Tag Archives: Argentina

Because of the gorgeous summer weather: Two Rosés I liked…and a bonus wine

The wines were received as samples from the winery or a marketing association.

We’ve been spending the whole week in London and Oxford, and the weather has been startlingly gorgeous: temperatures in the high 20s Celsius, barely any rain. I don’t think I have ever seen the UK like this…with temperatures like this, I find myself reaching for Rosés, fulfilling every Rosé stereotype: that they are only really good when it’s warm and you can drink them very well chilled. In fact there are a lot more uses for these types of wine, and I acknowledge them, but to me a Rosé still tastes best in the summer…

Over the last months, I received a couple of samples and I was particularly impressed by these two:


Piattelli Premium Malbec Rosé

Piattelli Premium Malbec Rosé

2013 Piattelli Vineyards Premium Reserve Rosé of Malbec

Piattelli Vineyards is an Argentinian winery with holdings on the Eastern side of the Andes in Mendoza and Salta whose head oenologist is Valeria Antolin. This particular wine was made with 91% Malbec and 9% Torrontés (a white grape) grapes and has 14% ABV. I tried it as part of #BevChat, a Twitter tasting, in May. The wine poured (as you can see) in a bright red that I would describe as watermelon color.  The nose offered roses and melon aromas, and was enticing. On the palate, this presented itself as a serious wine, pretty heavy with not much acidity. It felt much more like a light red than a heavy white, if you know what I mean. It had pretty good balance and not much fruit.  The main reason I like this particular wine is that it pairs great with a BBQ, THE summer food. It has the heft to stand up to these charred aromas, and is still fresh. Someone else tried it with a sausage and mushroom pizza and was also seriously impressed. This is not your easy-peasy Rosé you can grab for a few bucks at the liquor store, but it shows what Rosé can be capable of. Retails for between $8 and $14.

Cline Cellars Rosé

Cline Cellars Rosé

Cline Cellars 2013 Mourvèdre Rosé Contra Costa County

I tried this wine as part of a #WineChat hosted by Protocol Wine Studios and received the wine as a sample from Cline Cellars. Cline Cellars has a reputation for producing Rhone-style wines in California, and as it happens, Mourvèdre is a standard Rhone grape but is rare to find in California. The wine has 13.5% ABV and 8.1 grams of residual sugar per liter. The special thing about this Rosé is that the grapes come from vines that are a century old, which is not normally material for a Rosé. It shows that Cline Cellars takes this wine seriously. The way the wine is made is as a blanc de noir, basically a white wine made from red grapes. Let me just say that I loved this wine. It was wonderfully full of raspberry aromas with some floral elements, and it was just super fresh and great. Nice acidity keeps it lively, and the hint of sweetness makes for great drinkability. Retails for between $10 and $14.

And while we’re talking Cline Cellars, let me add a non-Rosé to the mix:

Cline Cool Climate Pinot Noir (Photo credit: www.wine-searcher.com)

Cline Cool Climate Pinot Noir (Photo credit: http://www.wine-searcher.com)

Cline Cellars 2012 Cool Climate Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast

This wine was part of the Cline Cellars tasting, and if you know me, you might have picked up on my weariness when it comes to California Pinot Noir, which I often find too strong, too intense, too fruity. Well, not this one, let me tell you. At 14.5% ABV it is definitely a tad higher than I would wish for in a Pinot Noir, but the wine’s aromas totally made up for it: In the glass, this Pinot Noir was prune colored. The nose gave away raspberry, cherry, white cake batter, and was slightly perfumy. An intriguing mix of aromas. On the palate, the wine was a bit smoky, showed aromas of cocoa and cherry and just great acidity! Someone wasn’t shying away from it in a very good way. There was also enough forest aromas in the wine to make it recognizable as a Pinot Noir, but it wore its New World colors proudly. A great mix, in my book. This should work really well with a BBQ and was a great surprise! Retails for between $15 and $20 and is a great value!


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A Tale of France and Argentina: A Malbec Tasting

The line up for the Malbec tasting with wines from France and Argentina...and a New Zealander

The line up for the Malbec tasting with wines from France and Argentina…and a New Zealander

Two weeks ago, Nina organized a Malbec tasting with friends of ours. Malbecs are some of Nina’s favorite red wines, with their strong and edgy character. It is just what she is looking for in red wines. The tasting had been a long time in the making. Given our usual shoestring budget, she had acquired different, everyday Malbecs that you can find all over the place. To make things interesting, she decided not only to try Argentina Malbecs but also two from France. And in the end, she decided to throw in a Merlot/Malbec blend from New Zealand for the fun of it.

