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80 Argentine wines 2016

These notes accompany our in-depth feature Argentina 2016 – Andes Elite


Doña Paula

Doña Paula’s wines are imported into the UK by Costco and Hallgarten Druit

(2016) From Gualtallary, this spends 6 to 8 months in barrels. Melon and citrus, a touch of something perfumed and floral, a touch of oatmeally richness too. Lots of limey fruit, a burgeoning hint of more tropical, peach and nectarine, and then a very nice acidity, the merest hint of minerality against the apple and citrus.
(2016) From the Alluvia Vineyard in the Uco Valley and a very late harvest, but fermented to dryness. Nice waxiness and bold apple fruit, a streaking lime on the palate, with lovely Clare-style crispness, but a fuller texture. Not in UK at present.
(2016) Nice hint of softness to the colour and the rim. A touch of gravy browning, but there’s a pleasing floral cherry and violet lift to this too. A hint of briar adds Pinot complexity. The palate has a lovely rich red fruit juiciness but also spice and warmth earthiness, the finish of fruit and spice. No UK retail at present.
(2016) Ten months in 2nd and 3rd year French oak. Fruit from Uco. Nice creaminess and spicy black fruit plushness, but there is a little hint of floral character too. Suave, polished and creamy on the palate, with a coffeeish depth, and very nicely creamy tannins and acidity.
(2016) From their oldest vineyard in the south of Lucan de Cuyo. Fine smoky character from ageing in old barrels for 10 months gives savouriness and spice, but the fleshy black plum and blackcurrant is delicious. The palate has richness of black fruit, good acidity. A lovely Cabernet.
(2016) All French oak, but none of it new. El Alto vineyard fruit: 60% Malbec, 37% Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot 3%. Real peppery and herbal lift to this, a blue black fruit with fine violetty lift, the oak creamy but quite supple. The palate it plush and velvety, with lots of red and glossy black fruit intermingling, and a spicy finish with enough grippy tannin.
(2016) Winemaker Marcos sees this as their ‘icon’ or flagship wine, although the Parcel series is priced a little higher. 100% Malbec from the same three vineyards of the Parcel series, but from patches with less calcium carbonate. Two years in barrel, 50% new, then another two years in bottle before release. Liquorice, herbs and florals on the nose, loads of red berry fruit and a little schist dark fruit beneath. The palate is super plush and sweet, flooded with black fruit, but the edge of acidity and the grain of the tannins roughens things up very nicely, giving this savouriness and not just ‘fruit bomb’ style.
(2016) From the southerly Los Indios vineyard in Uco at 1100 metres altitude, this is 60% Malbec, 30% Cabernetnet Sauvignon and 10% Syrah that is aged 12 months in new French oak. The Cab adds a lot of black fruit cassis depth, but then so does the gentle char and chocolate of the oak. The palate has a lovely fresh acidity, real spark of cherry skin grip and energy. This does not appear to be available in UK retail.
(2016) From Gualtallary in Uco at 1350 metres, 50% Cabernet Franc, 45% Malbec, 5% Casavecchia. 12 months in new oak. Just the merest hint of menthol or olive, but it is plush again, and has a little herby note against the chocolate plushness. A delightful raciness of the red fruit skin acidity against dry, chocolate tannins, and the sweet fruit persisting. A very nice wine again. A little more meat and tannin than the 1100.
(2016) From the Los Indios vineyard in Uco just 2000 bottles are produced. This wine is fermented in oak after a careful fruit selection, and aged 16 months in new French oak. It has a meatiness and plummy richness, plenty of spicy and creamy polished oak. There is a little lift, a little dark violet hint, but in truth I miss the little extra light and shade of the 1100 or 1350. The palate is chewy and rich, a lot of fruit, a fair amount of oak, and it has great length. Deep, sinewy, but perhaps could use just a little more light and shade. The 2010 is in the UK at time of writing.
(2016) A warm vintage, and from an old block with an average of around 30 years. Big black olive savouriness to this, a touch of meatiness and herbs. The palate has a dry and savoury character too, a great density of blue black fruit, almost blueberry like, dusty and powerful tannins, this is a big wine but has lovely concentration and balance.
(2016) Two years in barrel, partially from bush vines. Has real singing violet and ripe plum and black cherry. There is a smoothing layer of creamy and chocolaty spicy oak, but the full creamy fruit drives this. There's a meaty umami character on the palate, an earthy mineral style, plummy and darkly fleshy, with great acidity and ripe, plummy tannins.

