August 2006 – Argento, Weinert, Donnhoff, Trapiche

These might be wines that have been reviewed during the month on wine-pages, or have appeared in my newspaper column, or they may be wines from a recent tasting that hasn’t yet been written-up in a full-length report. There is a growing archive of these four of the best choices each month.

under six pounds

Argento (Argentina) Pinot Grigio 2006
It is always fun to drink a wine from the southern hemisphere in the current vintage, when the grapes in Europe and the northern hemisphere haven’t even been harvested yet. And I have to say this is a little cracker from the Catena Zapata stable. 100% Pinot Grigio from vineyards at over 2,000 feet elevation in Mendoza, it is intensely aromatic, with grape skins, ripe peach and nectarine and a floral edge. On the palate it is juicy and very tangy, with a real bite of pear skin acidity and crispness, and an underlying fruitiness that hints at pineapple and tropicality. This wine is dry, with lemon and grapefruit acidity, and balances a rich, quite chewy texture with a bright, sprightly character. Delightful stuff, and very good indeed. £5.50, Bibendum, (2005 in Majestic @ £4.99).

under a tenner

Weinert (Argentina) Malbec 2002
Apparently Robert Parker has said Weinert’s Malbec is reminiscent of a great Cheval Blanc… Aged three years in medium-sized French oak casks, the nose is a ringer for Bordeaux, with refined pencil-shaving and cedar aromas and a svelte blackcurrant fruit quality. There is just an edge of something animal and gamy that is lovely, and a bit of clove-like spice. On the palate this is medium-bodied and has a fresh, juicy character that is quite unlike many of the big, strapping Malbecs in this tasting. The fruit has a lean muscularity, and a herbal-edged, leafy quality that is again quite claret-like. The tannins are refined, and the acidity is crisp and beautifully balanced. This is an extremely classy wine and is indeed a Bordeaux ‘ringer’ at a bargain-basement price. Excellent. £8.55, Tanners.

under twenty

Dönnhoff (Germany) Riesling Oberhäuser Brücke Spätlese 2005
Fruit is the overriding driving force here, with sweet, ripe pear and ripe apple aromas, and a touch of juicy nectarine. There is still that signature undertone of minerality. Beautifully smooth, silky palate, where sweet fruit plays very delicately on the palate – there is such purity and finesse, with an achingly pure, ethereal quality to the fruit. Fabulous balance again, with all the acidity and hints of spice and waxy weight perfectly composed within the overall framework. Stunning. From a very special vineyard close to the river (“Brücke” means bridge) with a microclimate that sees warmer days and cooler nights, from soils which are slaty, but covered with a layer of loam. £98 for six, in bond, Justerini & Brooks.

sky’s the limit

Trapiche (Argentina) Single Vineyard Malbec La Consulta 2003
Whilst Catena’s ‘Alta’ Malbec remains a reference point for this grape’s potential in Argentina, Trapiche’s winemaker Daniel Pi has created three stunning single vineyard Malbec’s to showcase this variety. In this case, the La Consulta vineyard belongs to Signor Felipe Villafañe, whose name is proudly displayed on the label, and who planted his Malbec in 1948. The alluvial, sandy loam vineyard is at an altitude of 1,000 meters near Mendoza. The wine, which spent 18 months in new French oak, comes in quite the most heroic, massive bottle I’ve seen for some time. It’s a bit anal, but I popped it on the kitchen scale whilst full and it weighed just under two kilos; an ‘ordinary’ full bottle weighed 1.25 kilos. The nose offers a melange of caramel, chocolate and spicy notes over very solid, dense plum fruit. On the palate this has a terrific verve and vitality, with the richness and Dundee-cake spiciness married to a keen-edged, brighter raspberry character, and immense concentration. There are tannins by the bucket load, that are firm and grippy, and plenty more chocolate and smoky, toasty caramelised flavours fill in on the peppery and spicy finish. A real mouthful, but that glimpse of a steelier core makes it very structured and drinkable. Excellent/outstanding. £18.45, Noel Young, Hayman Barwell Jones.