Wine Republic Blind Tasting 2013

Wine Republic Blind Tasting 2013

tastingstickyOn celebrating 10 years of the magazine, we may still be underage in most – ok… all – countries but we wanted to celebrate in style: with plenty of great wines and a professional wine tasting with an esteemed panel. As the third Wine Republic Tasting (on 11 July 2013) we pulled together a fab lineup of seven wine experts to taste almost 70 wines in a blind tasting and give them a score according to their quality and how representative they are of the best and most interesting Argentine wines. All the wines selected by us are some of our favourites that we’ve tasted over recent years (so we knew they were all good!) but we wanted to put them to a professional blind tasting and share the results with you so you can see from an objective view some of Argentina’s top wines. Salud!

By Amanda Barnes

tastingwomanwhiteWhat is a blind tasting?

Although it would certainly be more fun to watch with the judges in blindfolds, a blind tasting is a wine tasting where wine is served in identical glasses and judges only know the bare minimum information about the wine: the variety, origin, year and in some cases a price guide. Tasting all the different wines individually, wine tasters can objectively appraise them without any prejudice or pre-formed opinions about the wineries involved, as they don’t know whose wines they are. Scoring wines on their appearance, aromas, taste and overall performance out of 100, we added all the judges scores together to make an average which is where the final score came from.

Although many wine tastings charge wineries extortionate amounts to participate, we make it our firm policy to have free entrance to wines so wineries of all sizes can participate and we can guarantee you that these were all tasted completely blind and with no back-handers.

The Judges…

You can’t just be any old wine-lover to taste almost 70 wines in three hours. Our judges all have extensive tasting experience and are the crème de la crème of the Argentine wine world!

Roberto de la Mota
One of the great dons of Argentine wine. Roberto de la Mota has been making wine since he was 19 years old. Following in his father’s footsteps he has worked for many well known wineries in Argentina – and is still a sought after consultant – as well as making his own wines under Mendel. A legend in Argentina.

Gabriela Celeste
Although her name might not ring a bell for all, Gabriela has a huge influence on many of the wines made in Argentina today. As Michel Rolland’s partner in EnoRolland, she consults to numerous wineries around the country and has wide experience with different varieties and regions. As the saying goes, ´behind every good man, there is a good woman´!

Martin Mantegini
This handsome sommelier is one of Mendoza’s best. Having started his own sommelier teaching and services with his, equally handsome, brother Luis a few years ago, the Manteginis teach, taste and judge across the region. As well as knowing Argentine wine well, Martin has extensive experience in Chile and teaches wine internationally in Spanish and English.

Duncan Killiner
A kiwi in Mendoza. Duncan Killiner is a flying winemaker who spends his time quaffing vino and making it all around Argentina, Chile and Uruguay for different wineries as well as his own labels: Manos Negras and Jelu. He has an impressive portfolio of harvests in the Americas, New Zealand, Europe and also Israel. With a strong background in tasting, Duncan has a formidable palate and energy.

Cristina Pandolfi
Of ´pura cepa´, Mendocinean Cristina Pandolfi may not be making wine but she whips most winemakers inline through her important position as Head of Statistics and Technical Subjects in the country’s National Wine Institute (INV). With an objective view and an admirable approach to tasting, Cristina has been a valued member of our panel since our first tasting in 2010.

Jose Spisso
Making wines in Argentina, Chile and Spain, winemaker Jose Spisso has a wealth of cross-continental experience. As the head winemaker at O Fournier in the Uco Valley, as well as O Fournier wineries in Chile and Spain, he knows what goes into making a good wine and the beautiful celebrated differences between varieties and regions.

