Tasting the wines of Argentina 2008

These notes accompany a massive report from Argentina. For profiles of all of these estates please see Regional report: Argentina: 40 estates and 360 wines.


Bodegas Salentein

white wines

Salentein Callia Alta Pinot Grigio 2007
Very fresh, appealing apple fruit with crisp lemon notes and a n9ce texture and mouthfeel. Good lime acidity, very clean with good fruit sweetness. £4.99. 86/100

Salentein Calia Magna Viognier 2006
Big leesy nose, with honeysuckle richness. Broad, plush mouthfeel, with more of the apricot and peach fruit, but very good acidity. £6.99. 87/100

Finca el Portillo Sauvignon Blanc 2007
Very fresh, young, with a slightly tanky pear-drop note, but then good varietal character with gooseberry and passionfruit and a touch of asparagus. Nice bright, sweet fruit, verging on the tropical, with fine texture and plenty of lemon pith acidity. Nice wine. £5.99. 86/100

Salentein Winemaker’s Selection 2007
50/50 Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay blend, barrel fermented but not aged. Quite nutty and herbal, with almond and some green fig, with a touch of green bean. Palate is quite full, with chardonnay character coming through strongly and a nice, powerful intensity. £7.49. 87/100

Salentein Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2006
100% barrel ferment Sauvignon Blanc in older barrels. A juicy, luscious quality comes through, with vegetal and green fig notes, and a melon character. Palate is quite firm and structured, with tannin adding grip and plenty of lemon pith acidity giving a savoury, chewy character. 88/100

Finca el Portillo Chardonnay 2007
Very clean apple and pear fruit, a touch of nuttiness. More exotic mango and papaya notes come through, but the palate is juicy and savoury with plenty of juicy, mouth-watering fruit and racy acidity. 88//100

red wines

Callia Alta Shiraz 2006
Nice bright raspberry fruit with a touch of pepper. Refined, plush mouthfeel, but with some elegance and a nice edge of tannin and pepper and good acidity. A very similar wine is sold as Tesco Finest Shiraz at £5.49. 87/100

Callia Magna Shiraz 2006
There’s a touch more earthiness and smokiness on the nose, with meatier notes, the palate has a slightly awkward character, and although the fruit is juicy and fresh, there’s a slightly high acidity perhaps. 86/100

Grand Callia 2005
40% Shiraz, 20% Malbec, 20% Merlot and 20% Tannat. 18 months in half and half French and American oak. Lots of oak here, lots of spice. A slightly dusty note. There’s a powerful backbone of acidity and very tight tannin that gives this a stripe of liquorice. £13.99 . 90/100

Salentein Primus Pinot Noir 2005
Open ferment in the large wooden casks of whole berries (de-stemmed). 100% San Pablo fruit. Seductive, earth and truffle Pinot, with rich berry fruit and plenty of spice. Not in market yet, but would sell at circa. £16. 89/100

Salentein Primus Pinot Noir 2004
Plenty of fruit sweetness, with an earthy, toasty oak overlay, but really quite delicate fruit. There’s a touch of astringency, and a nice weight and finesse here. Available from Caves de Pyrènes. 88/100

Finca el Portillo Malbec 2007
Nice violet and cherry nose, with plenty of charm and vibrancy, with that lovely floral note persisting and plenty of raciness. But the fruit is really good, flooding across the tongue with just a little touch of coffee in the finish. 89 Gold Medal in Decanter awards. 90/100

Salentein Winemaker’s Selection MCM 2006
40% Malbec, 30% Merlot, 30% Cabernet. Slightly green note, with nine months in older barrels, adding a cedary note too. Palate has freshness, with a bite of cherry and blackcurrant fruit that is quite crisp, though doesn’t have the finesse of a wine like the El Portillo Malbec perhaps. Nice tangy finish, with spices and a bit of cut from tannins and acidity. 87/100

Salentein Reserve Malbec 2006
14% in a mix of new and used French oak. Some really solid black fruit, with that black cherry and kirsch quality, and little floral notes, but very solidly fruity and concentrated. Really clean, with plenty of vibrant, slick black fruit and that real tanginess of acidity with tight, controlled tannins. Was due to arrive in UK in Spring 2008, selling for £9.99. 88/100

Salentein Numina 2004
70% Malbec, 30% Merlot, mainly new barrels. Sumptuous, big, sweet nose, with a thick blackberry fruit. Very creamy and rich, with masses of sweet, plump fruit, but again that liquorice and edge of cerise cherry skin acidity. Lovely length in a bigger, more obvious style perhaps. Ultra premium (but below Primus), selling for around £13.99. 89/100

Salentein Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2004
Lovely hint of the vegetal on the nose, with some overripe character, and very expressive blackcurrant fruit. A touch of black olive, but really nice on the nose. Very fine palate, with good balance, with acidity and tight tannins checking savoury black fruit. Very nice. £9.99 Waitrose. 89/100

