02/02/2002 - Jancis Robinson
These were some of the most impressive wines I tasted in Argentina,
listed in approximate ascending order of price. Please note
that the 1998 vintage was hit by El Niño and is in general
a much less sumptuous vintage for reds than 1999 (a lovely year)
and 2000. Many stockists are still selling the 1998s unfortunately.
The subsequent vintage should be both better and less expensive.
6 March 2002
more stockists, see WineSearcher.
River Torrontes 2000 Humberto Canale, Rio Negro
inexpensive Patagonian made from a particularly gently textured
version of Argentina's signature white grape (grapy to lemon
sherbet flavours; full body). Should be under £4.
Terry Platt Wine Merchants, Llandudno
Tate-Smith Ltd, Castlegate, N Yorks
Hedley Wright Wine Merchants, Stansted, Essex
Arkells Brewery, Swindon
Mills Whitcombe, near Hay-on-Wye
Richards & Richards, Bury
Pierre Henck, Wolverhampton
Cadet Imports of Mt Vernon, NY
de Plata Torrontes/Chardonnay 2001 Etchart, Cafayate
made introduction to Torrontes. £3.99 Morrisons, Somerfield,
Budgen in the UK. Peerless Imports of NY in the US.
Gris 2001 Lurton, Valle de Uco
vintage from cuttings imported from Alsace yield well priced
Alsace richness on the nose, if slightly tight palate. £4.49
River Organic Merlot 2001 Humberto Canale, Rio Negro
exceedingly fashionable in Argentina, is Patagonia's vineyard
speciality. This is whistle-clean and refreshing. Argentina
is fast realising its organic potential. The Canale Reserve
Merlot 2000 (£9.99 Marks & Spencer) is deeply flavoured;
low yields really have paid off. For stockists, see the Black
River list above.
2000 Norton, Agrelo
creditable, lively, dryish, long-flavoured wine from low-yielding
vines originally selected by Weinert's renowned winemaker Raúl
de la Motta. Unfortunately Oddbins and Unwins don't import this
but the ripe, spicy Malbec at £4.99 is pretty good value. Hess
Pinot Grigio 2001
honeyed, lots of personality. Not imported into the UK unfortunately.
The 1999 Luhan de Cuyo Malbec from this bodega, run by
the Senetiner family who used to own Nieto y Senetiner, is pretty
good too - polished example of the country's signature grape.
US importer Senetiner, FL.
Montmayou Malbec 1999 Domaine Vistalba, Barrancas
everything - including the look of the labels - but great value.
This firm, a sister company to Infinitus in Patagonia, was set
up by a happy refugee from the Bordeaux négociant business,
tanned by the good life in Argentina. The 1998 is £5.99 Oddbins.
Cadet Imports of Mt Vernon, NY
David Torrontes 2001 Michel Torino, Cafayate
Germanically floral nose with lovely silky texture and a fine,
fruity mid-palate without being at all sweet. To be shipped
by Hallgarten Wines of Luton. This is a sister company of the
giant Trapiche which is part American-owned.
Reserva 2000 Nieto y Senetiner, Lujan de Cuyo
good value. This bodega's new (Argentine) owners are
buying higher altitude vineyards and successfully using less
oak on less expensive, gentle wines such as this and its Merlot
counterpart. Both £6.99 Asda. Leonard Kreusch of Walton, NY
Merlot Rio Negro
rich, full, fine and rather French, like the bodega's
winemaker and owner (both the same as Fabre Montmayou).
Malbec 1999 Lujan de Cuyo
example of the country's signature grape from the ex-owner of
Nieto y Senetiner. US importer Senetiner Inc, FL
Malbec 1999 Lunlunta
lively wine that spreads its ripeness over the palate. Good
value. £8.81 Bibendum Wine of London NW1. Billington Imports
in the US.
Bosca Cabernet Sauvignon 2000
syrupy, rich and comforting. Not exactly new wave but velvety
stuff from five different clones. £7.99 Adnams of Southwold.
Chatham Imports in the US.
La Florencia Malbec 2000 Cassone, Alto Agrelo
bodega with decisions taken by professional family and
exceptionally sophisticated wines made by a Pine Ridge-trained
son. Vines are up to 90 years old. See also the denser Obra
Prima Malbec 1999. H&H Bancroft of London SE1 0870 444 1702
and MHW Imports in the US.
Los Hormigas Malbec Reserva 1999 mainly La Consulta
Italian take on the Argentine grape. Velvety but without heavy
alcohol. Made by Alberto Antonini and shaped by Ital-American
Marc de Grazia. £14 Justerini & Brooks of London SW1 and Edinburgh.
Michael Skurnik Wines of Syosset, NY
Friulano 2000 Finca La Anita, Alto Agrelo
family bodega makes exceptional Syrah. Its Semillon can
age beautifully and the Tocai Friulano puts many an Italian
to shame. Not cheap though. £14.04 Caves de Pyrène of Artington,
Surrey 01483 538820
2001 O Fournier, Mendoza
one to watch from a family famous in Spain for playing cards
who have upped sticks from Burgos.