Now, as some of you may know, I am usually not a big fan of “bold” (aka strong) reds. I prefer old world style Pinot Noirs and a more balanced approach to grapes. I also am struggling with understanding red wines in the way I feel I intuitively understand white wines. But I was curious about this tasting, too. Nina’s hope in this endeavor was to figure out what exactly draws her to Malbecs. And, let’s not forget, it’s also tons of fun to have friends over and do a tasting together (for my thoughts on tastings at home, go here). This was the first time we used the tasting sheets provided by De Long Wine Discoveries which I found super helpful (check them out here). With these caveats ahead, please take my reviews with a grain of salt from the perspective of someone who generally prefers milder wines. Also, as I indicated, the wines tasted are on the lower level of of prices and retail between $8 and $17. Each wine was decanted for roughly 30-45 minutes.

We started with the two French Malbecs. I had read prior that Malbecs from the core French Malbec region Cahors tend to be quite tannic so we decided to get them out of the way before we moved to the Argentina Malbecs, which are said to be more fruity.

2010 Vigouroux Pigmentum and 2009 Chateau de Port Cuvée Prestige

2010 Vigouroux Pigmentum and 2009 Chateau de Port Cuvée Prestige

First up was the 2010 Georges Vigouroux Pigmentum. The wine has 13.5% ABV. It was of dark, clear ruby color. In the nose it was moderately aromatic with alcohol, plum, herbs and hints of tobacco. It was dry, medium bodied, with crisp acidity and quite flavorful. I tasted strong tannins, some red berries and a mineralic note. It was fruitier than I would have expected with a long finish. I thought this was a pretty good start. The wine was less tannic than I thought and fruitier. It also paired well with the soft cheeses we tried. (When retasted two days later, it was still good: more cherry aromas in the nose, with almonds, and great raspberry and blackberry on the palate).

Next up was 2009 Chateau du Port Cuvée Prestige, also from Cahors. This wine has 14% ABV. Of deep, purplish red color, it was aromatic in the nose and showed some age. I got cherries, strawberries, mint and violets and thought the nose was awesome. On the palate, I got a dry, medium bodied and smooth wine with medium tannins. The flavor profile was a bit of a let down, though: I got vegetal notes, but mostly bitter aromas and alcohol notes. It almost tasted a bit green. The nose just promised more than I got in my mouth, which disappointed me. (After two days, this was virtually dead. Bitter aromas had increased, and it smelled musty.)

We then moved on to the Argentina Malbecs. All were from Mendoza.

2011 Catena Alamos and 2011 Gascón Malbec

2011 Catena Alamos and 2011 Gascón Malbec

First up was the ubiquitous 2011 Catena Alamos Malbec with 13.7% ABV. Of medium ruby red color, the wine showed moderate aromas of vanilla, branches and almonds on the nose. I hardly got any fruit (which I found surprising) – others at the table disagreed and got a lot of fruit (stone fruit and red fruit). On the palate, it was dry, medium-bodied and quite smooth acidity-wise. But the tannins were strong and hard and I felt the wine was quite unbalanced. It was very peppery and tasted a bit green. The finish was short and disappointing. It felt quite closed at that point. (When I retried it two days later it was quite the revelation: the nose showed raspberry and currants and was very appealing. On the palate it also showed freshness and black currant aromas that I liked a lot! So, let this one breathe for quite a bit!)

Next up was the 2011 Don Miguel Gascón Malbec with 13.9% ABV. Dark and purplish in the glass, its aroma profile was good and youthful, with raspberries and other red fruit. I wrote down “pleasant nose”. On the palate, it was dry and medium bodied with a crisp acidity. The tannins seemed low and it was fairly balanced to me. Initially, I thought the taste was pleasant but then it got a bitter. It definitely showed more fruit than the two previous wines, but also had some pepper notes. What disturbed me most was its heat. There was just something about it that was too alcoholic for me. (Two days later, this wine showed a great nose of gooseberry, tart raspberries and jasmine. Very pleasant. On the palate, it had lost its bitterness and showed jasmine and green tea aromas and was very herbal. Again, I enjoyed this much more two days later, so: decant or aerate a lot!)

2010 Terrazas de los Andes Altos del Plata and 2010 Trapiche Oak Cask

2010 Terrazas de los Andes Altos del Plata and 2010 Trapiche Oak Cask

Next came the 2010 Terrazas de los Andes Altos del Plata Malbec with 14% ABV. Again, deep ruby colors with moderate aromas of oak, mountain flowers and almonds. I found the wine surprisingly sweet with smooth acidity and medium tannins. It showed aromas of pepper, red fruit, mint and some slight bitter notes. It was nicely spicy, but also showed too much heat for me. With a rather short finish. I wrote down “best of Argentinians so far”. (Two days later, this wine was dead.)

We then tried the 2010 Trapiche Oak Cask Malbec with 14% ABV. Deep ruby red color and a quite unpleasant nose of greenness, acidity, crude oil and butter. Not pleasant at all for me. On the dry side, with a light to medium body and crisp acidity, it showed high tannins and felt quite unbalanced regarding alcohol and tannins. It had a lot of heat, was watery and showed no signs of oak. Some red fruit and pepper. I did not like this wine at all. (Two days later, it showed strawberry and blackberry in the nose. It tasted sour with some spice and felt a tad better than initially assessed. Still would not buy this again.)

