Category Archives: Argentina

Nieto Senetiner 2013 Bonarda (Charbono)

Lujan de Cuyo, Mendoza, Argentina; 13% ABV
$5 (I think) at the Richmond, CA, store some weeks ago.  No longer there.

After being open a couple hours, the wine shows soft, ripe, tangy, fruit of black raspberry / almost blackberry, dark cherry, purple plum / pit, violets / licorice, wood / coffee, with somewhat zingy acid of hibiscus tea and mild, chewy tannin on the finish.  It’s not a must-have, but it’s a quite good New World wine for the price.  It would make a good stand-in for Zinfandel.

The next day, the last bit in the glass was redder and more acid.  It was still pretty tasty, but it’s probably better consumed the first day.

This is one of many wines I bought before and while I was not drinking.  Please bear with me while I work through this backlog.

2014 “Pioneer Red”

“Imported by Vinedos La Consulta, Sonoma, CA
Product of Argentina
Vinted and Bottled by S&R Wines, Graton, CA”
unspecified red blend; 14.5% ABV
$5 at the Richmond, CA store on 8 Feb

pioneer_2014_redI usually stay away from non-traditional blends that don’t say what’s in them, but this one somehow intrigued me.  It’s a bit on the soft and ripe side for me, but it is quite tasty and easy to drink.

The wine is engagingly tasty from first pour, showing sweetly ripe red cherry with tangy dark red raspberry, rustic purple boysenberry, vanilla, and a hint of roses / violets.  It smooths out and darkens (including more mulberry / blackberry) over about two hours in a decanter.  The wine is highly Drinkable.

This wine appears to be from the La Consulta, Mendoza, Argentina winery Adelante.  Their web pages mention only Malbec, so I’ll assume this wine is at least predominantly Malbec.  The web site says, “The 2014 vintage was challenging as weather conditions varied from region to region and vineyard to vineyard,” so I’ll further speculate that this wine is Malbec that didn’t meet the standards for their Adelante label.  The label above appears to show an old photo of their winemaker, Ray Kaufman (left), who got his start in Sonoma County, CA.

The next day, the saved single-glass, screw-cap bottle is less red, more blue / purple, but still delicious.

El Supremo 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon

Mendoza, Argentina; 13.4% ABV
$4 at the Richmond, CA, store on 28 Dec

elsupremo_2015_cabernetI thought the label of this wine had some character to it, and that the color of the wine through the bottle looked nicely dark.  When I poured it, the color of the wine was indeed quite pretty.  However, on tasting, the wine had this weird organic chemical flavor that was very off-putting.  I’m not sure what the wine fault is, but to me it tasted sort of like over-ripe or slightly spoiled fruit.  It was otherwise a pretty good wine for the price, but I’ll have to say Thumbs Down.

Trivento 2013 “Amado Sur” Torrontés blend

80% Torrontés, 10% Viognier, 10% Chardonnay; 13,5% ABV
Mendoza, Argentina
$4 at the Richmond, CA, store on 17 June

TriventoAmadoSur_2013_TorrontesBlendThis wine, with its delicate yellow – green color, interesting blend, and low price, was an immediate buy for me.  I didn’t like it as much as I had expected to, but it is an interesting, complex wine.

The nose of less ripe peach, melon, green apple and jasmine / honeysuckle is immediately appealing.  On the palate, the wine tastes of a little bit of yellow apple / melon before becoming dominated by less ripe green and white melon, white peach, and green apple with a little tropical fruit (golden kiwi (yellow) / soursop (white)), finishing with a thicker minerality.  There is a moderate amount of bitterness of melon rind / grapeskin, and the acid is quite crisp.  The texture is slightly fleshy, typical of Torrontés.

The next day, the flavors were much better integrated, but the fleshiness, minerality and assertive complexity had all declined.  It was pretty good both days, though.  It would be good with lighter seafood dishes such as white fish, crab, shellfish.

I found this very interesting wine, but not an easy wine to love, so for me only Drinkable.  For those of you particularly enamored with the more acid European wine styles, this is probably a Thumbs Up.

Los Poetas 2011 “Libertad”

Produced and bottled by Altocedro, Mendoza, Argentina; 14.9% ABV
$7 at the Richmond, CA, store on 13 Jan

LasPoetas_2011_LibertadThis wine, with its back label describing the winemaker’s passion for poetry and high-altitude vineyards, looked promising.  It turned out to be outstanding.

I thought the wine needed about 80 minutes in a decanter to fully air, when it tasted of dark blueberry and boysenberry, dark roses / violets, and black earth, with only the occasional slight hint of green bell pepper, and probably other complexities I couldn’t pick out.  The body was full and richly textured.  To me, it tasted mostly like Syrah and Malbec, with some other grape(s) in smaller amounts.  IMO, this is an exceptional GO buy, but you should drink it now.  I don’t expect it to improve, and it could start going downhill soon.

The next day, the saved single-glass screwcap bottle still needed about the same amount of time to air.  It was redder and less rich and complex than on the first night, but still very tasty.  That reinforces my opinion that this is a “drink now” wine.