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Catena Zapata

Catena Zapata’s wines are imported into the UK by Bibendum

(2016) This cuvee sees partial malolactic, very low sulphur, and 95% is fermented and aged in barrel. From very rocky soils on limestone at 1450 metres. The nose has a melon and orange peel, a gently nutty oak, interesting herbal, almost camomile notes. The palate is riven with a mineral acidity, real saltiness and elegant,mouth-watering finish. At time of wrtiting the 2013 has still to arrive in the UK.
(2016) Fine, tight minerality with lots of flint and gunflint. Terrific palate too, perhaps not quite the bracing salty freshness of the younger vintage of this wine, but so deliciously focused.
(2016) From a limestone soil. Seems to have a touch more oak than the 'stones', a bit of flint here too, a much more apple and nut profile, citrus too. The palate again has a hugely streaking minerality and saline finish, with such a thrust of juicy and pithy citrus. Delicious, again that mouth-watering style, a little extra flinty aromatic, a little extra juicy depth.
(2016) This has a touch more weight than the White Stones, but a similar integration of all those mineral and crisp fruit elements on the palate, and very good length.
(2016) Fermented in open top barrels, whole cluster, partial carbonic. Time in barrels (60% new) then into foudres. River soils of sediment and river stones. Delightful violet lift, really has those top notes that are beguiling over ripe, but not heavy red and black fruits, a little schist or earthy edge. Fantastic mouth-feel, of lighter tannins, that raciness of red fruit and cherry tartness. Dry, and racy, with an ashy dry quality and retaining that juicy, fresh acid edge of acidity.
(2016) A deeper soil. Slightly meatier than the River Stones, but still has that violet lift, and some herbal notes. Cedar and graphite too. Richer and fuller, with a gorgeous fleshiness to the fruit and, plum and that dry flesh and skin of the plum, dry and earthy, so much sweetness but butteressed by the acidity and tannin, and the gentle polish of the oak.
(2016) From Calcium Carbonate (limestone) plots, and a blend of 60 different components, only 300 cases are made. The wild yeast earthiness and raciness is there immediately, intriguing with its meaty and umami aromas flavours, but intense black fruit too and then such great orangy acidity, real pronounced acidity that propels this powerful and delicious wine.
(2016) A blend of 70% Cabernet and 30% Malbec. A delightful ripeness of cassis and black cherry, sweet juicy black plum flesh adding to the fruit forward, hedonistic appeal. The cedar and the chocolate add depth and layers, spicy and super concentrated. Fantastic palate, the gloss and purity are marvellous, so long and pure, the oak and the spice subsumed by the fruit purity.
(2016) What a treat when Nicolas Catena said he had a surprise especially for me (my original review of this, the first vintage of this wine, hangs on the wall of the cellar). A blend of 95% Caberent Sauvigon and 5% Malbec from the Agrelo vineyard it has the perfect Cabernet nose, a touch of green, a touch of graphite and spice, and fabulous raciness. Creamy and richly ripe still, with sweet fruit, but such superb structure, hinting at bloodiness and meatiness. A fabulous wine, though of course not now available in retail.