Jose Bahamonde
One of Mendoza’s most loved wine journos, Jose Bahamonde says it as it is. With a radio programme that incorporates wine and music, In Vino Veritas, Jose has a wealth of experience in tasting and communicating about Argentine wine. A friendly character on the wine scene, you can follow his wine journeys on @elJosedelaGente

The Somm…

You can’t just open 70 bottles of wine and put them on a table. In a professional tasting wines need to be checked for spoilage, need to be served at the right temperature and in some cases (our 10 year Malbecs) they need to be decanted. All this was left to trusty Sommelier Myfanwy Turner. Graduated last year from Escuela Argentina de Sommelier, this half-Welsh-half-Argentine has been working in wine for six years and runs Mendoza Wine Camp.

Victoria Mermoz, Mariana Gomez Rus, Charlie O'Malley, Duncan Killiner, Jose Spisso, Martin Mantegini, Cristina Pandolfi, Jose Bahamonde, Gabriela Celeste, Amanda Barnes, Roberto de la Mota

The Wines!

By Amanda Barnes

Uco and Lujan Sauvignon Blancs

With fresh winds and vineyards at altitude, the Uco Valley and Lujan de Cuyo is the ideal place to make great Sauvignon Blanc. Here are some of the most exemplary Sauvignon Blancs in the region:

Doña Paula Estate, 2013. $75. 91 points

Coming from the sustainable social-project friendly Doña Paula winery, this beautiful Sauvignon Blanc has tropical fruits, herbs and a fabulous typicity for the varietal. The top scorer in the group.

Pulenta Estate, 2012. $90. 87 points

One of our favourite wineries, Pulenta Estate make some excellent vinos and their Sauvignon Blanc is a reference point for the variety in Argentina. Fresh, herbal and perfect for Summer.

Montesco, Agua de Roca 2012. $110. 87 points.

Made by renowned winemaker Matias Michilini, his personal project focuses on wines of single vineyards and this wine couldn´t be more mineral driven and terroir focused. A wild Sauvignon Blanc with that doesn’t play by the rules.

Mariflor, Bodega Rolland. $120. 89 points.

A complex and concentrated Sauvignon Blanc that has some real power to it, you wouldn’t expect anything less from Michel Rolland’s personal wine project in Vista Flores at the foot of the Andes mountains.

tastingdopeTerroir Torrontes

It used to be that you could only get decent Torrontes from up north, but that certainly isn’t the case anymore! Torrontes has spread like wildfire and it is being made all over the land. Called ‘the liar’ by locals for its floral, sweet nose that tricks you into surprise at its dry and sometimes bitter mouth. We picked some Torrontes’ that don’t lie and instead show their true and unique terroir.

Gimenez Riili, Perpertumm 2012. $59. 88 points.

Coming from the delightful Gimenez Riili brothers, this Torrontes is made in the desert-scape of La Rioja. With the long hot days and cool, cool nights it has the floral nose you’d expect but also a delicate touch.

Merced del Estero, Mil Vientos 2012. $65. 87 points

San Juan certainly is the land of a hundred winds, and this wine reflects that wild landscape and performs as a delightful tipple. Intense and floral with a great volume in mouth and a long finish.

Tukma, Gran Torrontes 2011. $95. 86 points.

Cafayate is certainly the home of Torrontes in many ways, but that doesn’t mean all wineries do the same. Tukma is a Torrontes with six months in oak, unusual for the variety but with a pleasing result of intensity and buttery volume.

The Chards

New World Chardonnay got a bad rap for being too oaky, but we wanted to show you some oaked Chardonnays that are nothing short of fabulous. You will find great unoaked Chardonnays here too, but when you want to spend a little more and try something with more meat – this is where to go!

Cobos, Bramare 2011. $179. 90 points.

Paul Hobbs is a big name in the wine business and so it is no surprise that his Chardonnay from his own winery in Lujan is big business too. A bit of honey, some fresh fruit and a great balance – this is a smashing wine.

Walter Bressia, Lagrima de Canela 2010. $220. 87 points.

Coming from one of the great Mendocinean winemakers, Walter Bressia, this wine’s name (Cinnamon Tear) is as poetic as the flavour. With a touch of Semillon and barrel fermentation it has a hint of spice and lashings of cream.