Fincas Don Martino 2011 Old Vine Pedro Ximenez

Mendoza, Argentina
100% Pedro Ximinez; 13.5% ABV
$5 at the Richmond, CA, store on about 23 Dec (online prices about $16)

Martino_2011_PedroXimenezI had never heard of this grape, and the description on the back label sounded good (“vineyard located at 3280 feet above sea level, 63 years old.  partial malolactic fermentation seeking for aromatic complexity.  clean, bright, fresh and lively.  aromas of tropical fruit and floral expression…”), so of course I had to get one.  (Label photo is of empty bottle.)

While the Wikipedia article linked above says most PX grown in Argentina and Chile is actually an apparently unrelated grape called Pedro Gimenez, I found this review from the Wine Advocate giving it 88 points: “The 2011 Pedro Ximenez is an intriguing effort. The grape is best known for its role in the production of dessert style Sherry in Spain but is rarely made into dry table wine because of its supposed lack of character. Pale straw in color, it exhibits a pleasing perfume of melon, jasmine, and a hint of mineral. Medium-bodied and round on the palate, it has plenty of fruit and just enough acidity for balance. Drink it over the next 1-2 years.”  I will take the WA’s word for it that this is actually PX.  Anyway…

On the first night open, the first couple small pours were a little heavy and musty.  But after about 30 minutes open (kept stoppered in the fridge) the wine became smoother and more elegant, with riper flavors mostly of citrus (yellow grapefruit, lemon, slight green lime), some yellow and white melon, still a little texture to the taste, and acid on the stronger side but not quite crisp.  I was certainly satisfied with my purchase.

The second night, however, the wine is very good, showing similar flavors but more forward, integrated and more obviously complex.  It definitely moves from Drinkable to Thumbs Up!

Mil Piedras 2013 Viognier

Mendoza, Argentina; 14% ABV
$4 at the Richmond, CA, store a few weeks ago

MilPiedras_2013_ViognierI recently liked pretty well the Argentinian Budeguer Chardonnay, which I found to be an interesting version of the grape.  It had some ripe fruit, but also crisp acid and minerally structure.  I was hoping this would would be a similar version of Viognier, and my verdict is, “Well, sort of…”  🙂

The fruit certainly shows Viognier’s yellow peach, and some white / light yellow melon, elegantly integrated with fairly crisp acid and a little minerality.  I think the wine would be quite good except for a noticeable excess of stemmy bitterness.  It wasn’t too bad, but it did stop me from thinking it was really tasty.

The next day, I liked it a little better, with the fruit more forward and balancing of the bitterness, but still was not something I was wild about.

Budeguer 2013 Chardonnay Reserva

Mondoza, Argentina; 13.5% ABV
$5 at the Richmond, CA, store about a week ago

Budeguer_2013_ChardResThis wine’s nice packaging and recent vintage made it look quite promising.  It was not really what I expected, but it was pretty good if you want a crisp and structured Chardonnay.

The fruit does have some nice ripeness to it, showing yellow apple and pear, but the acid is quite crisp, with a fairly strong minerally structure.  I’ve been hesitant to recommend it to California Chardonnay drinkers, but some people have responded positively to this description.  About this wine, G. L. Pease wrote:

I quite liked it, though it’s likely not going to appeal to the California Chardonnay lover, nor will it confuse the Chablis or Mâcon fan. Quite a different thing. Bright, citrusy, a little toasty, minerallic. Restrained ripe pear with an interesting almondy thing going on. I’d guess it to be fermented in barrel, giving it some nice oakiness that’s not overblown, and no one went crazy with the MLF [malolactic fermentation]. No butterbomb here, but enough weight and richness to work well with richer foods. This ain’t your shellfish quaffer. It would stand up nicely to sheeps milk cheeses, fattier cuts of pork (not too heavily seasoned), maybe salmon.

The next day, the rest in the bottle was more smooth and integrated, but otherwise much the same.

Zolo 2012 “Gaucho Select” Bonarda

Mendoza, Argentina; 13.8% ABV
$4 at the Richmond, CA, store on 15 Sept

Zolo_2012_BonardaThis wine is pretty tasty from first pour, but gets downright delicious after about 45 minutes of air.  It shows somewhat tangy and earthy, dark red / medium purple fruit of cherry / plum, grape, and raspberry, and a little aromatic spice.  Although not strongly structured, the taste is nicely delineated.  It made me think that this is what you drink while waiting for the Las Huertas Cabernet to air.  🙂

The next day, the second half (stoppered in a 375ml bottle with very little air) was more simple, acid, and robust, still very flavorful and yummy, tasting more of blackberry / tar, and reminding me a good bit of Petite Sirah.  IMO, although you shouldn’t think of aging it, this is a heck of a bottle for $4.

Juana de Sol 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva

Mendoza, Argentina; 13.5% ABV
$5 at the Berkeley, CA, store on 29 June

(Sorry, I forgot to photograph this bottle before recycling it.)  This wine seemed promising, seeming to have nice fruit buried beneath a good bit of tannin.   Even after two hours of air in a decanter, however, the wine still was not very open, showing mostly candy-like tartness and tannin.  After 2.5 hours, it darkened to blackberry / dark boysenberry, funky tar, and still finishing with strong tannin and strongish acid.

The next day, the wine was more open and integrated, with rich ripe fruit, tannins and acid.  It’s pretty substantial — showing flavors of purple plum / plum skin, dark red / purple cherry, and dark earth — if not all that complex or pleasurable.  I’d guess it would still benefit from more age.