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Achaval-Ferrer

Achaval-Ferrer’s wines are imported into the UK by Corney & Barrow

(2016) Beautiful, quite high tones, with plenty of raspberry and definite floral aspects – rose and violet. 10 months in second use barrel. A delightful spicy red fruit, raspberry ripple but then the tight tannins and juicy acidity give it real grip and structure too, a lovely combination.
(2016) Fine, light earth and smoky schist, with a lovely buoyant fruit character, again the 2nd use barrel for 10 months, and then a very rippling, ripe fruit palate, with great balance and tight black fruit acid freshness. Has some of the sour cherry and citrus in the finish. Not listed in the UK at time of review.
(2016) A blend of 50% Malbec, 28% Cabernet Franc, 22% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% petit Verdot aged in 80% new French oak. Lovely peppery quality to this, savoury character, with olive and dried Chinese plums, with small herb and flower notes. The palate is savoury too, a sour cherry and plum gastromic feel, the spice of the fruit and barrel just smooths the finish.
(2016) Very much red fruit driven, with a lot of sweet, ripe creamy fruit coming through. Very elegant, with a little chocolate but also some smokiness and some polished wood or briar. Bella Vista has great juiciness, with loads of fleshy plum and blackcurrant, the spices and the very dry tannins again suggesting this needs time: a big, chalky dry finish that will become silkier with time.
(2016) From limestone soils at la Consulta in the Uco Valley. Subtle grilled meat and blood character, with a real minerality, tight fruit is fine and ripe, but that chalky mineral dryness. The palate has a gentle raspberry touch to dark, ripe, rippling fruit. The palate has huge substance too: a weight of tannin that is chocolate supple, spices and a mineral earthiness, all that sits below the fruit, with a long, powerful finish that suggests it needs time.
(2016) From Medrano and an 85-year-old vineyard this is made in small 160-litre barrels that means a little more micro-oxygenation. 14 months in barrel. Beautiful lift and raspberry freshness, lots of high floral character that is super attractive. Fabulous character on the palate, tight fruit and chocolate, a real damson plum bittersweetness and great concentration without too much weight.
(2016) I feel a bit bad for loving this wine so much, as it is sold only at the winery: it's an equal parts blend of the three Fincas, Mirador, Bella Vista and Altamira, blended as the others are bottled and given four extra months in barrel to homogenise. The idea is to make a blend not just of Malbec, but of terroir. Lovely creamy black fruited elegance. A touch of charred meat, a little floral note too. Meaty, rich and shows all those qualities from sweet black fruit to spice, to meatiness. It is so hard to separate these single Fincas and this wine, but I love the completeness of Temporis.
(2016) Juicy, ripe and youthful, with chocolate overtones and that lovely sour plum fruitiness, a great elegance to the acidity, and lovely length again. Has the juiciness and fabulous balance, a real old world elegance to this with the fruit just notched into a ripe and juicier spectrum.
(2016) Meaty, coffee tones, the lift of violet coming through. The plum skins and the bite of meaty umami aroma and flavour, with the palate meaty too, a chewy smoky, meats and lovely orange acidity, this has great fireworks, such amazing plum ripeness, edge salty minerality, delicious length.

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Pulenta Estate

Pulenta Estate’s wines are imported into the UK by Berry Bros. & Rudd

(2016) Very nice aromatics, with a ripe topicality, ogen melon and white peach, lovely acidity and a peachy but crisp finish.
(2016) A greengage note to the wine, quite leesy with a pithy dryness and blast of grapefruit and lime. A textured Pinot Gris with a bit of grip and presence.
(2016) Soft sheen of oatmeal and nuttiness. A lot of apple and citrus, with a nice hint of saltiness and minerals adding to the fresh finish. The 2014 is £10.99 from AG Wines at time of writing.
(2016) Real violet and kirsch lift. A fine, elegant fruit, a strawberry sweetness but lovely bite of plum and cherry, taut with its tight tannins and cherry skin acidity, smoothed by some of that creamy, chocolaty depth.
(2016) Adds more creaminess and high violet character over the estate Cab Sauvignon. More plushness with ripe red and black berries and gently toasty oak. Exotic incense note, a liquorice twist of bittersweetness, almost a Campari-like bite but creamy-smooth finish. At time of writing the 2012 is £14.99 from Invinity Wines.
(2016) Cedar and a touch of tobacco or truffle. There is a hint of lively Cabernet olive, then soft black fruit meets a hit of structure. A wine with plenty of acid punch to match the fruit.
(2016) Masses of beautiful quality oak, extremely fine but creamy and refined with toast and a touch of incense. The fruit is cedary and has some herb and floral lift. The palate is bold and creamy, flooded with ripe rippling fruit and velvety oak and tannins. Big but bonny. The 2011 is in Divine Fine Wine at time of review, for £21.95
(2016) Beautiful aromatics, so expressive with pepper and olive, the balsamic note and gentle sandalwood character against super smooth and ripe fruit, deep and hedonistic, with massive juiciness as well as the swirling, deep pool of cassis and fleshy plum. Lovely, long spice and fruit finish. The 2011 is in AG Wines at time of writing for £21.99
(2016) A more cool and elegant nose than the Gran Cabernet Franc arguably, but there's a meatiness and that cedary touch, and still light and shade. Pure and sophisticated palate, the sheer depth of fruit is great, but this has a little more edge of charriness and acidity, long and focused. At time of writing the 2011 is in AG Wines at £22.99.

