This vino voyage takes us to Argentina, well, not physically, but at least in mind, spirit, and taste. Five of us who live in the same neighborhood decided we wanted to break out of our comfort zones. It came about because one of us—ahem—seems to bring to dinner the same two wines over and over again. You know who you are. It’s not that we’re being judgy, we just thought it was time to add some new dance moves to our line-up.
For this tasting, our focus was simple. Any Argentinian red wine between $20-30. There was no specific reason for that choice, other than we kinda like wines from Argentina. We were having sliders for dinner. And, no offense, Norton, but we know there’s a bigger, badder world of Argentinian wines out there. This was not intended to be a comparison of the same varietal, vintage, or region. This was a spur-of-the-moment activity. None of us did any significant research and none of us felt emotional over the bottles we brought since we’d never had them before. So, we opted against a blind tasting. We simply wanted to see if we could find a few new faves to add to our cellars.
Despite our amateurish attempts, we ended up with an impressive collection of five bottles, all from the Mendoza region that we found at Total Wine. We rated these bottles between 88-92 points, and we even slipped in a Norton! Below is our listing, based on highest to lowest rating. These all are bold and full bodied with structured tannins so we would recommend any of these for someone looking to open a bottle with any kind of red meat… steak and chimichurri may be the perfect match for a complete Argentinian- themed meal!
Mascota Vineyards Unánime
Gran Vino Tinto
(Cab Sauvignon, Malbec and Cab Franc)
Finca Flichman Dedicado
(Malbec, Cab Sauvignon and Syrah)
Chakana Estate Selection
Alma Negra M Blend
Bodega Norton Privada Mendoza
(Malbec, Merlot, Cab Sauvignon)
It was a Very Good Year
Two well-known winemakers who work in Argentina, Paul Hobbs and Alberto Antonini, say that if you’re going to put a Malbec on the table, make it a 2011. And, blends that include Malbec seem to be a good choice as well, according to our two top choices, the Unanime and Finca.
Location, Location, Location
It is no wonder all of our bottles accidentally heralded from Mendoza since that region produces the majority of wine in Argentina as a result of its ideal combination of climate, soil and infrastructure. According to a 2015 annual report published by the USDA, the provinces of Mendoza and San Juan account for nearly 94 percent of the total area planted in Argentina and 87 percent of the total vineyards in Argentina.
When you Feel Like a Step Child, Keep Calm and Drink a Cab Franc, or Maybe a Bonarda
Here are some other Argentinian wines to consider for your cellar. Cab Franc is gaining ground in Argentina. Until more recently, it has been somewhat like an unknown sibling living in the shadows of the powerhouse Malbec. But it has found its own place in the vineyards and no longer is simply a blending grape. Unfortunately, it may not be an easy feat to track one down but, surprisingly, we found one on the menu at our local Seasons 52 restaurant. It was the 2013 LaMadrid Single Vineyard Reserva. And it was GOOD.
Bonarda, on the other hand, which trails behind Malbec in terms of production, is another varietal to consider. Whole Foods touts it as “Argentina’s Most Intriguing Red Varietal.” I haven’t tried it yet, so I’ll let them be the judge for now.