Tulum in San Juan. I’m not a huge fan of South American Syrah, so I hope I’m not biased in my thoughts on this from the start. This wine was fairly one dimensional, there was very little structure other than an overwhelming presence of alcohol. Flavors of raspberry jam and dust kind of hovered in the background, but really didn’t show through well. I went back and tasted it after it sat in the glass for about half an hour and the alcohol had toned down a bit but was still the dominant factor. Not recommended.
Malma Reserva Merlot 2003 – 100% Merlot from the Neuquén province in Patagonia. Certainly one of the better Merlots I’ve had from South America. Surprisingly, given that it was revealed that this wine is made from very young vines, the fruit did not taste green, which would be typical. Ripe, rich, blackberry jam and bitter cocoa, with well balanced acidity and soft tannins. The oak is present but well integrated. Although there is a sense that the wine is “big” in the alcoholic sense (15%!), the fruit stands up to it well. This would be a great wine with a gamier red meat, or something like a roast duck. Recommended.
D.V. Catena Malbec-Malbec 2002 – 100% Malbec from the Luján de Cuyo region in Mendoza. Why “Malbec-Malbec?” I have no idea. Catena does the same with their Cabernet and Chardonnay from the “D.V.” line, which is their prestige line. Juicy, ripe black cherry fruit, white pepper and soft tannins. Very elegant. Slightly alcoholic on the finish, but this is clearly made to impress the “international palate” with a bit style Malbec. A perfectly grilled steak would balance this wine, well, perfectly. Recommended.
Trapiche Ciento Veinte Años 2002 – The only blend of the evening, taking the classic Bordeaux blend, but instead of the Cabernets and Merlot being the usual 80-90% of the blend, Malbec takes a stronger stance here – 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Malbec, 20% Merlot, 13% Cabernet Franc, and 7% Petit Verdot – from the Maipú Valley in Mendoza. Bright red currant fruit, very “juicy,” black pepper, and a hint of chalky soil. Well integrated structure with good acidity, soft tannins, and noticeable but not overpowering oak. Drink on its own or with a steak. Highly recommended. (I liked this wine quite a bit during the Salon del Vino back in October as well.)