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stirring the lees with james molesworth

Argentina Creates a Buzz

Photo by: David Yellen

Posted: Sep 26, 2006 12:07pm ET

I stopped in at the Wines of Argentina trade show here in NYC yesterday. There were around 70 wineries pouring their wares, and a good crowd showed up (press and trade only).

A solid buzz filled the room, and it was good to see. It’s a big deal for some of these wineries to pay their way here and show off their wines, and they were happy to be so well-received. Argentina is definitely on the upswing--particularly with Malbec--though there remains a large amount of weak wine as well. Getting a critical mass of quality-oriented wineries that can establish Argentina as a true category here is the next big step.

You can check out my next annual report on Argentina in the upcoming Nov. 30 issue. In the meantime, let me know if you’ve tried any Argentinean wines lately...

Tomorrow morning, I'm off to Kiawah Island, S.C., for my one final, massive, crazy golf fling of the year (five rounds in four days, including one on the famous Ocean Course). I’ve got my handicap down to an all-time low, and am anxious to see how I fare on some difficult tracks.

So I won't be around to chime in. I'll be back next week ... until then, cheers!

Daniel Heise
September 26, 2006 5:38pm ET
James, It¿s tough to beat a good argentine Malbec pairing with Bife de Chorizo, ojo del bife or any type of "churrasco" or Brazilian barbecue rodizio. The match is simply perfect. From the great value of a Terrazas reserva Malbec to a top quality Noemia you can find many excelent options. But I would say that¿s it, the cabernets are overly tannic and one dimensional, their purpose should only be too add structure and depth to the Malbec on a blend. The merlots are too alcoholic and monolitic and the rest doesn¿t seem worth noting. I quit trying anything apart from the Malbecs that I try to keep a regular stock. Catena is clearly the safe bet on quality but there are a dozen of other good names too.By the way, how far down you¿ve managed to bring your handicap down to? I find it really hard to manage my rounds of golf after good wine dinners on the previous night. How about you?
Kenneth Woodin
New Jersey —  September 26, 2006 9:05pm ET
Just got back from ten days tasting in Chile and Argentina. Look for Ricardo Santos malbec 04 and 05, outstanding.
Fred Brown
September 26, 2006 9:24pm ET
We loved the Luigi Bosca 2002 Malbec Luj¿de Cuyo DOC in Argentina this spring, and were able to find a case here last month. It is better than the 88 points from WS, with great fruit and full body right now. For value, at $20/bottle, you can't beat it. The Bodegas Terrazas de los Andes 2003 Malbec Mendoza Reserva is also drinking well right now.
Richard Hirth
Michigan —  September 26, 2006 9:25pm ET
Hit 'em straight!
Henry Champagne
Springfield, MA —  September 26, 2006 10:13pm ET
The latest Argentinian wine i've tried was El Portillo, i had their cab. And honestly, at such a low price, i was pleasantly surprised.
Apj Powers
Dallas, TX —  September 27, 2006 2:17am ET
Mauricio Lorca!! Try the Poetico Malbec. We serve it by-the-gls. One of our top sellers. Unoaked. Good fruit. Some stucture but not too hvy. It does have a splash of CAB, SYR. Aromatics plus. Bodega Huarpe is a keeper too. The Cab is deep drk puple/black. A touch of Malbec keeps it smooth & juicy w/ plenty of backbone.
Robert Mathews
September 27, 2006 9:59am ET
We ordered a Dominio del Plata Cabernet Sauvignon Mendoza Crios de Susana Balbo 2004 last week while dining out with my parents. Actually we ordered 3 bottles, if that gives you any indication to how much we liked it. It had been awhile since I had a wine from Argentina and this example reminded me of the great value to be found here.
Hector Almeida
NY —  September 27, 2006 1:48pm ET
I went to a wine show in Brazil last August, where I probably had the best Mendoza Malbec that I ever drank. It is the Malbec Brote Negro by Vina Alicia. Funny enough, JM does not seem to like the Alicia wines that much. I found they had a depth of character that is often missing from a more basic Malbec. The Brote is clearly for the long run, though, it was almost painfully intense to taste (vintage 2003). I also met the winemaker, who happens to be the wife of Leoncio Arizu from Luigi Bosca (who was also in the show). Very nice fellows! Leoncio agrees that the Brote Negro is a very special wine, he gave me a long explanation about clones and sites, he seemed really passionate about the wine. Alicia also makes some interesting wines like a Nebbiolo (too oaky and blowsy for my taste), and a nice varietal from Petit Verdot. The wines are very expensive ($50 or so). Maybe JM will like them better the next time around? Or maybe I was too influenced by the passion of the winemakers...
Phil Daniels
Philadelphia, PA —  September 27, 2006 3:34pm ET
I have not found anything else from Argentina to match the overall quality of the 2002 Malbecs. The most outstanding of these is the '02 Bramare Marchiori Vineyards (a Paul Hobbs project). The tannins are just right, there's casis and mocha...the fruit just sings...It's gorgeous. The Catena Malbec from that year is quite good as well....More recent vintages have shown this varietal can still do well in the value range, and I concur with the props for Terrazas Reserve. Alas, I cannot afford to buy much of the Achaval-Ferrer Altamira...and the recent bottlings of Bramare have soared to $75+ per bottle. The genie truly is out of the bottle, now.
Jack Zucker
Dix Hills, NY —  September 27, 2006 4:42pm ET
Discovered Malbec 5 years ago and it has been getting better and better. Favorite is Catena Alamos, our every-day table wine at under $10.00 by the case. Nichalos sure makes some great wine.
Rick Klotz
Lake —  September 28, 2006 12:35pm ET
I'm almost afraid to mention this one because there will be less for me, but...the 2003 Bodega Norton Privada is terrific right now. It's also a good value for sub-$20. It's a big wine, burley and a bit rustic so it may not be everyone's taste, but it goes beautifully with chargrilled beef. Just leave a few on the shelf for me....
Zarmair Keshishian
September 28, 2006 1:08pm ET