Salentein Primus Merlot 2003
This has a slightly soapy character, with firm Morello cherry fruit and a liquorice, and a fine, svelte black fruit palate. Lovely length and concentration here in the end. Around £16.99. 89/100

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Clos de los Siete

Clos de los Siete 2006
45% Malbec, 35% Merlot, 10%CS, 10% Syrah. 15% ABV. Fragrant, quite crisp and brightly fruity on the nose with small raspberry and violet nuances, and the creamy and cedary oak in the background. In the mouth plenty of extraction, with real grip from tight, grainy tannins and a real liquorice grip. Good acidity, with plenty of sour cherry. Needs time, but a big, savoury wine. 89/100

Clos de los Siete 2005
50% Malbec, 30% Merlot, 10%CS, 10% Syrah. 15%ABV. Quite a fine, Syrah-like nose, with tight, quite subdued aromatics. The palate has the same, very powerful, very concentrated character, with masses of sour cherry fruit and blackcurrant, a certain meatiness, but the tightness and svelteness of the fruit battles against that liquoricy extraction and plum skin grip. 88/100

Clos de los Siete 2004
50% Malbec, 30% Merlot, 10%CS, 10% Syrah. 15%ABV. Meatier on the nose, with earthy aromas, tight blueberry and cherry fruit. The sweetness of the fruit comes through powerfully, with that inky, tannic extraction adding a phenolic grip. Too extracted and powerful. 86/100

Clos de los Siete 2003
50% Malbec, 30% Merlot, 10%CS, 10% Syrah. 14.5%ABV. More lift on the nose, with some kirsch and cherry, and a lot more finesse it seems. The palate has a nice coffee quality to the oak, with plenty of svelte, juicy fruit. A velvety mid-palate adds to the impression of harmony. Lovely stuff. 89/100

Clos de los Siete 2002
100% new barrels, 40% Malbec, 20% Merlot, 20%CS, 20% Syrah. 14.5%ABV. A nice earthiness here, with a touch of briar and intense, possibly very slightly green fruit. Good quality from three-year-old vines. 88/100

Mariflor

Mariflor Pinot Noir 2006
Big mocha coffee nose, a certain earthy and vegetal quality to the fruit. Massively sweet fruit on the palate, with a great flood of strawberry and ripe, creamy berry fruit. It finishes a little short, with tannins and a sour cheery acidity cutting into the super-sweet fruit quiet abruptly, perhaps missing a little mid-palate texture and weight. 86/100

Mariflor Pinot Noir 2005
Lighter, more briary and truffly nose, with much less of the coffee flavour. Some of the smoky barrel comes through, with rounded berry fruit starting to emerge. The fruit is extremely sweet, and in fact this is slightly more harmonious, though again I feel the tannin and acidity, and perhaps alcohol are rather abrupt, it is a wine showing promise and it has more charm than the 06 at this stage. 88/100

Flechas de los Andes

Flechas de los Andes Grand Malbec 2004
Lovely floral lift, with intense, smooth chocolaty black fruit. This has very nice mouthfeel and presence, with plenty of richness, though perhaps lacks a little freshness and savouriness – certainly a big style of Malbec. 87/100

Flechas de los Andes Grand Corte 2004
Big, powerful, meaty and intense nose, with smoky and fudge-like notes, and plenty of tannin and extraction. A bit leathery, a bit stewed and balsamic. A big, powerhouse wine with masses of concentration, but not my favourite style. 87/100

Cuvelier los Andes

Cuvelier los Andes Collecion 2005
62% Malbec, 20% CS, 7% Merlot, 8% Syrah, 3% Petit Verdot, 60% aged 12 in French oak, second and third fill. Nice smooth nose, with a cedar and savoury note, and quite a Bordeaux-like feel. Sweet fruit and nice balance here, with not too much extraction, and a very balanced, savoury length. 89/100

Cuvelier los Andes Grand Vin 2005
70% Malbec, 10% CS, 7% Merlot, 9% Syrah, 4% Petit Verdot aged 14 months in new and 2nd fill French barriques. Adds an element of purity and precision, with fruit very svelte and composed. Lovely ripe sweetness, with length and a very pure black fruit quality, the balance and length are very good. 90/100

Cuvelier los Andes Grand Malbec 2005
Masses of violet and sweet kirsch and blackcurrant sweetness, with massive blue/black sweetness and ripeness. The sweetness powers through, but this also has massive concentration and grip, with mouth-puckering tannins and lovely fluid, silky mouthfeel and intensity. Long and delicious. Around $43 US. 90/100

Monteviejo

Monteviejo 2005
60% Malbec, 20% Syrah, Cabernet and Merlot. 100% New French oak for 14 months. A little touch of meat stock and gravy, with nice plummy fruit, and a touch of leather and smokiness. On the palate a flood of smooth, sweet fruit, with lots of bright, pert acidity and ripe, fine tannins that are suede-like and supple. 88/100 $25 US