Catena Zapata, White Stone 2009. $500. 89 points.

Catena Zapata have been the pioneers of premium Chardonnay in Argentina and their brand new icon Chardonnay is a true testimony to their skill and a delicious delight to drink. Focusing on two different terroirs you can try their White Bones or White Stones and both will send shivers down your spine.

Unusual Bubbles

Argentina makes fantastic sparkling wine. There is no doubt about that. But we wanted to show you some wineries pushing the boat out a little and creating unique sparklers from red grape bases. There’s always an excuse to open a bottle of bubbly!

Casa Margot, Blanc de Noir. $110. 88 points.

With half the wine coming from Syrah (and the other half Chardonnay), this is an unusual Blanc de Noir. A lovely colour and a long finish, this is best served at Casa Margot’s gorgeous restaurant and boutique hotel in a refurbished artist’s house in Chacras.

Cruzat, Cuvee Reserve Rose. $120. 88 points.

One of our favourite sparkling wine makers in Argentina, Pedro Rosell is the sparkle in Argentina’s bubbly crown. Cruzat is a smaller sparkling wine project that focuses on Champagnoise method wines and his Pinot Noir based sparkling rose is sure to get any romantic night started – or finished – right.

Navarro Correas, Brut Malbec Rose. $50. 88 points.

In Argentina, you can’t not make a sparkling Malbec and this modern winery has admirably risen to the challenge. Delivering a fun rose that wins points for its simplicity, red fruit aromas and great price point.

Zuccardi, Alma 4, Bonarda. $120. 87 points.

As an oenology student, Sebastian Zuccardi simply wouldn’t accept the answer from his teacher that you just can’t make a sparkling red wine. So he set out to prove him wrong. And boy has he done it! This sparkling bonarda is a party fave in Argentina to bring something different to the table. Definitely daring and definitely unusual – gotta to love anyone proving their teacher wrong!

tastingmenUnder $50 Reds

A couple years ago this category would have been flooded with entries, but sadly with the rising costs in Argentina you can’t get too many great wines for less than $50. So a whooping round of applause to these wineries and winemakers who keep true to their fans and give you a good mid-week wine that won’t break the bank.

Casa La Primavera, Bonarda. $30. 86 points.

You simply can’t go wrong with this: a fruity bonarda with a great roundness and a dry finish… all for less than 5 bucks!

Cuarto Surco, Familia Tipo Malbec. $32. 87 points.

Out in the sticks of La Consulta, in the Uco Valley, this family Winery makes some great wines at a low price point. Expressive, aromatic and very Malbec!

Calatayud, Malbec 2012. $38. 86 points.

Made by gaucho brothers who own some of the most beautiful land in Vista Flores. True to their roots, this wine is simply made with great fruit – and you can taste it!

Bodegas Salentein, Killka Malbec. $49. 87 points.

Just squeezing into the category is this pleasing wine from the Dutch winery in Uco Valley. A well made Malbec affirming their solid reputation. Also a fantastic winery to visit with their own art gallery and chapel!

Unusual Varieties

When you think of Argentina, you think Malbec. But that doesn’t need to be the case anymore. There are some unusual and splendid varieties coming out of the country and here are some of the wineries and wines that are leading the band:

Las Perdices, Albariño 2012. $85. 92 points.

Mainly grown in Galicia Spain, this white variety has delicious aromas of peach and apricot. This wine was one of the favourites of the judges and a great example of how pushing the boat out can really pay off!

Cecchin, Graciana 2008. $60. 85 points.

Coming from one of the original organic wineries in Argentina, this humble project has great authenticity and character and their investigation into different varieties proves it. Floral, juicy, and fresh tannins.

Cecchin, Carignan 2008. $60. 86 points.

Making organic wine in the vineyard and winery is admirable enough, but family winery Cecchin earn extra kudos for their cool Carignan. Complex fruit and a little bit smoky, they do this Spanish grape justice.