My wife and I spent 4 weeks in Argentina last month..What can I say, if any of you get the chance to visit, grab the opportunity and GO !!

Argentina is a land blessed with natural wonders and eye popping scenery as it possess such a wide diversity both in climate and terrain. As if that wasn't enough it is a culturally rich country. The people are also super friendly and just so naturally hospitable.

Now to the wine ! Wherever we were in Argentina we drank daily. While we were in Mendoza we had the chance to visit a number of wineries such as Achaval Ferrer, Catena Zapata, Dominio del Plata, Ruca Malen, Enrique Foster and Tapiz. We ended up buying two cases and managed to pack everything into our suitcases (yes nothing broke) In addition to enjoying the wines from the mentioned wineries we enjoyed both Acrux and Bcrux from O.Fournier, Alta Vista, Carlos Pulenta, Tikal and Bianchi. There are also many boutique wineries that produce some fantastic wines and we had the chance to enjoy wines produced by Finca La Anita, Carmelo Patti and Walter Bressia, some very juicy reds.

From Mendoza we traveled around Patagonia where we were so impressed to see that up and coming wine producing provinces such as Rio Negro and Neuquen are starting to hold their own. Here we enjoyed some nice Pinot Noirs, Malbecs and Sav.Blancs.

Argentina is no longer just Malbec, there are so many varietals that are performing well. It is also nice to see how wine is so inbred within the cultural, there is a real passion for wine and Argentineans are justifiably proud of their connection to it all. Throughout Argentina we enjoyed Malbecs, Cabs, Syrahs, Pinot Noirs and a number of blends not to mention some very nice whites.