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Terrazes

Terrazes and Cheval des Andes are imported into the UK by LVMH

(2016) From Gualtallary in the Uco Valley. Quite a deep green to gold colour after 12 months in barrel. Extremely nutty and toasty, with loads of peachy ripeness. The calcareous soil gives lots of saline character on the palate, with lemon rind and apple, and a steely touch to the finish. Lovely in the end.
(2016) Pure, high perfume, lots of flowers, and almost jasmine like fragrance, with fresh citrus and fresh, crunchy apple. The palate is bone dry, with a sweeping citrus juiciness but lemon rind and pith too, giving those dry, very fresh characters, then it turns quite grippy, a bit of phenolic grip, though still juicy and tangy.
(2016) Very nice lifted aromas, certainly showing plenty of the fruit and herby/floral character, plenty of fat black fruit, that comes through to the palate with a depth of fruit sweetness and gloss, the palate a little bit of weight and juiciness, a touch harsh just in the finish, the tannins and acid a little grainy, but a wine that needs a little time perhaps.
(2016) So much chocolate and cream here, with very dark, spicy and peppery fruit, a little meatiness too. The palate has that creaminess of texture and flavour, lots of plushness – perhaps a touch too much – giving this massive creamy presence and depth, a big sour plum squirt of acidity does offset and leave it dry and savoury along with the spicy tannins. At time of writing the 2010 is on sale for around £35.00
(2016) A touch dusty and gravelly, with tight black fruit. Dry and savoury palate, a black olive dryness and savouriness, with really mouth-coating, dry tannins. Feels as though it needs some time, as those dusty, grippy tannins dominate the finish.
(2016) A little bit of mint and chocolate adding to the plush black fruit, a little riper than the 2012 Reserva, very composed and smooth. The palate has a rich black plum flesh palate, nice tight, thick-skinned blackcurrants and blueberries, a creamy oak polish and very svelte tannins. Still grippy, but well-balanced. Majestic currently lists the 2008 vintage at £40.00.
(2016) I am not sure if it was the sheer unexpected pleasure of finding a Petit Manseng in Mendoza, but I did love this with its wonderful nose of orange marmalade and vanilla, a touch of buttered toast and then creamy orchard fruits and gentle flowers. With 91g/l sugar there's luscious orange and a hint of nectarine, but a great fresh finish of lemon balm acidity. Not in UK at present, by the half bottle.

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Cheval des Andes

(2016) A blend of 69% Malbec, with 21% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Petit Verdot. Quite a herbaceous and decidedly cedary character, with some animal notes and that briary, leafy quality persisting. The palate becomes much plusher and more juicy, some chocolate and a really pure blue/black fruit. Lovely acid balance, very creamy tannins and some spice, but it is sophisticated stuff indeed.
(2016) Malbec 66%, Cabernet Sauvignon 26%, Petit Verdot 8%. Much purer and freshner nose than the 2011, with graphite and cherry notes, a light ash quality to the ripe black fruits. A nice lift here that seems purer than the 2011. The palate has a similarly plush character, with a roughening edge of tannin, but the lovely fruit balance and the acidity is fine. This has a real liquorice or endive edge and needs time, but lovely elegant and powerful ftuff.
(2016) Malbec 66%, Cabernet Sauvignon 26%, Petit Verdot 8%. A cool, sophisticated nose, with some light earthy and ashy cherry freshness, a light and floral feel to this, with the palate tight and though ripe, with plenty of juiciness to the fruit. It has edge and alacrity, that bittersweet note in the finish again, giving this energy and length. Lovely, the fruit is there, but floating over the structure.

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Dominio del Plata

Dominio del Plata’s wines are imported into the UK by Las Bodegas

(2016) Torrontes, Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc fermented in concrete 'egg' with wild yeasts before ageing four months with batonnage. The lychee and perfumed floral notes of the Torrontes is powerful, but there’s a flinty character too that is very attractive, with the palate showing delightful fruit intensity and a huge blast of grapefruit. Delicious acidity and intensity, long and shimmering salty acidity. Not in UK at time of writing.
(2016) Plenty of barrel component, but also a delicious flintiness, the commplex reductive notes so appealing, and the creaminess is there on the palate with a lovely acid ripeness. The 2014 is in the UK at £15.95 at time of writing.
(2016) With 5% Petit Verdot in the blend, 13 months in French oak, 30% new and 70% second use. From Altamira vineyards in the Uco Valley. Gorgeous nose, peppery and fresh, a nice floral/herbal lift. Delicious and racy element to the palate, a rich black fruit intenstity, touch of meatiness, but really the fresh fruit drives this. Cherry and almost plump, fresh Agen prune.
(2016) Eleven months in French oak, second use barrels, fruit from Gualtallary. Ripe, cassis and blackcurrant jam nose, but not confected, it has a polish and a freshness, with a smoothing layer of creamy oak melding with the black fruit, lots of spice, but it is all about the juicy plum flesh ripeness. Delicious and long with meaty but ripe tannins and good acidity. Not in UK at time of writing.
(2016) Fifteen months in 100% new French oak, from Agrelo. The blend is 45% Caberenet Sauvignon, 25% Malbec, 25% Caberent franc, 5% petit Verdot. Black, ripe, cassis and black plum, with cedar coming through, the oak polished, and there is an elegance to the character on the palate too. The palate is really smooth, but fresh and smooth, with great spicy tannins and lovely dry extract. The Wine Society lists the 2011 at £21.00 at time of writing.
(2016) A smokiness and meatiness, dry and savoury. The black fruit is inky and dense, lovely ripeness. So much pepper and spice and liquorice density and bittersweetness in a profound and concentrated expression of Malbec, though I would have asked for a little more light and shade.