Monteviejo 2004
70% Malbec, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot in new oak for 15 months. Very intense, varietal Malbec nose, with a floral, meaty and violet nose that is very appealing. Mouthfilling sweet fruit, with terrific intensity and plenty of focused, pure fruit sweetness. Nicely balanced and rounded again, with a harmonious, if decisive acidity. 90/100

Lindaflor

Lindaflor 2004
100% Malbec. Vinous nose of black fruit and some bloody, earthy notes. The palate has gorgeous fruit – really fat and luscious, but with layers of flavour and real intensity. A little hot and liquoricy in the finish, but a very nice wine. 89/00

Lindaflor 2003
A very harmonious wine, with a suede-like suppleness on the nose, with rounded, glossy fruit, but has nice little aromatic fireworks of briar, old roses and spice. Palate is integrated and very smooth and powerful. 90/100 $45 – $50

Val de Flores

Val de Flores 2005
From Michel Rolland’s own vineyard of 50-year-old Malbec. Very tight and compelling, with a subdued but complex aromatic of blue/black fruit, with little gamy notes and some floral aspects. The palate has a tight liquoricy quality, with very tight, steely tannins and a certain appealing, lean core with sweetness, but a whole savoury foundation of tannin and elegant acidity. Vine age and natural concentration win through. Not on market until 2009 possibly. 91/100 $50

Val de Flores 2004
Slightly more open and meaty, with a touch of vegetal, cedary quality, but then the black fruit comes through strongly. On the palate lovely sweetness here, with real mouthfilling intensity, a powerful but fine-grained core of tannin and sour cherry acidity, and very nice focus pushing through to the finish. This is very integrated and very together. Harmonious stuff and is the reference point for Malbecs in this project quite obviously. 92/100

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O. Fournier

white wines

O. Fournier B Crux Sauvignon Blanc 2007
Quite intense, tight, mineral and star fruit nose, with some lemon and lime, quite Sancerre. Very nice, ripe and concentrated palate, with excellent natural acidity. 87/100. £9.99 O.

Fournier Centauri (Chile) Sauvignon Blanc 2007
Very intense gooseberry and passionfruit, with a streak of vegetal quality, but all behind the tight structure. Very fine juicy, vibrant. Intense. 87/100

O. Fournier Urban Uco Torrontes 2007
Gorgeous, exotic aromatics with all sorts of waxy, exotic notes. Very fresh, vibrant palate flooded with flavour. Excellent crisp acidity. 88/100

red wines

O. Fournier Urban Uco Tempranillo 2005
Bold, slightly flinty, solid black fruit with a touch of cigar box and plenty of black olive savouriness and a fine a glossy cherry fruit just backed up with a little charry background. Lovely roughening tannins and acidity. 87/100

O. Fournier Urban Uco Malbec 2005
Very glossy, pure black fruit with a touch of black olive and a glossy black fruit intensity. Very pure and savoury with a lovely bite of tannin and very crisp acidity. Lovely varietal expression. 87/100

O. Fournier Urban Maule (Chile) Cabernet Sauvignon 2005
Pleasant, though with a slightly stripped out feel. Not sure if this is quite right.

O. Fournier Spiga (Spain) Red Wine 2003
Ribera del Duero from their 65h/a estate in Spain. Nicely composed with very solid, blackberry fruit. Nice background of gentle toast and coffee, but all very background and finessed. The palate is has a lovely balanced character, with real juiciness, with smooth, refined tannins and a bite of cherry-like acidity. 89/100

O. Fournier B Crux Blend 2004
Lovely nose, with full, ripe cherry fruit and lovely character in the mouth with charry oak and spice but plenty of fat, full, plush and velvety fruit. Very fine indeed. 89/100

O. Fournier Alfa Spiga Tinta del Pais 2003
Wonderful, deep, rich chocolaty nose, with mint and a supple, sued-like character. Lots of fleshy intensity. 92/100. Around £24.

O. Fournier Alfa Crux 2002
60% Tempranillo, 35% Malbec, 5% Merlot. This has a nice animal, savoury edge on the nose, with coffee and earthiness coming through and a touch of tobacco. Lovely acidity and a tight, supple tannin structure. 91/100.