Malbec Reserva 2000 Perdriel
from a single, old vineyard transformed California-style into
a particularly opulent, slightly sweet mouthful.
Alta Chardonnay 2000 Tupungato
sunshine in a glass. Very direct product of ageing for a year
in all-new French oak. Not yet released but its predecessor
was almost £20 a bottle. Catena is the most reliable name in
Pinot Noir 1999, 2000 and 2001 Salentein, Valle de Uco
impressive gently textured and convincingly flavoured answer
to red burgundy from increasingly high vineyards. The 2002 will
contain fruit grown at 1500m. Its predecessor gained national
fame in Argentina for having been served at the recent Dutch
royal wedding. UK importer D & D Wines of Knutsford. Soon to
be imported into the US by San Francisco Wine Exchange. The
brother of Salentein's Dutch owner owns the Bernardus winery
in Carmel, California.
Malbec 1999 Terrazas de los Andes, Lujan de Cujo
of several successful wines from Chandon's ambitious still wine
bodega based on purchased old vineyards. Very sumptuous
style; more Argentine and less French than Infinitus and Fabre
Montmayou, for example. Young Lurton of Ch Cheval Blanc was
so impressed by the fruit in Argentina that he has developed
a red wine joint venture with Terrazas which should be launched
Great Northern Wine Company, Leeds (tel 0113 246 1200)
Philglass & Swiggot, London (tel 020 7924 4494)
Villeneuve Wines, Edinburgh (tel 01721 722500)
The Vineyard, Dorking (tel 01306 876 828)
Wadebridge Wines (tel 01208 812 692)
Wimbledon Wine Cellars, London (tel 020 8540 9979)
Richardson & Sons Fine Wine Merchants, Cumbria (tel 01946 692
Gordons of Bolton Ltd (tel 01204 697 805)
Schieffelin imports these wines in the US
importer of small producer's wines (no-one over six foot allowed)
The Wine Messenger of New Rochelle, NY (tel 914 632 4829, web
is a useful source of wines imported from Canale, Dolium, Fabre
Montmayou, Infinitus, Jean Rivier, Lunlunta, Salentein, Temporada
and Viña Amalia. They are a licensed retailer in 18 states.
supplest, most voluptuous of the first three vintages (from
1999) of a joint venture at more than 2000m, between Michel
Rolland and Arnaldo Etchart whose large family company was sold
and is now a subsidiary of Pernod Ricard. Malbec with a little
Cabernet Sauvignon and even less Tannat. Sold through Bordeaux
Millésimes of Bordeaux.
Malbec/Merlot 1999 Trapiche
priced but hugely enjoyable cooperative effort between Trapiche's
improbably named Señor Vino Angel Mendoza and Pomerol's Monsieur
Merlot Michel Rolland. One of the few wines I saw selling for
less in Buenos Aires than is asked for it in Britain. The 1998
is £29.50 at Harrods, London SW1. Peerless Importers, NY
Cabernet/Malbec (70/30) blend from Eric de Rothschild and Catena
(Ca, Ro - geddit?) to be launched in September. Notably more
elegant than most Argentine reds and very, very long. The aim,
to make a wine of which one could enjoy two bottles, seems to
have been achieved. And caro is what Baron Eric's Italian
wife calls him too. Aaahhh.
6 March 2002
Catena Zapata 1999 Agrelo
have been fine red wines whose names combine various permutations
of the words Catena, Zapata and Angelica at the top end of Buenos
Aires' relatively expensive wine lists for some years now, but
it was only with the 1997 vintage that this dynamic company
launched a seriously ambitious Cabernet-based wine on the outside
world. At tastings in the US and UK, Nicolas Catena Zapata 1997
was shown blind alongside such wines as Opus One and Bordeaux
first growths of the same vintage (not exactly glorious for
Bordeaux of course) to wine trade professionals. At the session
I attended (and, I believe, the American ones) most tasters'
favourite wine was the Argentine newcomer. (I preferred Ch Latour
but Zapata was certainly no disgrace.)
The next, El Niño, vintage has been skipped for this label but
the 1999, to be launched in March 2003, is already finer than
the 1997 with much more elegant tannins and no less ambition.
The 1999 vintage is based on super-ripe Cabernet Sauvignon from
Agrelo bolstered by nine per cent Malbec from the cooler La
Consulta area and four per cent Merlot from a high altitude
vineyard in Tupungato which is already showing an affinity for
this variety. The grapes were picked at the end of March and
this is no monster. The alcohol level of 13.8 per cent is well
balanced by inky yet flattering fresh fruit and an attractively
The UK agents Bibendum Wine of London NW1 offered their small
allocation of the 1997 at just under £40 a bottle which is certainly
ambitious enough. I would hope that the 1999 will be offered
at less than this since the dramatic devaluation of Argentina's
peso but I know that the bodega's talented winemaker
Pedro Marchevsky (whose wife makes such thoughtfully made wines
as Anubis) has argued to owner Dr Nicolas Catena that any reduction
in price would signify a lack of confidence in the wine's quality.
As a consumer champion I do not of course agree, but I'm sure
that however they eventually decide to price this wine, it will
sell with ease. (US importers Billington Wines.)