(2021) 100% Malbec from the Agrelo region of Mendoza, this was matured in French and American oak for 4 months. Bright, dark crimson-purple colour, with a nicely lifted nose, some florals and ripe cherry, a little wisp of smokiness. In the mouth there's a coolness about this, a lithe feeling through the medium body and crunch of the acidity married to smooth and creamy fruit. A bite of liquorice or endive bittersweetness along with pert acidity and fine, linear tannins gives this a bit of bounce and energy on the finish too.
(2021) From 700 metres above sea level in Mendoza, unusually for a red wine this does not go through the softening process of malolactic fermentation and neither is it oaked, so clearly the winemaker was seeking a fresh and crisp style of young red wine. The florals remind me of Beaujolais, lots of cherry and spice beneath. In the mouth it is a real charmer, with loads of sweet red fruit, but a chocolaty and spicy background too, the acid fresh but not aggressive, and the whole picture fruit-forward and easy-drinking, though a bit of tannin just roughens up the finish nicely.
(2021) Cereza is the variety here, coming from a vineyard planted in 1940 on sandy soils, farmed organically and fermented in concrete 'eggs' with natural yeasts. Unusually for a red wine, it does not go through malolactic fermentation. The grape skins are also removed part-way through fermentation to give a very pale, deep rosé colour as much as red, offering herbal and underripe cherry aromas, subtle and earhty, a light undergrowth character too. In the mouth it has that higher acid style that reminds me of some red Vinho Verde made from Vinhao, though mid-palate sweetness of fruit emerges, cherryish again, with a very light finish of negligible tannin and fresh, juicy acidity. Very unusual, and for me very enjoyable if approached with an open mind. Watch the video for more information and use the wine-searcher link for lots of other independent stockists.
(2020) Argentina does Cabernet Franc very well as a rule of thumb, this from two vineyards at 950m and 1,120m elevation, fermented with wild yeasts and spending 12 months in oak barrels. Plush, deep and filled with polished black fruit, there's a tug of earthy spices too, then the wine surges across the palate with sweet-edged blueberry, damson and black cherry, smooth and silky with its oak-polished tannins, and the acidity nicely judged. A serious bottle of wine at its £10 offer price in Tesco unil 2nd january 2021, even better if you buy before the 16th December in England with the 25% off six bottles deal. Could take on roasted fowl, game or beef. Maybe decant this one for an hour before serving just to open it up some more.
(2018) Selected grapes from the Uco Valley in Mendoza are hand-picked from high altitude vineyards for this bottling, which is aged in French oak for 18 months. Though aromatically not a million miles from the standard Malbec in the range, there is an extra ounce or two of concetration evident, a touch of spice and chocolate from the oak and with swirling a lovely violet lift to the aroma. In the mouth the wine is a much more seductive proposition, the creamy sweetness of the ripe black fruit melting into the vanilla and spice of the oak, more refined tannins for sure, and a nicely balanced finish where some pert black cherry acidity pushes through.
(2016) I visited Chakana at the start of this year and was impressed by their organically grown wines. This is Bonarda, quite common in Argentina, from vineyards at 960 metres altitude, and made here with some oak ageing. The nose has bacon fat and smokiness, mellow mulberry and dark plummy fruit, quite gamy and deep but there is a Sandalwood note of lifted fragrance. In the mouth it is full and rich, a nice sweet/sour balance from the fruit and grippy acidity and tannins, the oak adding a little tobacco and cedar layer to the finish.
(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) 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) 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.