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Altos Las Hormigas

Altos Las Hormigas’s wines are imported into the UK by Liberty Wines

(2016) Grapes are harvested by hand from a blend of high density vineyards located in the sub region of Vista Flores as well as two areas in Tupungato. These are gravelly, alluvial soils with abundant stones, but with limited active limestone presence. A certain meatiness, but a delicate oak note and very good raciness. The palate still has bold, deep plum fruit, but the edge of the cedar and spice, and the creamy texture, delicious and well balanced wine.
(2016) Hand-picked from 100% calcareous soil of Uco Valley, limestone over alluvial stones. The terraces contain pebbles and boulders covered with the calcium carbonate paste of around 7-10% active lime. A little gravy and earthy minerality, with a sweet plummy fruit but has the tartness of plum and black cherry skins, and a real grip of the limestone acidity. Price quoted for the 2013 vintage.
(2016) From the alluvial terrace of Altamira, lying at 1,200 meters above sea level. There, limestones covered pebbles and gravels occupy 85% of the soil volume, 3% of clay in the fine matrix. A very smooth, composed nose, with refinement and a smooth elegance. The palate has a lovely fruit sweetness, and again that little lift of limestone acidity and raciness, the tannins are dry, dusty and grippy, so a wine that needs time, but lovely complexity and generous balance.
(2016) From loamy soils lying at 1,300 meters above sea level. There, limestones covered pebbles and gravels occupy 50-60% of the soil volume, with a high percentage of free calcium carbonate in the profile. Very fresh and juicy, almost carbonic maceration cherry bubblegum edges of brightness. Such an edge of racy, almost hearbal and leafy brighteness. A little oxtail note and then such freshness, a bright grip of tannin and acidity. Striking, savoury stuff. Price quoted is for 2013 vintage.

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Chakana

Chakana’s wines are imported into the UK by Fells. Note that from the next vintage the Estate range will be branded ‘Nuna’ in the UK.

(2016) 40% Chardonnay, 40% Sauvignon Blanc, 20% Viognier grown at 960 metres in Agrelo. Organic certified, it comes from loam with calcium carbonate gravels and is unoaked Nd fermented with natural yeasts. A Viognier perfume, with peach and ripe pear, a tropical sub-text and very gentle mealy character. The palate has lovely sweet peach and a realy delicacy and freshness. Pretty, with delicate peach down and a nice hint of salinity to the lime finish. Price quoted for 2014 vintage.
(2016) From vineyards in Altamira, Uco, at 1100 metres,fermented partly in concrete 'eggs' and in stainless steel. Organic certified, the soils are sandy loam over calcium carbonate from. Delightful nose, gently nutty and toasty, but the fruit comes through, nutty apple and pure white fruit. The palate has medium body and a long, saline finish.
(2016) This was a tank sample, so the score is provisional. From Agrelo in Lujan de Cuyo at 960 metres altitude and organic certified vineyards. Fine liquoricy, cherry and red plum fresh nose. There’s a lot of palate freshness too, a touch of mineral saltiness, and definitely racy.
(2016) From Altamira in the Valle de Uco at 1100 metres, this is organic, though some non organic fruit was bought in for this vintage. Hugely fruity and ripe compared to the Estate wine aromatically, with more cassis and plum, a touch of violet and a layer of chocolate. Creamy and sweet on the palate too, with silky tannins, juicy acidity and a long, much more harmonious finish. Price quoted is for the 2013 vintage.
(2016) 70% Malbec, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc a blend of Gualtallary and Valle de Uco fruit from sandy loam over calcium carbonate coated gravels, aged in French oak for 10 months. A little dusty raciness, with cool black fruit and a little peppery spice, with a palate of sweet black fruit, tighter and more lean and racy than the Estate Malbec, finishing with spice and fresh acidity. Price quoted for the 2013 vintage.
(2016) 100% Malbec from Altamira in the Valle de Uco, organic from vineyards undergoing certification. Deeply scented, earthy and a touch closed at this stage, the sweet plum and hint of violet is there, but at the moment cloaked in dark spice and polished oak. The sweet fruit of the Malbec finishes with a dusty, gravel and tannin freshness and savoury quality, the spice and the acidity in this is beautifully balanced.

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