A few years back I was on a bit of a whirlwind trip through various Mendoza vineyards that included a day spent in San Rafael, in the south, along with David and Rachel Cane, two wine, food and travel journalists from California. We were flown from Mendoza to San Rafael in a small, four-seater Cessna, a different approach to winery visiting. There was no question, particularly on the part of my companions, that wine tasting was a necessary conclusion to the flight. Making things much easier, the past few years, a group of wineries from San Rafael have held annual tastings here in Buenos Aires – I usually go, but I rarely write it up – mostly because my sense is that when I do post tasting notes, you all get bored. Ah well.
The tasting was held at the Algodon Mansion, here in Recoleta, a couple of days ago. The “trade” part of the tasting was a two hour block in the afternoon – I carefully arrived at the very beginning, these things get packed fast – by the time an hour into it rolled around, it was near impossible to approach any of the tables to taste anything. As such, I only got to work my way through most of the whites, roses and dessert wines, and didn’t get into the reds. Oh, how should I rate these – scale of 10?
Bodega Iaccarini Chardonnay 2013 – 100% Chardonnay, aged 3 months in French and American oak barriques with 2-3 years usage – fruit forward, stone fruits, medium high acidity, a hint of tannins, minerally, metallic, eucalyptus, short finish. [5/10]
Via Blanca Syrah Rosé 2013 – 100% Syrah, all stainless steel production – fruit forward, berry fruit, light earthiness, medium high acidity, and a hint of barnyard character towards the medium length finish. [6/10]
Jean Rivier Sauvignon Blanc 2015 – 100% Sauvignon Blanc – fruit forward, grapefruit and grapefruit pith, medium acidity, hint of metal, medium length finish. [7/10]
Jean Rivier Tocai 2013 – 100% Tocai Friulano – fruit forward, ripe apple, minerally, medium acidity, well balanced, long finish, one of the best Tocais I’ve tried outside of Italy – [8/10]
Jean Rivier Chardonnay 2013 – 100% Chardonnay – wood, wood, wood – all oak and coconut and vanilla upfront, with just hints of white pear in the background, fairly low, flat acidity, short finish. [5/10]
Jean Rivier Malbec Rosé 2015 – 100% Malbec – fruit forward, berries and plums, a bit of fizz to it, medium acidity, relatively full bodied for a rose, medium finish. [6/10]
Jean Rivier Cosecha Tardia 2012 – 100% Sauvignon Blanc, late harvest – fruit forward, melons, hint of graham flour, honey, medium sweet, well balanced, long finish. [7/10]
Cason Iselin Tempranillo Rosé Doux 2015 – 100% Tempranillo, late harvest – quite sweet, fruit forward, red fruits and flowers, moderate acidity, short finish. [4/10]
Cason Iselin Sauvignon Blanc Doux 2015 – 100% Sauvignon Blanc, late harvest – weird bitterness, stony minerality, lemon pith, medium sweet, short finish. [4/10]
Goyenechea Tocai Dulce Natural 2015 – 100% Tocai Friulano – fruit forward, figs, medium sweet, medium acidity, very well balanced, long finish. [7/10]
Lorenza de Goyenechea Tardío Sauvignon Blanc 2013 – 100% Sauvignon Blanc, part stainless steel and part barrique matured – fruit forward, figs, cane molasses, graham, medium acidity, long finish, well balanced. [7/10]
Goyenechea Rosé Merlot 2014 – 100% Merlot, stainless steel maturation – light weight, sour cherry, stemmy, medium acidity, short finish. [4/10]
Alfredo Roca Tocai 2014 – 100% Tocai Friulano – austere, dry, high acidity, little fruit, water-chestnut, short finish. [3/10]
Alfredo Roca Torrontés 2014 – 100% Torrontés – dry, minerally, hints of apricot, wet stone, little fruit, medium finish. [4/10]
Alfredo Roca Chardonnay 2013 – 100% Chardonnay – minerally, dry, notable oak, green stemminess, medium to high acidity, short finish. [3/10]
Alfredo Roca Merlot Rosé – 100% Merlot – cherry, stemmy, dry, stony minerality, medium acidity, short finish. [3/10]
Just a note, this was a bit shocking. I’ve always liked Roca’s wines in past years, and used the Tocai from past vintages many times for our dinners – and while they do tend towards a drier, more minerally than fruit forward style, these were almost devoid of fruit, and just austere. I don’t know if something happened with the wines brought in for the tasting, or there’s been a change in winemaking style, but something was definitely off.
Efusivo Sauvignon Blanc 2015 – fruit forward, grapefruit, bell pepper, grassy, dry, high acidity, medium finish. [5/10]
Espumante 2015 – an as yet unnamed and unreleased wine, to be introduced later this year – 70% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay – slightly foamy, medium high acidity, fruit forward with lots of berry fruit, medium finish, slightly one note – it’s clearly not ready to be released, I’d want to retaste it when they’ve got it to the point where they’re ready to do so.
Camino al Nevado Chardonnay 2013 – 100% Chardonnay – fruit forward, pear, herbal, quite high acidity, notable notes of shoe polish (Brettanomyces?), medium finish. [3/10]
Camino al Nevado Tempranillo Rosé 2012 – 100% Tempranillo – off dry, berry fruit, stony minerality, flat acidity, medium finish. [4/10]
Gamela Torrontés 2015 – 100% Torrontés – dry, apricots, minerally, medium high acidity, short finish. [5/10]
Pampa Estate Moscato 2014 – 100% Moscato (as best I can determine, this wine seems to be labeled for Pampa Beverages in the U.S., and isn’t offered here in Argentina – Lavaque does have a Moscato labeled Conquista here, though I don’t know if that’s the same wine just with a different label) – semi sweet, floral, ground cherries, medium acidity, well balanced, medium to long finish. [6/10]
Overall, a surprisingly poor showing for the tasting – admittedly, as noted, I didn’t get to the reds, and there were a couple of whites and roses that I didn’t get to either. It just got too crowded. Does make me wish I’d tried the reds instead though.