Zuccardi, Textual, Ancellota. $60. 90 points.

We have nothing but love for a winery that puts so much effort into experimentation and Zuccardi would certainly be it. Their efforts with Ancellotta, an Italian grape, are nothing short of praise-worthy and this sexy, tobacco-laden red is a corker!

Zuccardi, Textual, Caladoc. $60. 87 points.

In his experimentation lab, you’ll find Sebastian Zuccardi and his team of winemakers working with a dozen of different varieties and only the best end up in the Textual line. One of them is Caladoc – a dense wine which comes from a cross between Grenache Noir and… yes, Malbec!

tastingwomanOff the Map Terroirs

Although buying Argentine wines from abroad you won’t often see wines from beyond Mendoza, while in Argentina you can find some really off the map terroirs producing interesting wines and some different varieties. Here’s a look at some of the lesser-known wine regions in the country.

Noble de San Javier, Malbec 2010. Cordoba. $80. 88 points.

Although famous for its Fernet, Cordoba actually makes decent wine too! This jammy Malbec comes from a traditional-style winery and has a bit of umph after 12 months in oak.

Piedra Parada, Merlot 2008. Chubut. $95. 91 points.

Coming from the Weinert crew but made in the deep south of Chubut, this wine is called stalled stone… and with its weighty minerality it makes perfect sense. An interesting wine that will send oenophiles crazy!

Finca Don Diego, Syrah Castaño 2008. Catamarca. $130. 87 points.

Catamarca is well known for its olive oil and its altiplano which stretches up to Bolivia, but you don’t get the chance to try many red wines from there. This Syrah is an exception: meaty, herbal and interesting.

Organic Producers

Argentina is pretty blessed with its sunny, dry climate. There is little risk of rot and infection so growing organic grapes is fairly easy, although sadly there aren’t as many wineries doing organic wines as there should be! Here are four producers that really do put the extra effort in keeping their vineyards green and making wine from organic grapes.

Caligiore, 4 Vacas Gordas, Malbec – Cabernet blend 2011. $40. 86 points.

With certified organic vineyards in Lujan de Cuyo and Ugarteche this project makes good Malbec and as well as being organic and only $40, the wine has a brilliant label with 4 fat cows chewing the cud. Judges didn’t see the label and they still gave it 86 points.

Cecchin, Malbec Reserva 2007, $90. 85 points.

As the owner Alberto points out, all vineyards and agriculture used to be organic. So when he took over his family vineyard he just never changed that. Cecchin has been, and always will be, an organic grassroots winery. They are also probably the first winery to do a sulphite free Malbec too!

Chacra, Manique Merlot, 2011, $180. 87 points.

A very cool project making wines from gnarly old vines in Patagonia, Chacra make biodynamic and organic wines and this Merlot is stunning. Elegant, subtle and with lots of fruit, this is a gorgeous wine which proves that Merlot is completely underrated in Argentina.

Ojo de Vino, Puro Cabernet Sauvignon, 2011. $82. 86 points.

Taken from organic vineyards in Agrelo, this Cabernet Sauvignon has lots of mature fruit and a long finish. Owned by a Swiss wine lover, Dieter Meier, the winery will soon be opening a rustic tourism circuit in their organic vineyards.

The Bonardas

Bonarda has long been the wine on everyone’s lips. Once it was the most planted variety in Argentina, although you wouldn’t necessarily know it. This workhorse red wine is prevalent in many blends but in recent years some winemakers have been unlocking Bonarda’s potential as a single variety wine.

Passionate Wine, Ineditos, 2012. $75. 85 points.

Passionate Wine is renowned winemaker Matias Michelini’s playful wine project where he makes wines for fun, for experimentation and for himself. It just so happens that lots of others like them too! This unique Bonarda is fermented with whole grape bunches and results in a fresh, fruity and characterful wine.

