Tasting No. 188 – May 22, 2017- Modern Wines from Argentina


 Club del Vino


Capri Ristorante, McLean VA


1. Presenters and Participants

Wines presenters: Italo Mirkow, Raúl Sanguinetti


MembersMario Aguilar, Marcello Averburg, Jorge Claro, Ruth Connolly, Clara Estrada, Alberto Gómez, Jaime Jaramillo, Peter Lapera, Orlando Mason, Ítalo Mirkow, John Redwood, Lucía Redwood, Jorge Requena, Alfonso Sánchez, Jairo Sánchez, Raúl Sanguinetti, Ricardo Santiago, Xavi Vila, Germán Zincke.


Type of Tasting: Open

2. Tasting Overview  

Argentina’s wine production has evolved dramatically in the last two decades.  Producers have moved from the flag bearer Malbec into rediscovered Bordeaux-type blends and varietals based on a wide range of grapes (for instance Cabs, Merlot, Bonarda, Torrontes, etc.).  Moreover there has been a strong movement to produce wines that reflect  the specificities of the terroir led by many renowned winemakers, such as Laura Catena and others.  The  main objective of this tasting is to explore new wines from Argentina.

3. The Menu

  1. Lobster Bisque
  2. Spinach agnolotti with pink sauce
  3. Arugula salad
  4. Veal scallopini with mushrooms and rosemary sauce
  5. Dessert/Coffee

4. Information on the Wines

(The information below has been compiled from varios internet sources) .

2014 Catena Alta – Chardonnay – Catena Zapata


The Wine: Winemaker’s Notes: The Catena Alta Chardonnay shows an intense green-yellow color with golden highlights. The nose offers ripe white fruit aromas such as pears and peaches that are interwoven with delicate citrus and floral notes, such as Jasmine. The palate shows rich and concentrated ripe pear, apple and apricot flavors with a light note of minerality. The wine finishes long and complex with crisp, mineral acidity.

At almost 5,000 feet elevation in the Andean foothills, the Adrianna vineyard’s calcareous soils and cool climate are the promised land of Chardonnay. The fruit from the Adrianna vineyard has a purity of flavors and a minerality that is particular to this vineyard and can not be found anywhere else in Mendoza. The nearby, gravel-covered Domingo Vineyard makes up 20% of the blend. Elevage: 14 months in French oak barrels.

Pair this full-bodied Chardonnay with full-bodied fish like sockeye salmon and tuna, any dish featuring Mousseline sauce, or an old-school classic like Lobster Thermidor.

The Winery: In the mid-nineties, in an effort to produce a super-premium wine, the winemaking team of Catena began an in-depth investigation into the yields from specially selected, high altitude vineyards, identifying the individual rows that produce the best fruit. Catena Alta is an assemblage of these historic rows within the Catena family’s estate vineyards. The blend of these rows, like the blend of musical notes that compose a symphony, creates a wine that is layered and complex, concentrated yet nuanced. The Catena Alta Chardonnay is produced from two of the Catena family vineyards – the Adrianna Vineyard at almost 5,000 feet elevation and the Domingo Vineyard at 3,700 feet elevation. The Adrianna Vineyard’s calcareous soils and cool climate are ideal for growing Chardonnay. The fruit from Adrianna has a purity of flavors and a minerality that is particular to this vineyard and cannot be found anywhere else in Mendoza. Nearby, the gravel-covered, loamy soils of the Domingo Vineyard produce grapes that contribute white peach and citrus notes to the wine. This Chardonnay is 100% barrel fermented in French oak with a little more than two-thirds of the wine undergoing malolactic fermentation.

Read more at: http://www.catenawines.com/index.php

 2011 Felino Viña Cobos – Merlot – Mendoza

The Wine:  “In this vintage, our merlot expresses great typicality.  We can enjoy a precious ruby color. On the nose we find massive red fruit, plums and licorice complemented by spicy notes, refined minerality and a delicate floral touch making it very elegant. On the palate, we enjoy a sweet sensation with soft, polished tannins. This is a gorgeous wine with a persistent finish”.

The Winery:  The Andes Mountains create an arid climate and provide irrigation water.  Due to the low precipitation in the area, irrigation management becomes a determining factor for production possibilities. The main source of water to irrigate the vineyards is snow-melt water, used for surface or pressurized irrigation.  Underground water is also accessed by deep water-wells.  Water supply is strictly controlled by government entities.

Cold weather during winter month benefits the dormant stage of the vine. In summer, the wide change in temperature from day to night favors optimum ripening conditions and excellent qualitative characteristics for the grape clusters.

