Everyone in the press seems to be writing his or her year-end recollections or discoveries. I just read the New York Times today and it was full of year-end discoveries in food and wine. Some of it seemed pretty obvious to me, but the NYT sometimes likes doing that sort of re-coining of the obvious. Me too, for that matter!
So, I guess I better chime in too. I have a number of them, so you might see a few over the next couple of days. A blog is supposed to be rather spontaneous, or I think a lot of what one blogs should come from the heart, or just off the cuff as I used to say when I lived in England.
Anyway, one discovery for me this year, and it wouldn’t be for many of you, has been the wines of Argentina. I am really interested in them. Of course, I have tasted them on occasion over the last 10 or 15 years, and the improvement in quality has been outstanding. But recently, the more I taste (or drink) the best reds, the more I am impressed. In fact, it makes me want to go to Argentina and see it all for myself.
Last night, I stopped in for a steak at the Argentine restaurant Carlitos Gardel with a friend and we drank a bottle of 2004 Achával-Ferrer Quimera Mendoza. Whenever I am in Los Angeles, I try to go to this restaurant, not so much for the good hearty food and friendly atmosphere as for the wine list. It’s not an award winner, but it has a super selection of Argentine wines and they are reasonably priced. Moreover, owner Max Bozoghlian knows his stuff about the country’s wines, and he likes to share his experiences with me.
My colleague James Molesworth rated highly the 2004 blend of Malbec, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. And I loved it last night. Granted, it was still just a baby, but it was already very drinkable. It was extremely aromatic with gorgeous boysenberry and currant character that got better and better as the wine stayed in the glass. The palate was full-bodied, with lush velvety tannins and a long, long finish. I gave it 93 points in this non-blind tasting.
What is impressive is that the top reds of Argentina, like the 2004 Quimera, are rich yet remain balanced and fresh. They remind me of many top reds from Italy, whereby they have lots of fruit and an almost jammy nature, but they are fresh and very clean when you drink them. Even when they are young, they beckon you to drink them. And that’s what I am doing …