O. Fournier Alfa Crux 2003
50% Tempranillo, 40% Malbec, 10% Merlot. Definitely more youthful and primary, with a big, sweet, solid core of fruit. More bite and more intensity. Lots of chocolate and toast, but the intense, savoury fruit pushes through. 92/100. Around £20

O. Fournier Alfa Crux Malbec 2005
Big, sumptuous, immediately alluring wine with masses of sweet, fat, ripe plum and cherry and a layering of chocolate and very nice quality tobacco oak. The palate has plenty of oak, but that power of fruit is coming through. Massive wine, with a silky finesse and lots of velvet. 93/100

O. Fournier Alfa Crux Malbec 2006
Barrel sample. Very similar, but has a leanness with a long, fresh finish as the acidity and the purity of the fruit is so good. Great potential. 92/100

O. Fournier Alfa Crux 2007
Barrel sample. The fruit on this is gorgeous, with massive, drying tannins and great acidity. This has huge potential too. 100% French barrique after fermentation in oak vats. 93/100

O.Fournier Syrah 2004
200 cases only, produced in exceptional years. Syrah this year, but the blend will change each time the wine is released – next will be 2005, and will be a Syrah/Malbec blend. From a 42-year-old Syrah vineyard in Vista Flores. Big, plush, smoky chocolate-coated plum and blackberry fruit. There is lovely acidity on the palate, with a very refined, ripe tannin structure. Excellent wine. 93/100. In the Gaucho Grill.

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Achával Ferrer

Achával Ferrer Malbec Mendoza 2006
From three of the four estate vineyards, vines for this entry-level wine are harvested at 33 hl/ha, which basically means one vine per bottle. There’s lots of uplifting florality here, with intense blueberry and a lot of elegance. Fresh, crisp, lively fruit floods the palate, never losing that elegance. Fairly straightforward, but very nice quality. 87/100. Around £15.

Achával Ferrer Quimera 2005
Achával Ferrer’s Bordeaux-blend is made from 40% Malbec, 40% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Cabernet Franc aged in all French oak, 40% of which is new. It has a delightful nose, with plenty of freshness, but there was possibly a hint of TCA in this bottle (with no replacement available as I couldn’t visit the winery on this trip, and the wines were brought to me). Has real intensity, but I’m not convinced this bottle was 100% sound. £24

Achával Ferrer Finca Mirador 2005
100% Malbec from the Finca Mirador vineyard in Medrano, which produced 577 cases in 2005. Aged in 100% new French oak, this is nevertheless fresh, racy and vital, with cherry fruit that is very poised with gorgeous ripeness. On the palate that racy, energetic character continues, with some black olive savoury character and racy, crisp raspberry fruit and acidity into a long finish. Lovely, and around £60. 92/100

Achával Ferrer Finca Altamira 2005
There are 669 cases of this old vine Malbec from Finca Altamira in La Consulta in the Uco Valley. It spent 16 months in 100% new French oak. A notch of extra plushness over the Mirador on the nose, but retains that freshness and raciness. Fantastic stuff, with a hint of minerality. Very fine indeed, with a medium-bodied finesse and a raciness. Great length – concentration without extraction. £60. 95/100.

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Navarro Correas

white wines

Navarro Correas Coleccion Privada Chardonnay 2006
30% is barrel aged. Very nice honey and creamy oak, with fine lightly smoky sesame seed and ripe mango and nectarine fruit. The palate has good crisp acidity, and a very clean fruit quality. It is perhaps lacking a touch of flesh on the mid palate, but there is nice clarity to the wine and a balanced finish. 87/100

Navarro Correas Alegoria Cosecha Tardia 2005
Mostly Sauvignon and Semillon, with a delicately nutty, lightly honeyed nose, and little herbal edges. A little dried apricot and fig fruit comes through in a very pretty picture. Very nice lemon drop fruit and a core orangy acidity. Very nice finesse and balance here, in a wine with decent length. 89/100

red wines

Navarro Correas Alegoria Malbec 2004
Very sweet, impressively seductive and deep black fruit wrapped in a cloak of fine, smoky, mocha coffee-tinged oak with a great minty ripeness at its core. Some little notes of earth and exotic spices. On the palate, very nice freshness throughout this wine. Lovely fruit and freshness, with a herbal edge and very nice oak. 89/100

Navarro Correas Structura 2003
Quite tight, schisty quality. A little mineral quality and some dustiness to the fruit. On the palate very nice fruit quality, with a cherry and cassis quality, and plenty of swirling, smoky oak beneath. Good acidity, and becomes quite plump and fleshy in the finish. 90/100

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Antucurá

Antucurá Calvucura 2004
The second wine of the estate, this is 60% Merlot and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon that spends twelve months in new French oak. Very pure, very glossy blackcurrant fruit, with plenty of nicely weighted oak. The palate is smooth and silky, with masses of fat and richness. There is a lot of concentration here, but lots of oak too, and although the charry mocha character is delicious, the whole effect, with highish alcohol, is a little overpowering. £11.99. 88/100

Antucurá 2004
60% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon. Sixteen months in new French oak. Adds a little more meat and game to the profile of similar glossy, deep, muscular fruit and silky, charry oak. It is a very international style that does not play to the Uco valley’s strengths perhaps. A touch of black olive adds a nice suave touch, filling the mouth with mocha and spice and svelte black plum fruit. Spicy and concentrated, and very impressive of its style. £19.99. 91/100