Caligliori, Bonarda 2012. $60. 88 points.

Full of fruit, well balanced and smooth drinking – this is the simplicity of Bonarda that enchants its drinkers. A great score from the judges for this easy going wine.

Nieto Senetiner, Cadus 2010. $300. 87 points.

As one of the first wineries to really focus on an icon level Bonarda, Nieto Senetiner is still at the top of its game. A complex wine with intense aromas and a long finish, this is one to mull over and deserves a bit of decanting.

El Enemigo, Bonardo 2009. $180. 87 points.

Made by Catena winemakers Alejandro Vigil and Adrianna Catena, this is their project where they go a little bit wild and make wines that are to love or hate. With 10% Cabernet Franc in the mix, this wine won’t make many enemies.

Small Vintners

This is – in my opinion – one of the most exciting categories. A pick of some of the most interesting independent vintners and small bodegas doing their thing with their own wine labels. Maximum personality expected!

Chacra 55, Pinot Noir 2011. $330. 91 points.

A South African with Danish heritage making wine in Patagonia, this is bound to be different to your usual wine here, and it is. With an incredible minerality that makes you feel like you are licking a wet stone, this is a delicate and beautiful wine that has elevated Chacra to cult status.

Marcelo Miras, Merlot 2011, $140. 86 points

This Mendocinean winemaker has been making wines in Patagonia for more than a decade and his own personal project is an expression of what he loves about making wine in the South. Originally making them just for family and friends he now sells them commercially too and also has a delicious Pinot Noir.

Matias Riccitelli, Malbec Vineyard Selection 2011, $165. 90 points.

This young winemaker heads up Fabre Montmayou but he also makes some fab wines under his eponymous label. One of the most promising, young winemakers, this is his blend of three Malbecs from different vineyards – a structured and handsome wine.

Cepas Elegidas, Suono (Malbec – Cabernet) 2009. $140. 89 points.

A bit of a wild child, Brennan Firth is your authentic creative winemaker. After doing harvest in the US and Argentina, he jumped into the deep end at 25 years old and started making his own wine with playful blends. Now 29 and in his fourth harvest for his label, he still never makes one wine the same as another but an elegance and individuality is characteristic in them all.

Marcelo Pelleriti, Terroir Blend Malbec 2009, $270. 90 points.

One of Argentina’s most loved winemakers, Marcelo Pelleritti makes wine all over the country but this is his own baby. Making racy and dark wines, these are designed to be enjoyed with good friends and some serious rock and roll. Check out his app for music and wine pairings and let the guitar strings hum and the wine flow!

Pablo Montarrel, Tierra de Dios Malbec 2008, $400. 91 points.

Pablo makes wines for The Vines of Mendoza as well as the lovely wines of Gimenez Riili. This is his first wine under his own name and is made in very limited quantities. 36 months in oak but you wouldn’t tell because of its beautiful fruit and elegance. A lightly spoken winemaker who lets his wines do the talking.

Antucura, Grand Vin (Cab Sauv, Merlot and Malbec) 2007, $170. 90 points.

This beautiful boutique winery has their very own unique style. Concentrating on Merlot they take the rich Vista Flores fruit and turn it into a complex wine that leads its own path in style, quite unlike most of its Uco neighbours. French owners, French winemakers and certainly a bit of je ne sais quis.

tastinggroupThe Cabs

Cabernet Sauvignon used to be the King of grapes in Argentina, and although Malbec pushed it off its throne a decade ago, there are still some good Cabs to be found and often at very good prices. Here are a few of our favourite mid to top range Cabernet Sauvignons.

Casarena, Rama Negra Reserve, 2011, $80. 88 points.

Alejandro Sejanovich is the consultant winemaker for this fairly new project in Lujan de Cuyo where Mendoza’s top Asian chef, Chef Mun, resides. This sweet and spicy Cab is perfect for pairing with flavourful dishes.

