When we think of Argentinian wines, we think of Malbec – but there are plenty of other interesting grapes to explore. With Argentina’s strong Italian connections, there are a host of Italian grapes from white Fiano to red Barbera, Sangiovese and Corvina – as well as others like the native white Torrontes or French red grape Bonarda:
SUSANNA BALBO SIGNATURE TORRONTES 2021 ***STAR BUY***
£13.95-£15 The Wine Society; Great Wine Co; Fine Wine Musselburgh; Noble Green
The enterprising and highly experienced winemaker Susanna Balbo makes some of Argentina’s best whites. It might seem strange to barrel ferment such an aromatic floral grape as Torrontes – but this wonderful version from Uco valley with floral & peachy nose combined with a luxurious vanilla oaky richness works well – suit those who like white Rhones.
ARGENTO PINOT GRIGIO 2022
£9 Bibendum Wine; Vinvm; Allaboutwine
There are only 440 hectares of Pinot Grigio in Argentina. The style is very different from Italian versions with riper fruit flavours and more character. Argento’s version, made in Mendoza’s desert-like climate and high altitude, is approachable and easy-drinking.
CAELUM FIANO GRAN RESERVA 2017
£16 Vida Wines
From a family-run boutique winery in Mendoza who love experimenting with different grapes. This is an excellent example of the Fiano grape, which hails from Campania region near Naples in Italy. Fermented and matured in 500 litre French oak casks, the oak notes are well balanced. Loved its floral notes, soft gentle smoky oak and minerally backbone.
VINECOL QUINDE TORRONTES 2020
£12.50 St Andrews Wine
From a bodega in La Paz in eastern Mendoza, Vinecol Quinde’s charming version of Torrontes is very typical of the grape. Brimming with floral notes, tangy citric fruit palate and balanced acidity. For those who love crisp easy drinking aromatic whites.
VALLISTO EXTREME BARBERA 2019
£18 Chris Piper Wines; The Whisky Exchange; Selfridges
Fresh vibrant style of the northern Italian grape Barbera, grown at 1900 metres altitude in Cafayate Valley in Salta, one of Argentina’s highest regions. This must be one of the highest grown Barberas anywhere in the world. Loved its cherry fruits, soft silky tannins and zesty mouthwatering acidity.
DURIGUTTI CARA SUCIA CEPAS TRADICIONALES 2018 ***STAR BUY***
£12.95 NY Wines; Hennings Wine £16.50 Harvey Nichols
Hector and Pablo Durigutti have worked in Chile and Italy, now back home in Mendoza they are experimenting with interesting Argentinian grapes. This is from 100% organically grown Bonarda, Syrah, Sangiovese, Cardinale, Beiguinol, Barnera and Buonamico fermented in concrete eggs. Deep coloured, crunchy raspberry fruits and herby notes – it reminds me of a gutsy juicy Gamay from Beaujolais.
BENEGAS FINCA LIBERTAD SANGIOVESE 2015
£24 Highbury Vintners
Sangiovese, the popular Italian grape, used to be much more popular in Argentina, but sadly much has been regrafted to Malbec. This is a great example made from old vines – planted in 1935 on their own roots – in a single vineyard in Cruz de Piedro in upper Mendoza at 850m. Mature cherry fruits, dried tea undertones with smooth velvety tannins.
MASI CORBEC APPASSIMENTO 2017 ***STAR BUY***
£23.99 Taste Argentina; Hic Winemerchants
Amarone meets Argentina – this is a clever blend of Corvina and Malbec made from grapes dried using the ‘appassimento’ method whereby grapes are dried for several weeks creating partial dehydration, concentrating aromas, sugars and flavours. Raisiny rich succulent fruits with an alcohol level similar to Amarone at 15%.
CATENA ZAPATA ANGELICA MALBEC 2018
From proprietary heritage selection of Malbec grown at high altitude from 920m to over 1000m. This is Malbec at its most dense with rich berry fruits, dark chocolate and nutty flavours, balanced alcohol (13.5%) and a savoury saline finish. Matured 24 months in French oak, it is an elegant stylish Malbec named after Catena winery founder’s mother Angelica.
ZUCCARDI VALLES BONARDA 2019 ***STAR VALUE***
£12.50 Hic; The Wine Reserve
Bonarda is a French grape from Savoie called Douce Noir which is widely grown across Argentina. Zuccardi’s Valles version hails from Mendoza’s high Uco valley – with cassis notes, very approachable soft juicy with herby undertones. Very attractive fresh spicy version of the grape.
VINALBA MENDOZA RESERVA MALBEC 2019
£9.99/£12.99 Majestic Wine; £10 Tesco
Herve J Fabre makes an outstanding range of Malbecs from Mendoza to Patagonia, always at approachable prices. This is one of his best value – Mendoza Malbec with rich succulent fruits, dark chocolate notes and sweet spicy undertones.
Join Rose’s Chile v Argentina Masterclass in St Andrews, Fife on Friday 24 February 2023 www.rosemurraybrown.com