Soils are of alluvial origin (alluvial/colluvial origin), poor in organic matter and with high heterogeneity. The soils closer to the Andes Mountains show higher heterogeneity and larger-size stones compared to those in more distant areas in the east. From an edaphological approach, it can be said that the soils are young, and poor. Soils are loam to clay-loam, with minerals such as calcareous stones.

Finally, the agricultural footprint was laid by the areas first settlers, who designed the irrigation systems that made agriculture possible.  Later, the Spanish colonizers, who brought the first vines to the Americas, expanded upon the original framework. Together with the cultural influence from the waves of European immigrants, arriving to Argentina in the late 19th century and early 20th century, are invaluable contributors that outline the current scenario of this current industry and allow us to understand the “terroir” in its true potential.  European immigrants not only brought new vine varieties suitable for producing quality wines, but also cultivation techniques and a deep love for the terroir and for wine.

Read more at: http://www.vinacobos.com/en

 2014 Paisaje de Barrancas- Flichman-Syrah -Mendoza

The Wine: This blend of Syrah, Malbec, and Cabernet Sauvignon from Argentina is heavy duty to say the least! The nose is dominated by intense oak aromas of toasted caramel, vanilla, and spice. The palate is smooth and lush providing flavors of dark fruit and cassis alongside big tannins.

Varietal Blend: 60 Syrah, 30 Malbec, 10 Cabernet Sauvignon
Aging: 12 months in 50 percent American and 50 percent French oak barrels, then another 6 months in bottle before release

The Winery: Finca Flichman is a well-recognized Argentine wine-producer due to record quality and innovation. It was first established in 1873 in Barrancas, Maipu by Sami Flichman, a Jewish immigrant of Polish origen. He was a visionary pioneer, who planted vineyards on the dry and rocky bed of the Mendoza river. In 1910 the family business was given the name Finca Flichman. Finca Flichman has managed to create quality wines with unique personalities on a large scale.

Read more at:

 2013 Big Bat Gran Cabernet – Mascota Vineyards – Mendoza

The Wine: Cherry and cassis aromas are dark and clean, with more than adequate ripeness. This Cab feels a bit edgy and abrasive, but not scratchy. Oaky, resiny flavors of berry fruits and plum finish spicy, with crisp acidity and tannins that poke and prod. Drink through 2021.

The Winery: The vineyards lie at the foot of the Andes Mountains, barely a thousand meters away from the Mendoza River. The vines receive fresh breezes descending from the mountains and blowing along the river, all of which contributes to the generation of wide temperature ranges. The soil is predominantly alluvial, with a clay-loam surface, and rock is found at a depth of 60 cm (23.4 in). And so it is that Finca La Mascota finds itself set in perfect surroundings, and one the most renowned and prestigious wine-growing regions in Mendoza.

The vineyards cover 100 hectares of land, 97 of which are planted with grapes. The main varieties produced are Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Shiraz among the reds; and Chardonnay among the whites. The oldest wine is a Cabernet Sauvignon lot which was planted 41 years ago. The average age of the vineyards is 30 years, ranging from the 5 year-old new blocks to the oldest ones planted in the 70’s.

Read more at: http://www.mascotavineyards.com/en/origins/

4.  CV Members Rating

Participants ranking, average scores and wine prices:

  1.  2013 Big Bat Gran Cabernet – Mascota Vineyards – Mendoza
    Members Score:  90   Pts.                                                                                                                  Experts Score :    JS, 94 Pts.                                                                                                             $50
  2. 2014 Catena Alta – Chardonnay – Catena Zapata
     Members Score:  89 Pts.                                                                                                                  Experts Score :     JS, 94 Pts.                                                                                                           $33
  3. 2011 Felino Viña Cobos – Merlot – Mendoza
    Members Score: 89 Pts.                                                                                                                  Experts Score :    ST, 87 Pts.                                                                                                             $18
  4. 2014 Paisaje de Barrancas- Flichman-Syrah -Mendoza
    Members Score:  89 Pts.                                                                                                                  Experts Score :    NA                                                                                                                       $20

Best value for Money: 2011 Felino Viña Cobos – Merlot – Mendoza

See full evaluation here: ArgentinaWines5-22-17Summary

5. Technical Notes 

Jairo Sanchez compiled this note on the Argentine wines  Argentinian Wine

There is further reading specifically on the New Argentina wines here: http://www.foodandwine.com/articles/a-lesson-in-new-argentinean-wines



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