Clos de Chacras, Eredita, 2009. $95. 89 points.

This new release Cabernet Sauvignon has just come onto the market and is showcasing the beautiful boutique winery’s bold, structured red winemaking talent. Coming from the Uco Valley, this is intense and juicy.

Ruca Malen, Kinean 2008. $200. 88 points.

Named after the legend of a Mapuche woman who fell in love with a God on Aconcagua, this Cabernet has a romantic storyline to it and the juicy dark fruits and smoky bacon will help you wax lyrical for sure.

The Francs

It’s not a secret anymore: Argentina is producing some stunning Cabernet Francs that really give all the other red varieties a good run for their money. Don’t miss out on trying this variety here, these are some of the top ones in the country.

Durigutti, Cabernet Franc 2011. $155. 88 points.

A family run winery in Lujan de Cuyo this is a good example of Cabernet Franc as a single variety with an intense nose of fruit and spice with a long finish and good structure after over a year’s oak aging.

Pulenta Estate, Gran Cabernet Franc, $230. 88 points.

Pulenta has long been the winery to watch for their Cab Franc. As one of the first to make it an icon wine, they are still on top of their game with their bell pepper and mature fruit version. Delicious and always a favourite of visitors in Mendoza.

Riglos, Gran Cabernet Franc, $195. 88 points.

A group of wine specialists wanted to make a project focusing on ultra premium wines in Argentina, and Riglos is it. With specialists from all over the field, this is their Cabernet Franc offering from Gualtallary.

Andeluna, Passionado Cabernet Franc, $395. 91 points.

Coming from the owner of Lays, Andeluna certainly have the funds to concentrate on top premium wines and their intense and rich Cabernet Franc is a child of that expertise, at no cost spared. Simply fantastic.

Icon Malbecs

Most certainly the jewel in Argentina’s wine crown, you can’t go wrong with a good Malbec. And these Malbecs are the icons of the winery – the crème de la crème. All of them deserve good company and a couple hours of decanting.

Luigi Bosca, Los Nobles 2010. $480. 89 points.

Taken from their stunning Los Nobles vineyard which looks upon Tupungato volcano in the distance, this top quality Malbec is rich, intense and with gorgeous fruit. A well renowned winery with a long history of DOC status Malbecs. This is their iconic Malbec with just a smidgen of Petit Verdot in the mix.

Renacer, Renacer Malbec 2010. $240. 90 points.

A Chilean family wanted to make the best wines they could this side of the Andes and Renacer (rebirth in English) was their Argentine reincarnation. This is their top wine and the Malbec from Lujan de Cuyo and Uco Valley comes together in a very good value icon wine.

Serrera, Gran Guardia Malbec 2008. $190. 91 points.

A smaller winery that make honest and simple wines, this is their top line and the rich concentration and well balanced nature make it fantastic value for an icon wine for less than $200. Top marks all round!

Tapiz, Black Tears 2008. $350. 91 points.

There’s no reason to cry over this wine, apart from with joy. This wonderfully concentrated 100% Malbec is the top wine from Tapiz and the wine is one of the attractions to the winery but also the olive oil factory, restaurant and the beautiful Roggerone murial make it a good visit.

Altos Las Hormigas, Single Vineyard Vista Flores 2007. $500. 90 points.

This unique project with experts from Italy, Chile and Argentina has been doing some serious terroir investigation over the last few years. This single vineyard Malbec is the result of some hard work and impressive soil profiling, and it is a delicious result.

Icon Blends

Blending varieties can add another dimension to wines and these wineries chose to make their icon status wines blends. We’ve picked some of our favourite blends that show something a little different and use less common varieties as well as Malbec.

Domaine St Diego, 9 Lunas 2010. $150. 90 points.

Winemaker Angel Mendoza is one of Mendoza’s best loved characters in wine: a warm, charismatic winemaker who makes you feel at home on visiting his small winery in Lunlunta. This is a romantic blend made under 9 harvest moons and with Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Mendel, Unus 2010. $200. 92 points.

