The ‘Barullo Sessions, Summer Solstice’ tasting recently looked to showcase the new breed of white, rosé and sparkling wine coming out of Argentina. Courtesy of Phil Crozier – the new UK and European brand ambassador for Wines of Argentina – Harry Crowther tasted his way through the strength in depth of what Argentina is currently producing as we look to peel ourselves away form the Malbec mindset. Here are 8 wines that really his head.
As summer 2018 is in full swing, there was no better time to be enjoying the best white, rosé and fizz that Argentina has to offer than on the sun-bathed rooftop of The Ned – London’s latest trendy 5-star hotel in the heart of the capital.
As the book says, no Argentinian white wine tasting would be complete without a Torrontes, the only grape that Argentina can truly call their own. Characterised by its elderflower, tropical florals, Torrontes is the first grape that springs to mind, when I think white wine and Argentina.
“We are seeing more serious plantings of the La Riojana clone across chalky soils in Mendoza,” comments Phil Crozier. Interestingly, expressions from Salta and Mendoza couldn’t be further apart in terms of style. I found more minerality and less aromatic character from the more southern expressions of Mendoza, “new trends for austerity are starting to be explored” Phil advises.
(RRP £14.50 – Las Bodegas)
La Riojana clone planted on chalky soils, from Altimira and Gualtallary (Mendoza). Faithful tropical Torrontes notes with a pinch of green herbs. Lean and clean profile that I expect comes from Mendoza fruit. Rich and powerful (Salta) with a sweet undertone at the back of the palate. Guava and passion fruit persist through to the finish.
Two Chardonnays that need to be on your radar
(RRP £19.25 – Las Bodegas)
A wine that screams personality. Expect spice, white flowers and bruised apple. I remember asking for a top-up of this one after my first taste. I then took it to the bar and mulled over it probably for longer than I should have, but it’s that good. Oodles of complexity, well balanced between a ripe, generous fruit profile and welcomed oak treatment that delivers the luxury treatment. One of the best Chardonnays I have tried this year.
Costa y Pampa, Chardonnay, 2017, Mar Del Plata, Buenos Aires
(RRP £11.27 – Enotria & Coe)
This was a first for me and, from the reaction of others in the room, it was for them as well – Chardonnay from coastal Buenos Aires six kilometers from the sea.
This is a wine that feels terroir-specific, it’s saline, almost sea salty and crisp. If I were to taste it blind, I probably wouldn’t say Chard, but who cares, it’s a fun wine, well worth a try and one of those that says, “its not all about Mendoza, look at what we can do over here!”
Refreshing green apple acidity and a tip-of-the-hat to not only the versatility of Chardonnay, but also to any of the lesser-known region(s) of Argentina as well.
Blends showing off what less expected varietals can do here
When I touched base with Phil Crozier back in March at the Argentina ‘Under the Radar’ tasting, he informed me that the potential for Argentina’s more obscure varieties is now being realised. Old vine Semillon, Chenin Blanc and Pinot Gris amongst others are now being cultivated and vinified with great success… particularly when you throw a little Torrontes into the mix.
Masi Tupungato, ‘Passo Blanco’, 2017, Uco Valley, Mendoza
(RRP £11.99 – Berkmann Wine Cellars)
A blend of Pinot Gris (60%) and Torrontes (40%). Given that the Torrontes fruit is from Mendoza, this wine offers less of the exotics one might expect from reading the label. It’s waxy, with green, grassy tones running throughout. Impressive balance across the palate. Not your everyday blend of varietals, but this works for me!
(RRP £18.75 – Las Bodegas)
Sauvignon Blanc (34%), Torrontes (33%) and Semillon (33%). A round of applause once again for Suzy B! Classic, bell pepper, capsicum, New Zealand-style savvy nose. Spice. Aromatic complexity and a honeyed lanolin texture I expect from the Semillon through the mid-palate. This is appropriately lifted by an under-ripe freshness on the finish that left me wanting more. A beautifully crafted wine!
Trapiche, ‘Pure’, Rose, 2018, Mendoza
(RRP £7.99 – The Co-operative Group)
A blend of Sangiovese (70%) and Syrah (30%). Rosé these days is all about first impressions. If it isn’t the right colour then, well it’s a turn-off unfortunately. Trapiche has nailed this one. A medium bodied rosé with plenty of phenolic texture and grip – brightness is delivered in both colour and acidity. It’s at home with or without food and a perfect alternative to the market’s insatiable lust for Provence-style rosé.
Norton, ‘Perdriel’, Extra Brut, NV, Lujan de Cuyo, Mendoza
(RRP £19.99 – Berkmann Wine Cellars)
Traditional method blend of Chardonnay (50%) and Pinot Noir (50%). Attractive autolytic nuances on the nose of brioche and custard with a peachy undertone. A very well balanced wine with depth and mineral purity wrapped up in a finely textured mousse.
Vincentin, Rosado de Malbec, NV, Uco Valley/Lujan de Cuyo, Mendoza
(RRP £18.00 – Sandhams Wine Merchants)
This wine explores the chic, elegant applications of Malbec (100%). It displays all those characteristics faithful to the varietal as it wears a pretty, stylish and graceful get-up. Light pink in colour, an intense nose of damson, violets and crushed raspberries. A dash of sweetness across the finish rounds off a light, airy and subtle mouth-feel.
Many thanks again to Wines of Argentina and Phil Crozier for hosting the latest instalment of ‘Barullo Sessions’ and to the team at The Ned for hosting the first of, hopefully, many more tastings of its kind.