2009 Norton Reserva and 2007 Mills Reef Reserve

2009 Norton Reserva and 2007 Mills Reef Reserve

The final single variety Malbec was the 2009 Norton Malbec Reserva with 14.5% ABV. Deep and ruby colored, it showed powerful aromas in the nose. I got toffee, salt, soda, coffee and some cabbage notes. It was dry and medium to full bodied with medium to high tannins. It was nicely balanced, I thought, and flavorful: I got sour cherries, raspberry, lemon curd. Some said they got pie crust as an aroma. The finish was medium to long. All in all, I thought this was an alright wine. Maybe too citric and not as smooth as others felt, but still enjoyable. (Two days later it still tasted fine. The flavor profile showed some vanilla that I did not get initially)

We finished the red tasting with the 2007 Mills Reef Hawkes Bay Merlot Malbec Reserve from New Zealand. A 51% Merlot, 49% Malbec blend that has 14% ABV. Of medium red to garnet color, it was aromatic with some age and showed raspberry, herbal aromas, mint and strawberry. It was dry and medium bodied with fresh acidity, low tannins and was decently balanced. I thought it was quite enjoyable with some wood and slight vanilla aromas. It was a tad sweeter than the previous wines and not very fruity. Again, I thought this was an alright wine but it did not impress me. (Two days later, it had contracted to a thin, sweet wine that reminded me of bad port wine.)

So, who was the winner? I guess from the initial tasting I would go with the first one (Pigmentum from France) and the last wine (the New Zealans blend). However, after enough air got to them, the Alamos and the Gascón were actually quite enjoyable and pretty good value at around $10.

What I preferred: 2010 Kurt Hain Piesporter Goldtröpfchen Riesling Kabinett

What I preferred: 2010 Kurt Hain Piesporter Goldtröpfchen Riesling Kabinett

We finished the evening with a German Riesling, what else? We had planned for an aged Riesling (a 1991) but when I saw the cork and how wet it was, I decided against opening it. I want to talk to the seller first. So, I threw a 2010 Kurt Hain Piesporter Goldtröpfchen Riesling Kabinett in the freezer. Opened it, and loved it. Notes will follow when I actually am taking notes. It was a wonderful refreshing Riesling from a producer I like a lot. And a great way to end an awesome night with friends, wine and cheese.

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2010 Domaine Jean Bousquet Malbec

2010 Domaine Jean Bousquet Malbec

Another short wine review today, while working on bigger posts for the upcoming posts. Nina is a big fan of malbecs, so we acquired a number of them in the past months. I have no particular opinion on malbec, but there are times when I enjoy bold red wines, and malbecs can have that quality to them.

We received this particular bottle as a gift from friends. It was our first malbec by Domaine Jean Bousquet. The label says the wine was made with organically grown grapes in the Tupungato Valley of Argentina. The neck of the bottle is adorned with a sticker “Best Buy 89 Points Wine Enthusiast New Release”.

The website states that Jean Bousquet is a Frenchman who owned 120 hectares of vineyards around Carcassonne, France, before he bought 110 hectares (265 acres) in Tupungato Valley, Mendoza, Argentina in 1997 and planted vines there. The stated goal is to combine European winemaking with the terroir of Mendoza Valley.

The winery produces three lines of wines: Domaine Jean Bousquet as the estate wines with grapes grown on their property (with reserva and grand reserve), Santa Bax sparkling wines and Cameleon.

Our 2010 Domaine Jean Bousquet Malbec is the basic wine of their estate grown grapes. The website indicates that the 2010 vintage won several bronze medals in international contests. Apparently the 2009 vintage was very good, with a gold medal from Mundus Vini and the above mentioned Wine Enthusiast rating.

I will take this opportunity to state my disdain for this practice: I have no problem with bottles being marketed with prizes they actually won. But here, it is very clear that the Wine Enthusiast rating that is being advertised does not apply to the current vintage. The words “New Release”, which try to indicate that fact, are not very helpful. Ratings are problematic by themselves already, but slapping a rating on a bottle that does not apply to the current vintage (and not stating that fact in clear terms!) in my view is deceptive.

But on to the wine: It poured in a dark, ruby red. The nose was disappointingly green and alcoholic, rather prominent oak and unpleasant memories of cold mulled wine. On the palate, the wine was surprisingly medium bodied, with a nice jammy fruit of red berries with good acidity. It was better on the palate than the nose let on. The finish was short. The 14% ABV were not noticeable, it was easy to drink.

There was really nothing memorable about the wine. The wine seems to retail for around $11, which is an ok price for an unexciting, but drinkable wine. The nose was definitely off-putting and a downer.

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