Antucurá 2003
50% Merlot, 50% Cabernet Sauvignon. Also has a savoury, slightly earthy and gamy note that is appealing, with lots of plush plum and blackcurrant fruit. Has softened the oak slightly, but it is still hugely extracted and a touch alcoholic, though once again the quality is excellent and this spicy, deep, polished wine will find many fans. 91/100

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Uco Valley tasting

Finca Sophenia

Finca Synthesis Sauvignon Blanc 2007
Beautifully defined Sauvignon Blanc nose, with real verve and zest, some herbaceous notes, and a burgeoning tropical fruit. Lovely life and verve about this. The palate has a very similar quality, shot through with lime, and with those lychee and mango tropical fruit notes pushing through. Very long and shimmering with life and acidity. The best Argentinian Sauvignon Blanc so far? 91/100 £17-£18.

Finca Sophenia Synthesis The Blend 2005
20 months in French oak, but quite a lot of minerality, with a deep, sinewy cherry nose, and plenty of white pepper and cool climate freshness. The body has a linear, very nicely lean style, with a minerality and a real edge of bittersweetness to the fruit. The tannins are very fine-grained and peppery, and the acidity is extremely fresh. Good length too, in a very classical style. 91/100 £30

Finca Sophenia Synthesis Malbec 2006
There is plenty of minerality here, with again the cleaner, crisper aspect of the fruit accentuated by subtle, supporting French oak giving a touch of Sandalwood perhaps. The palate has a purity too, with plum and cherry, and a touch of something spicy and exotic. Very nice balance here and delineation. 91/100. £17-£18

Benvenuto de la Serna

Mil Piedras Viognier 2007
Very fresh, varietal, lovely twist of lime to fresh, limpid with nice acidity and plenty of forward fruit. 86/100

Benvenuto de la Serna Blend 2005
Malbec 60%, Merlot 40%. Very nice nose, with some dusty cedar and very ripe berry fruit. Lots of richness and flesh. On the palate there is plenty of oak, that’s perhaps a touch drying. Very nice wine. Around £10. 88/100

Don Cristobal 1492

Don Cristobal 1492 Verdelho 2007
Very nice varietal nose, with masses of crunch and sweetness, a touch of mint leaf. Fleshy bit very crisp on the palate, with excellent acidity. Clean, crisp and very good commercial wine. 10,000 cases. £5.99 also in Direct Wines. 87/100

Don Cristobal 1492 Triana 2005
Not yet released, but will retail for around £12 or so. Malbec 50%, syrah 30%, Cabernet Sauvignon 20%. 15 months in all new French oak. Deep, smoky and spicy black cherry and kirsch nose. Very rich, sumptuous fruit, with chocolate and toast, and a broad and deep palate. There’s a slightly soupy quality but very nice fruit and weight. 87/100

Bodega & Viñedos San Polo

San Polo Auka Chardonnay 2007
Auka where the native Argentineans who invented the irrigation channels for the Andes water. Quite clean orchard fruits, with a touch of spangles. Fresh and juicy, though perhaps slightly cloying. 85/100. £5.99

San Polo Auka Malbec 2005
Plenty of red fruit crunch and a rustic style of grippy tannin and acidity. Quite a nice wine for the money, with a bit of oomph. 86/100

San Polo Auka Merlot 2006
Quite a lot of cedary, spicy American oak, with rich berry fruits. Slightly angular, with plenty of savoury fruit and that pleasant rusticity. 85/100

San Polo Auka Syrah 2004
Nice pastille quality to the fruit, with a bold blackberry and cherry crunch. Svelte and smooth, with a bit more juiciness and good acidity here. Nicely rustic. 87/100

Masi

Masi Paso Doble 2006
Malbec 60%, Corvina 35% and 5% only the Corvina is appasimento. 2000 was first vintage, after Masi had experimented in 5 countries. Bright, focused cherry. fruit with a leathery undertone. There is a raisiny quality and a nice kirsch and floral lift. Plenty of life and brightness in the mouth, with bright cherry acidity and a refined brightness. 88/100

Finca Don Carlos

Finca Don Carlos Calathus Chardonnay 2007
Slightly vegetal and herbaceous. Steel fermented and oak-aged. Quite a vivid crunchy apple fruit. Perhaps a touch of sulphur, but has lively fruit and acidity. Costs $15 in the US. 86/100

Finca Don Carlos Calathus Pinot Noir 2005
Subtle spice, some floral notes, not much depth though a minty chocolate notes appears. Lacks a little charm and fruit sweetness perhaps, with a charry mocha note and plenty of spice. Costs $17 in the US. 86/100

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Catena Zapata

white wines

Catena Alamos Chardonnay 2006
9 months in French oak, all fruit from Agrelo and Tupungato. Plenty of toasty, plush, very creamy oak over ripe orchard fruits. Nice fruit on the palate too, with plenty of sweetness and mid-palate weight, though perhaps a little too sweet for my taste with the vanillin oak and spice of the finish. Good acidity and overall balance. 86/100