Roberto de la Mota is the head of this historical, boutique winery and this blend of Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot is a gorgeous example of their intense and balanced wines. An excellent wine guaranteed. **

El Esteco, Altimus 2010. $360. 91 points.

Coming from the high altitudes of Salta, this winery makes their icon blend a complex and beautiful mix of Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Bonarda, Tannat and Syrah. Multi-layered and interesting with the trademark inky dark colours of Salta.

NQN, Malma Universo 2009, $160. 90 points.

Coming from the deep south of Argentina in Patagonia, this smaller winery makes altogether different wines in style: feminine, delicate and more floral. Their icon blend is Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon and a lovely tipple ready to drink now.

El Enemigo, El Gran Enemigo 2009. $360. 91 points.

This icon wine from the alternative Catena duo is a brilliant rule breaker for a showcase wine: Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and just a splash of Malbec. Juicy, intense and with some violet floral notes, this wine proved very popular among some judges who gave it their highest score of the night.

Carinae, Prestige 2007. $300. 90 points.

Made by French retirees who refurbished an old winery in Maipu to start a new life in winemaking and enjoying the good life, Philippe and Bridgitte make some lovely wines with a unique style of their own including this icon level blend with Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah.

O Fournier, Alfa Crux 2006. $300. 92 points.

This stunning Spanish owned winery in the extremities of Uco Valley makes a fantastic Tempranillo and their icon blend (with 25% Malbec) is an ode to their commitment to the Spanish variety and doing something a bit different to everyone else. Spicy, complex and a long finish. **

10 Year Malbecs

This year to celebrate our ten-year anniversary of the magazine we put together a very special category: 10-year-old Malbecs from 2003. We’d like to especially thank the wineries that participated in this category. Not only is it brave and courageous to put your icon wines on the line to see how they’ve developed over 10 years (and many of them were their first harvests) but also these wines are priceless – there are few in the market and even less in the wineries cellars. It was a real pleasure to see how well Malbec stands up to the years and a great accolade to all of these producers that their wines looked and tasted so good after a decade.

Ruca Malen, Malbec 2003. 92 points.

With the least amount of oak (1 year) this Malbec showed more evolved fruit and all things cinnamon and spice which pleased judges for its cigar box depth too. Ruca Malen is an attractive winery on the wine route in Lujan and you can try some of their older vintages during their delicious wine paired lunch.

Dolium, Gran Reserva Malbec. 2003. 89 points.

Red fruits, vanilla and a silky texture, Dolium’s Malbec has gained fans both sides of the Atlantic. This winery is in Agrelo, coined the home of Malbec, and you’ll find one of the first subterranean wineries in the Americas designed by the founder, an Italian engineer called Mario. His son Ricardo now runs the winery.

Altavista, Alto 2003. 92 points

With a little bit of Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend, this Malbec really stood up to the test of time with great structure and depth. Altavista is the brainchild of French investors who wanted to make Old World wines in the New World and, as you can see, they are certainly doing it right.

Monteviejo, Lindaflor Malbec 2003. 94 points.

When a judge writes ‘WOW’ on their tasting notes, you know this is a pretty impressive wine. This Malbec swept the board with the highest scores of the evening. Only their second harvest, this is very accomplished with great concentration but also the trademark floral notes of Vista Flores. Part of the Clos de 7 project, Monteviejo is headed up by winemaker Marcelo Pelleriti.

Catena Zapata, Angelica Zapata 2003. 92 points.

As one of the first wineries to focus on high quality Malbecs, Catena Zapata is wine royalty in Argentina and remains so with their exceptionally high quality wines. This Angelica Zapata is great proof of their long track history of making wines that will leave a legacy. Long live Argentine Malbec!

 By Amanda Barnes

** In the case of wines included in the tasting made by one of the judging panel, the relevant judge’s score was removed from the average to leave the final score.