Wine wonders: getting the best Argentinian wines

Ed’s back answering more of our wine wonders! This time he’s sharing his knowledge of the great and the good Argentinian wines. Over to you Ed!

Recently I was lucky enough to spend a day with Ramiro Barrios from Trapiche, one of the leading wineries of Argentina.  Trapiche has been making wines for over 125 years and has some impressive award wins under its belt, achieving the International Wine and Spirits Challenge (IWSC) award for ‘Argentine Wine Producer of the Year’ three times in its history (not bad when the awards started in 2004!).

The vast majority of wine from Argentina is produced in the Mendoza region in the foothills of the Andes. Pretty much every wine growing region claims they have a unique combination of soils, weather and terrain (what we refer to as ‘terroir’) but in this case Mendoza really is a great recipe. A lot of the Trapiche wines are grown at reasonably high altitude, around 1,000 metres and this gives the grapes the high level of sunshine they need without it being too hot, meaning they have a long time to ripen naturally leading to a fuller flavour. Most people think of Malbec when they think of wines from Argentina and with good reason. Originally found in the Cahors area of South West France, the first Malbec was brought to Argentina by Luis Pouget in the mid 19th century and has thrived since but there are so many other wines made in Argentina that demand attention and it’s a few of these I will write about (Malbec lovers don’t despair I’ll recommend one of those too!)

Torrontés is a native grape variety to Argentina and is starting to get some deserved attention in the UK. Quite fragrant and floral in style these are fantastic wines to have on their own or match up well with Asian food from Thai to Indian. One of my favourites is from Trapiche’s ‘Astica’ range (RRP £7.49), some Torrontés can be too intense, too floral and a little bit over the top but the ‘Astica’ is a bit of a Goldilocks. It does have the signature aromas and flavours of Torrontés but these are nicely balanced by the acidity of the wine, giving it a lovely freshness and citrus flavours. Definitely one to drink with your feet up!

Now for something a little different. Trapiche’s ‘Broquel’ range contains some very familiar grape varities; Pinot Noir, Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon etc but one you may not be so familiar with is Cabernet Franc. Not usually seen as single varietal wine, except from the Chinon area in the Loire Valley, this grape variety is used mainly in Bordeaux blends along with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot but the Broquel makes an incredibly strong case for seeing this grape on its own! With a ton of juicy black fruit flavours, smokiness and some subtle spice this wine is beautifully smooth and pretty full bodied. Definitely one for the BBQ (fingers crossed). At around £12.99 this wine is bit more expensive but worth every penny in my book.

For the more traditional red wine drinker Cabernet Sauvignon reigns supreme and Argentina has some crackers. ‘Finca Las Palmas’ Cabernet Sauvignon has only just arrived in the UK and about time too, the 2007 vintage won the IWSC award for best Cabernet Sauvignon in the Southern Hemisphere! That’s better than anything from Chile, South Africa, New Zealand or Australia and what do you pay for this stunner? About £14.99, now that’s pretty decent value, right? A lot of classic flavours and aromas of leather, cassis and cedar wood and rounded out with silky smooth tannins and elegant caramel and toast from 18 months ageing in oak barrels. Definitely one to impress people with!

Finally as I said I have to mention a Malbec and the Trapiche ‘Melodias’ is a great example. Spanish for melody, the idea behind the ‘Melodias’ wines is that they bring together individual notes of the wine to form a harmonious melody. Cheesy I know, but hey it’s true! This is a really well made wine with plenty of fruit ( you may have noticed a fruity theme here but it’s what the growing conditions of Mendoza deliver!) with touches of sweet spice and vanilla. A great mid week supper wine, this comes in at around £8.49.

If you’d like to get yourself a bottle of Trapiche you’ll find it at Handford Wines, South Kensington, and Mr Lawrence Wine Merchant. Tesco online also has a couple of their bottles.

Wow there’s a lot involved in this wine business!! Some great information here. If you’re a bit like me and may have even more wine wonders after this post, make sure you come back as Ed will be going back to basics! In the meantime if you have any questions don’t be afraid to ask and post your wonderings below!

*all images from Traphice’s website.