Catena Chardonnay 2006
Lovely toasty, gently honeyed oak and ripe fruit nose, with some tropicality and some nectarine. On the palate this has real tropicality, with pineapple and mango sweetness to the fruit, but lovely racy acidity that hints at minerality and white fruit, but not losing that honeyed limpidity. 89/100

Catena Alta Chardonnay 2004
Very powerful, but delightful French oak nose with spice, buttery toast and a touch of honey, and a lovely melange of sesame seed and orange oil, and fine, ripe with creamy ripe pear and melon, and lovely citrus acidity. Quite soft and perhaps lacks just a touch of structure, but undeniably delicious and beautifully pitched. 90/100

Catena Alta Chardonnay 2005
Lovely sesame seed and honey nose. Massively sweet fruit. Very good texture and concentration, but the sweetness and a powerful mineral acidity drive through. A big wine, but profound. 91/100 Nicolas Catena Zapata Chardonnay 2006
Beautiful fruit, gorgeous apricot and custard apple aromas, with a beautiful quality of honeyed oak and a streak of pithy lemon and mineral. The mouthfeel is delicious, with all the concentration but also a bright orangy fruit and shimmering acidity. Amazing stuff, 300 cases of which have been bottled and may or may not be commercially released. 94/100

red wines

Catena Alamos Cabernet Sauvignon 2006
Clear, creamy, ripe black fruit with a cherry and little floral edge that’s very pretty. Nice racy edge to the fruit: carries the 9 months in 6rench and American oak very lightly. 86/100

Catena Alamos Malbec 2006
Composed, svelte, rounded but dense black fruit. Nice littler edge of gaminess and some small glimpses of floral notes. On the palate crisp, structured and well defined, with a raciness to the fruit and a fine, supple tannin and acid structure cutting through spice and good black fruit. 87/100

Catena Alamos Bonarda 2006
Some herbal notes and some crisp berry fruit, with a fresh, but earthy character. Palate is creamy and rich, with good flesh and that nice herbal character adding a layer of intrigue to a fruity, earthy finish. 87/100

Catena Alamos Seleccion Pinot Noir 2006
Quite a sweet, damp earth nose, with a coffeeish influence of French oak adding more warmth and richness. The sweet fruit is mouthfilling on the palate, though it perhaps lacks a touch of flesh in the finish. 86/100

Catena Alamos Seleccion Malbec 2006
10 months in French and American oak, with all fruit from the La Consulta region. Beautifully expressive nose, with some minty cassis and a floral elegance, but also a nice hint of meaty depth. The palate has a lovely creamy texture and velvety black fruit. Nicely crisp, liquoricy edge of tannin and acidity in a very nice wine. 89/100

Catena Cabernet Sauvignon 2004
Ripe, sweet, bold and creamy blackcurrant and Black cherry fruit, with some mint and dark chocolate and a touch of smoky oak. Lovely mouthfilling fruit, with excellent ripeness and flesh on the mid palate, and a lovely freshening acidity. Tannins are gentle, leaving this quite soft, but persistent on the palate. 89/100

Catena Malbec 2005
Comparatively closed, with spice and pepper, and an earthy sweetness, with a nice quality of smoky, sandalwood French oak (though 30% American used). Very nice fruit on palate, with lots of weight an flesh, and delightful crispness to quite full, creamy fruit. Very nicely structured and balanced wine. 90/100

Catena Alta Malbec 2004
Big, creamy blackcurrant nose with an elegant hint of violet and a touch of smoky cedarwood. The palate has wonderful fruit sweetness, but it comes with a big dry, smoky kick of extract, with spices and a blueberry skin quality. Lovely svelteness to this, with silky tannins and texture and a very refined, crisp acidity that just tugs away through the long finish. 92/100.

Catena Alta Malbec 2000
Spice, meat stock and tobacco adding complexity to the pure fruit of the 04. Has a leanness and a stripe of drying grainy tannin. Plenty of acidity and has a slight hollowness perhaps? Is this a phase? 87?/100

Catena Alta Malbec 1995
First ever vintage. Fruit stays very sweet and pure, with a hint of over ripeness. There is tobacco and a touch of casseroled beef. On the palate this is dense and sweet, with a rich blackberry and plum fruit. This has aged extremely well, seeming more harmonious and vital than the 2000. 90/100

Catena Alta Cabernet Sauvignon 2004
Touch of dusty, spicy stalkiness, with some black olive and sweet, damp earth playing against super sweet fruit. Lovely cassis and blackcurrant, a powerful tannin structure, but very svelte and plush tannin, with a generous but good level of acidity and the spice of the oak filling in. 91/100

