(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) Despite the label, this is the Pedro Gimenez (i.e. Argentine) variety and not Spain's PX. Quite a bit of colour on this and a grippy citrus nose, lemon peel and melon skins, there's something herbal or floral in there too that is quite intriguing. The palate has a bold character, both in terms of that intense lemony flavour, and its texture. There's a certain fat on the mid-palate, and a dry, straw-like, lightly-salty savouriness on the finish. No UK retail listing at time of review.
(2021) Firstly, a warning: in my bottle, and every bottle opened by the 12 tasters present, the deep red wine erupted explosively when opened, losing a quarter of the bottle - unfortunately over my oatmeal-coloured carpet. Whilst it may have been an amusing Zoom moment to see me and 11 luminaries including MWs and learned senior colleagues dripping in still fermenting juice, it really is a serious problem that for me makes this wine - based on this experience - impossible to recommend. It is made from Criolla Grande, fermented with natural yeasts under its crown-capped bottle, the Carbon dioxide of in-bottle fermenation captured and the wine sold undisgorged. There's an inky, plummy character, a touch of coal dust on the nose. On the palate there is a firm, bittersweet cherry fruit, some sweetness just to add a softening touch, but it is a relatively high-acid red style, reminding me a little of some sparkling red Vinho Verde made from Vinhão. What a shame there's an obvious defect in how this batch at least, was brought to market. No UK retail listing at time of review.
(2021) This is 90% Pedro Gimenez, with 10% field blend of Gewurztraminer, Semillon and Viognier. The Pedro Gimenez is made in concrete eggs, with wild yeasts, and the field blend component is fermented in French oak barrel, spends two years under flor, and is added as a 'dosage' at bottling. There's a distinct bronze hue to the colour, and a very natural nose, the light yeast and cool earthiness of the wild ferment and flor, a nutty apple fruit character. Tiny hints of more aromatic florals, but way in the background. The palate is deliciously full-textured and refined, with a lovely weight of orchard fruit, salty notes, and a flowing, seamless transition into a lemon and salts finish. Really distinctive and one of the stars of this Criollas tasting for sure. Imported into the UK by Las Bodegas at time of review.
(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.
(2021) A new wine for this label, this Malbec comes from an organic certified vineyard in Agrelo, and is also Fairtrade certified, ensuring a higher standard of pay and conditions for the vineyard workers. It is 'oaked', having spent nine months in contact with organic oak staves inside the tanks. Vibrant purple in colour, the nose has the slight lift of Parma violet so often shown by Malbec, some charry notes, and solid black fruit. In the mouth a big, rich and velvetty mouthful of wine with its 14.5% alcohol, copious and sweet, with chocolate from the tannins and cherry from the acidity giving extra smoothness and richness. One for a casserole, steak or barbecue.
(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.
(2020) Named in honour of Nicolás Catena Zapata's father, Domingo Vicente, this range comes from historic family vineyards, all planted at altitude, in this case from 950- to 1450-metres in the Andes foothills. Fermentation was in stainless-steel, after which the wine spent six months maturing, partly in French oak barrels, with batonnage (stirring) of the lees. The nose offers that attractive and harmonious blend of crushed oatmeal and almond over lightly exotic, peach and Ogen melon fruit. There is delicate spice too. In the mouth there is plenty of fruit, really quite unctuous and juicy-ripe, the oak adding a little vanilla and toast and the acidity doing enough to freshen the finish. Big without being blowsy. Watch the video for more information and food-matching ideas - and there's a fine Malbec and a Cabernet Franc in the same range.
(2020) The largest producer of organic wines in the Mendoza province with 305 hectares of its own vineyards certified organic, Bodegas Argento's new wine blends 70% Malbec with Cabernet Franc. 20% of the Malbec is aged in French and American oak, and 30% of the Cab Franc in French oak. The wine is also Fairtrade accredited. Saturated and dark in colour, there's a touch of coffee and gravy browning, solid and spicy black fruit, and with swirling a little hint of something floral and violet-like. In the mouth it is dense and rich, sweet curranty fruit bolstered by a roughening edge of tannin. Powerful stuff, that really has to be matched with robust foods. Watch the video for more information and food-matching ideas.