Regarding the 2005 harvest, I spoke to many individuals from the Industry who believe that the 2005 harvest may be as good as 2002 BUT that 2006 will be the best ever yet.
Zarmair Keshishian
September 28, 2006 1:10pm ET
James follwing my earlier post, while I agree with you that there are weak wines around it seems more and more that there is undeniable consistency towards overall quality and real substance. Foreign and local investment continues to pour in as the world has take notice of what Argentina is really capable of...
Richard Auffrey
MA —  September 29, 2006 1:58pm ET
I have recently enjoyed several Argentine wines using the Bonarda varietal. These have been inexpensive wines, $10 and less, and have been surprisingly good values. My favorite has been the 2004 Las Moras Bonarda.
Anacleto Ludovic
paris france  —  September 29, 2006 3:53pm ET
try the malbesc pedriel del centenario from Norton and the affordable bomb from achaval ferrer the Quimera .both are massive wines and are top sellers in my wine list .the quimera is mind blowing!!!!
Lee Edwards
Little Rock, Arkansas —  September 30, 2006 1:31pm ET
Bressia profundo is great from the 2002 vintage. the quimera blend from the achaval ferrer group is outstanding, and not in need of laying down time that the more expensive fincas demand.
Michael Holzer
Miami Fl —  September 30, 2006 11:25pm ET
Just recently getting back from a trip to Argentina with my 1 year old daughter. Visited many wineries, including those listed here (catena, Dominio, Terazzas) but my favorite wine is from San Pedro de Yacochuya. Both the San Pedro de Yacochuya 2003, and the Yacochuya 2002 (More than 16% ETOH) are incredible wines and are great values, especially if purchased at their bodega. I had drank the former in Rio, and it was my main reason for visiting Cafayate 6 months later.
Robert Gott
Doral/Florida —  October 1, 2006 11:31am ET
James, Had the 2004 Poesia Clos des Andes this past week. Dense, full bodied and lots of plum, blackberry, and dark chocolate. Very nice wine and a great QPR. Like Michael above I too picked up a bottle of the 2002 San Pedro de Yacochuya when I was in Argentina but noticed you didn't review this vintage. Any reason why this one got skipped? I found it to be an exceptional wine with potential to improve with age. Hope you enjoyed the golf and am very much looking forward to the Nov. 30 issue!
Fred Anderson
Lansing, Michigan —  October 2, 2006 9:16am ET
James,I have recently had several different wines from Argentina. The wines that were ready to drink were Clos de los Siete 2003 and 2004 (probably would get even better in another year)and Lurton Gran Lurton Cab 2001. I also had the Norton Privada 2004 and it seemed a bit young but something that would improve with a little more time.
Neil Martin
Michigan —  October 2, 2006 9:50am ET
For a first date this summer (a post-concert tailgate for 2) I prepared some great food, had a split of champagne, and a bottle of Trapiche single-vineyard Malbec. She spent several minutes taking in the bouquet, loved every sip of it, and for quite a while after the last of it was gone from her glass, she breathed in the remnants clinging to the glass. It became, and still is, one of our favorite wines.
James Molesworth
October 2, 2006 10:14am ET
Well, I'm back. Glad to see you folks have tried some Argentine wines. Some good picks in there too - like the Norton, Poesia and Terrazas wines.

Hector: No, I wasn't crazy about the Alicia wines when I had them. They haven't sent in a new set of samples since then either.