Catena Alta Cabernet Sauvignon 2003
18 months in new French oak, from three specific vineyards all at or over 1000 metres altitude. Very deep, sensuous and composed, with silky fruit quality of blackcurrant and dense, fleshy plum fruit. On the palate this is full and sweet, with excellent fruit sweetness and depth, and a chocolaty richness to the fruit and tannin integration. Lovely depth here, with spice and richness cut by tangy cherry acidity. 92/100

Nicolas Catena Zapata 2005
From tank but final blend about to be bottled. Beautiful full, sweet black fruit. Exceptionally tight tannins and structure. Very fine length. Tangy and racy, but with sumptuous fruit. Provisionally 94/100

Nicolas Catena Zapata 2004
Very, very refined nose, with a certain dustiness and an espresso coffee bean character. Lovely fruit, with superb structure as svelte, juicy tannins and that haunting, lifted brightness of the fruit intemingle. Long and beautifully balanced. 95/100

Nicolas Catena Zapata 2003
70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Malbec. Beautifully composed nose, with lovely violet and cassis sweetness, a wrapping of mocha, spice and cedar, and plenty of ripe, suave, deep fruit. The palate is silky-textured and terrifically sweet and ripe. The oak is so polished, and the chocolate and spice tannins so supple and well-integrated. Wonderfully focused, pure, and extremely long. 95/100

Catena Malbec Argentino 2005
From tank. Phenomenal fruit sweetness, with a more coffee and chocolate mocha. Real density and fat, flooding across the palate with a huge, pure, black fruit-driven appeal. 95/100

Catena Zapata Adrianna Vineyard Malbec 2004
250 cases of this were made. Beautifully svelte, appealing and glossy fruit, with real creaminess and a lovely cedary elegance to the oak. The velvety weight of the fruit and tannins makes for a very sumptuous mouthfeel, but the cherryish acidity is superbly well balanced adding crispness and juiciness. 94/100. £30 / £35

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Mendel

Mendel Malbec 2006
Bottle for one month. Seductive nose of creamy, very ripe blackberry and plum fruit, with a sheen of Cedary, quite exotic spice and a touch of dark, chocolaty violet. The palate has a beautiful delineation of that pure, intense, compact and powerful fruit, with a wrapping of liquorice and plumskin, such elegant plummy tannins and really taut cherry skin acidity. Fantastic length and focus. 93/100. Around £12.00.

Mendel Malbec 2005
20% of this vintage did not see oak, rest a split of new and second fill. Has a beautifully lifted, cherry and floral note before that blue/black intensity and concentration of fruit and just a touch of briar and spice. Silky, pure, flooded with black fruit and pastille quality. The palate falls away slightly, the tannin and acidity becoming slightly pronounced in the finish, but that lovely purity is there. 90/100

Mendel Malbec 2004
45% tank, 55% new barrel (had no old oak). Slightly more briary and earthy, without quite the fruit svelteness. The palate has a chewy but ripe, black cherry fruit concentration. Very powerful with a thick, liquoricy stripe of tannin and extract. Very powerful, but just lacks the finessing elegance of the 2006, but excellent. 90/100

Mendel Unus 2006
70% Malbec, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon. Always with 100% new Taransud oak. Lovely deep, muscular black fruit with a huge concentration of plummy black fruit and intense Sandalwood spice. A background of coffee. The nose is concentrated and really sumptuous, with a flood of fudge and chocolate-edged black fruit. The tannins are very tight and pure, with a plum skin, bittersweet grip. Very fine balance and succulent but crisp character, the spice and smokiness of the oak adding warmth and depth. 94/100

Mendel Unus 2005
65% Malbec, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon. Toasty and deep, with a very pure cassis note. A touch gamy and earthy. The palate has huge concentration without over extraction, giving a ripe, pure, cassis and black cherry. Very liquoricy but tight and svelte tannins and acids, and a lovely mouthfilling wine that also has freshness and a tangy bite. Very good. 92/100

Mendel Unus 2004
70% Malbec, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon. Slightly more baked quality to the fruit, and not quite the generous, open ripeness and purity of fruit. The palate seems less complex and less deep than the 2005 and 2006 certainly. Tannins also seem a little drier. This is still a really good wine, with length and concentration, and a fine balance. 91/100

Mendel “Super” Malbec 2006
New ultra top end wine, as yet un-named. This is final blend, but a pre-bottling sample. Aged in new Taransud for one year, and then one-third each 200% new oak, second fill and tank for 5 months. Very tight, very floral-edged, with intense kirsch-like aromas supported by mocha and intense spice. The palate is super-concentrated, with fantastic intensity and chocolaty depth. 95/100

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Dominio del Plata

white wines

Susana Balbo Crios Chardonnay 2007
Lovely nose, pitched at melon and creamy apple fruit, with three months in French oak barrels adding a touch of honey and toast. Palate has refined fruit, with a racy lemon and orange acidity. 87/100

