Seagram Chateau & Estate Wines Co. recently purchased the rights to Argentina's Bodegas San Telmo brand line and has brought on two well-known American winemakers -- Paul Hobbs and Greg Fowler -- to help oversee the wine's production.
This will be the first time that Hobbs, whose eponymous California winery has won acclaim for its Chardonnays, has worked with Fowler, senior winemaker at Seagram-owned Mumm Cuvie Napa and Sterling Vineyards. But Hobbs is no stranger to Argentina, having served as a consultant to Argentina's Bodegas Esmeralda until 1997.
San Telmo, whose wines have not been available in the United States for several years, is using both purchased and estate-grown grapes to produce Malbec, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay from the Mendoza region. The wines, which will retail for about $10, have not yet been reviewed.
In an interesting twist, Seagram is marketing the wines via the Internet before eventually releasing the wines into its normal "three-tier" distribution system (from producer to wholesaler to retailer). About 18,000 cases have been allocated for the U.S. market, 3,000 of which are set aside for Web sales.
In other news, California's Domaine Chandon has joined the list of American wineries with investments in South America. Domaine Chandon recently renovated a facility in Argentina that it had previously leased to Allied Domecq for brandy production. The new winery, called Terrazas, will produce sparkling wine, along with several different bottlings of Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec. The wines' initial release in the United States is slated for June.
Full-access subscribers can see past ratings for Bodegas San Telmo wines.
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