Robert: I tasted '99, '00 and '03 San Pedro de Yacochuya - but the '01 and '02 were never sent in. Like most Rolland wines from Argentina (Siete, etc), it's left with negociants in Bordeaux instead of an importer here, so distribution is spotty at best.
Zarmair Keshishian
October 2, 2006 11:23pm ET
Following my earlier posts, the following wines comprise of what I have tried since January 2006. Almost all these wines rate between 87 to 96 points on WS's rating scale. I pretty much agree with JM's ratings for all of them so for the most part they were really enjoyable to drink. Like JM, I also agree that the Benegas Meritage is simply too heavy. Achaval Ferrer Altamira 2003Achaval Ferrer Quimera 2003Achaval Ferrer Malbec 2004Aleph Malbec 2003 MalbecAleph Cab. Sav 2003Andeluna Pasionado 2003Altos Las Hormigas 2004Benegas Meritage 2002Benegas Cab. Sav 2005Ben Marco Malbec 2004Ben Marco Cab. Sav 2004Fin del Mundo Pinot Noir 2004 ReservaFin del Mundo Malbec 2003Carlos Pulenta Corte BCatena Alta Malbec 2002Catena Alta Cab. Sav 2001Catena Alta Chardonnay 2002Catena Chardonnay 2004Catena Malbec 2003Clos de los Siete 2003 & 2004Gascon Viognier 2005 La Posta Del Vinatero Bonarda 2003 Luigi Bosca 2003Melipal 2004Melipal 2004 ReservaNoemia A Lisa 2004Norton Privada 2002 & 2003Norton Perdriel 2002O.Fournier Acrux 2002O.Fournier Bcrux 2003Preludio Acorde Reserva 2003 Ruca Malen 2003 MalbecRuca Malen 2002 Cab.SavRutini 2002 & 2003 MalbecSusana Balbo Crios Malbec / Bonarda 2005Tapiz Sav. Blanc 2005Terrazas Malbec Reserva 2003 & 2004Tikal Amorio 2003Tikal Patriota 2004Valentin Bianchi Cab. Sav 2004Viniterra Malbec & Syrah 2004Xumek Syrah 2002 & 2003Zuccardi Zeta 2002
Zarmair Keshishian
October 3, 2006 3:07am ET
Following my earlier posts, the following wines comprise of what I have tried since January 2006. Almost all these wines rate between 87 to 96 points on WS's rating scale with many of them hitting 90 or above. I pretty much agree with JM's ratings for all of them so for the most part they were really enjoyable to drink. Like JM, I also agree that the Benegas Meritage is simply too heavy.

Apart from the single red varietals on my list; Most of the blends and there are quite a few on my list with the exception of the above mentioned Benegas were really outstanding. Generally speaking though a number of these wines are on the expensive side, many of them list for under $25.00, making the overall QPR really exceptional.



Achaval Ferrer Altamira 2003Achaval Ferrer Quimera 2003Achaval Ferrer Malbec 2004 Aleph Malbec 2003 Malbec Aleph Cab. Sav 2003 Andeluna Pasionado 2003 Altos Las Hormigas Malbec 2004 Benegas Meritage 2002 Benegas Cab. Sav 2005 Ben Marco Malbec 2004 Ben Marco Cab. Sav 2004 Carlos Pulenta Corte B 2003 Catena Alta Malbec 2002 Catena Alta Cab. Sav 2001 Catena Alta Chardonnay 2002 Catena Chardonnay 2004 Catena Malbec 2003 Clos de los Siete 2003 & 2004 Fin del Mundo Pinot Noir 2004 Reserva Fin del Mundo Malbec 2003 Gascon Viognier 2005 La Posta Del Vinatero Bonarda 2003 Luigi Bosca 2003 Melipal 2004 Melipal Malbec Reserva 2004Melipal Malbec 2004Noemia A Lisa 2004Norton Privada 2002 & 2003 Norton Perdriel 2002 O.Fournier Acrux 2002O.Fournier Bcrux 2003 Preludio Acorde Reserva 2003 Ruca Malen 2003 MalbecRuca Malen 2002 Cab. Sav Rutini 2002 & 2003 Malbec Susana Balbo Crios Malbec / Bonarda 2005 Tapiz Sav. Blanc 2005 Terrazas Malbec Reserva 2003 & 2004 Tikal Amorio 2003 Tikal Patriota 2004 Walter Bressia Profundo 2003Valentin Bianchi Cab. Sav 2004 Viniterra Malbec & Syrah 2004 Xumek Syrah 2002 & 2003Zuccardi Q TempranilloZuccardi Zeta 2002
Renato Rique
October 13, 2008 6:36pm ET
Their Pinot Noir Chacra 32 is not bad, it is actually one of the best Pinots I have tasted outside of Burgundy.

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