Susana Balbo Crios Torrontes 2007
Beautifully sherbetty and refined floral nose, with a streak of something racy and green fruited. The palate has vibrancy and crispness, with some fat and silky texture, but the raciness of the acids and the crunch of the fruit pushes through. 87/100

rosé and red wines

Susana Balbo Crios Malbec Rosé 2007
Sherbetty and bright, with delicate raspberry and floral aromas. Lovely ripe strawberry fruit, with sweet, rich fruit and very fine acidity. Commercial and delicious. Uses a special yeast that converts more of sugar to glycerine rather than alcohol. Still 14%, but could have been nearer 16%. 86/100

Susana Balbo Anubis Malbec 2006
Smooth, smoky, quite silky black fruit. Nice fresh palate, with a slightly baked, but very pleasant black fruit palate and a silky tannin and acid structure with some spice and power. Good value. 85/100. £4.99, Tesco

Susana Balbo Crios Cabernet Sauvignon 2006
5% each of Malbec and Merlot. Nine months in oak, half French, half American. Quite a deep-chested, ripe black fruit nose with a touch of mint chocolate. The palate has freshness again, and though a touch of raisin, the sweet black fruit is very nicely melded with supple tannins and acidity. 87/100

Susana Balbo Crios Malbec 2007
With 13% Bonarda, Nine months in oak, half French, half American. Quite cedary, with a good malbec expression of violetty black fruit. A nice sweet mid-palate, though it is perhaps a touch short and dry in the mid-palate, though Susana Balbo explains this is down to being bottled only two weeks ago and will flesh out. 86/100

Susana Balbo Crios Syrah-Bonarda 2006
A 50/50 blend. Nine months in oak, half French, half American. A very nice, svelte, blue/black quality with some plum and chocolate and a background of peppery spice. Good freshness, with a certain mid-palate plushness. Very nice tannin and oak structure, adding a toasty warmth, with nice acidity. 88/100

Susana Balbo BenMarco Cabernet Sauvignon 2005
With 10% Malbec and 5% Cabernet Franc. 11 months in half new French oak, half second fill American. Slightly stalky character on the nose, with a certain leafiness but good blackcurrant fruit. The palate is smooth and light, with the spice and the toast of the oak rather drying and almost overpowering the fruit though this has length and some elegance too. 88/100 £8.99

Susana Balbo Cabernet Sauvignon 2004
With 10% Malbec and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. 14 months in 80% French oak, plus second fill American. A touch of Brett on this wine, that rather spoils the aromatics. The fruit on the palate is ripe and concentrated, with plenty of juiciness and very silky tannins. Nice freshness, and overall a good wine this though the Brett may bother some. 88/100. £12.99, in M&S

Susana Balbo BenMarco Malbec 2006
With 10% Bonarda. 11 months in half new French oak, half second fill American. Big, deep, charry toast quite plush this wine, with spice and nuttiness, and good red fruit. The palate has good fruit, with a juicy plumpness and plenty of sweet black berries and plum. The plushness and ripeness of tannins is lovely, with a tangy cherry acidity and good length. 89/100

Susana Balbo Malbec 2006
With 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. 13 months in 80% French oak, plus second fill American. More cedary and deep-set fruit than the charryness of the BenMarco 06, with solid black fruit underpinned by some chocolate and plum. The palate is deeply plummy and rich. Excellent mouthfeel and richness, with lovely structure. 91/100

Susana Balbo BenMarco Expressive 2005
55% Malbec, 15% Bonarda and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. 14 months in 70% French oak, plus second fill American. Very fine nose, with very refined fruit. plenty of cedar and spice. Good, rounded, fleshy palate with ripe tannins and fleshy, rounded fruit. Good acid structure and peppery, spicy tannins. 90/100 $45

Susana Balbo Brioso 2005
65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Malbec, 10% Cabernet Franc, 5% each of Petit Verdot and Merlot that spent 16 months in all new French oak. . Very classy, young Bordeaux nose. Gentle cedar and elegant black fruit. Lovely mouthfeel too, with the richness and spice of the very nicely handled oak currently quite prominent over sweet, ripe, essence of blackcurrant fruit, with that plum skin bitterness coming through adding layers. $45. 91/100

Susana Balbo Nosotros 2005
90% Malbec, 5% Petit Verdot, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon spending 18 months in new French oak, but put into new barrels, so 200% new oak. A strict grape selection from Lujan de Cuyo and Tunuyan. Old vines on their own rootstock. Very deep, muscular, deep-chested black fruit depth with a really quite refined cedar and spice oak. The palate is flooded with thick, creamy black fruit and copious coffee and chocolate depth. Very impressive of its style. 92/100. 15.4% alcohol. £50 for the few cases that will come to UK.

Susana Balbo Virtuoso 2005
Late-harvest Malbec, sweetened with a little must, and spending 18 months in new French oak. Deep, creamy, pure black fruit. Lots of stewed prune and plum. Lovely fruit sweetness and a chocolaty ripe depth. Nice stuff with good acidity. 88/100.

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