Chances are, you won’t find a bottle of 1977 Malbec on your supermarket shelf. But we were fortunate enough to come across one at Palacio Duhau – the Park Hyatt in Buenos Aires. It was an off-list bottle that the (wonderful) sommelier, Valentina Litman, mentioned that she had in the cellar. You would think that a Malbec from this early era would be an oak bomb – but it was surprisingly supple and complex. This 1977 Cavas de Weinert had notes of plum and leather and a softness almost like a Pinot Noir. A great treat for our first bottle of this Argentinian trip.
Here are the wines we’re drinking right now that are an exceptional value for their price range, vintage after vintage.
Cuvelier Los Andes Colección – The renowned Cuvelier Family is best known in France for their Château Léoville Poyferré, one of the most consistent providers of high-quality Bordeaux in France. Their vintage wines sell for $200 and beyond and have been known to age beautifully for decades. The Cuvelier brought their talents to Argentina’s Uco Valley in conjunction with Michel Rolland’s Clos de los Siete project, determined to prove they could create wines of similar quality. Their Grand Vin ($35) and Grand Malbec ($60) are terrific, but the champion for value is their Coleccion, arguably the best $20 bottle of Argentine red you cay buy.
Tres14 – Trapiche’s chief winemaker Daniel Pi has his own “garage winery” for his personal projects, and the brand is an amusing riff on his last name, as in 3.14. Clever, yes?This bottle is usually in the $50 range, and it’s available at Total Wine.
Tres14 “Imperfecto” – Another Daniel Pi garagista wine, the name Imperfecto is coined from the “contamination” of the Malbec with 3% Cabernet Franc. This absolutely delicious $60 bottle is available in the US at Total Wine.
Catena Appellation Series – Vista Flores and Lunlunta – We hear that these $20 bottles were originally intended to be exclusive to restaurants, but somewhere along the way the plan changed and they’re now available in select retail stores. Bodega Catena Zapata does a beautiful job in every price range – perhaps no one has invested more in science and research to understand the Argentine terroir. We’re particular fans of the Lunlunta version, if you can find it in your store.
Cheval des Andes – You won’t find a more worthy splurge than this $90 wine, a joint venture between Argentine wine giant Terrazas de los Andes and France’s Château Cheval Blanc. This is as serious as winemaking gets in South America, and spends 15 to 18 months in oak barrels. Cheval des Andes has been getting added finesse in the last few years. If you prefer a big wine for steak, look for the 2010 and 2011 bottles and if you want something more balanced and elegant, look into the later vintages. We’ve seen 2011 bottles at Green’s in Atlanta for as little as $55.
For the past ten years, I've loved exploring and learning about Argentine wine, and I'm just getting started! Who would have thought that a random vacation to Buenos Aires would turn into 10 trips to Argentina, leading my first group trip to Mendoza, and interviews with some of the country's top winemakers? Man, it's been fun.
Want to see what we brought back from the most recent trip? As I’ve said before, you can often get Argentinian wines at similar prices in the states. For that reason I focus on Argentina-only bottles, limited editions, and exceptional values I happen to come across. ... See MoreSee Less
The daily chef special at Restaurant UCO in Buenos Aires. Organic eggs, zucchini, eggplant, and sun dried tomato. Still the best breakfast I have had in Argentina. I would show you the impossibly perfect medialuna and house-made granola and organic yogurt, but I already destroyed them. ... See MoreSee Less
La Morada is still one of my favorite places to stay in the Uco Valley. Comfortable accommodations, homemade breakfast, and enviable views of the Andes make for the start of a perfect day in wine country. ... See MoreSee Less
Absolutely epic visit with the winemaking team at Cuvelier Los Andes. One of my favorite spots on earth. If anyone in South America is making better quality for the price, I haven’t tasted it. ... See MoreSee Less
When the top winemaker at one of the world’s largest wineries agrees to spend two hours with you, it’s a helluva start to your Mendoza trip. My interview with Daniel Pi of Bodega Trapiche and Tres14 and his understudy, Sergio Casè, coming soon. Sneak preview: Bottles were uncorked back to 1978! ... See MoreSee Less
If you visit Duhau restaurant at Buenos Aires’ Park Hyatt, ask and the sommelier will likely have a few bottles that are off the list. Never had a Malbec this many years old, but it’s surprisingly complex and wonderful. A nice acidity and brightness you wouldn’t expect from the earlier era. ... See MoreSee Less
Posted on March 18, 2019March 18, 2019 by stephenMalbecsOnly Honor Roll – Spring 2019 Here are the wines we’re drinking right now that are an exceptional value for their price range, vintage after vintage. Cuvelier Los Andes Colección – The renowned Cuvelier Family is best known in France for...
Very, very good. Elegant and substantial, clearly made with great finesse. Favorite wine of one of my hosts. Robert Parker himself reviewed this (95 points) and says, “The 2014 Mekarra Proprietary Red is a Cheval Blanc-like blend of 52% Merlot and 48% Cabernet Franc from his vineyard in Knights Valley. It is a sexy, open-knit, expansive and savory style of wine, with loads of Christmas fruitcake, licorice, black cherry and blackcurrant jam, a touch of asphalt, and a long, full-bodied, voluptuously textured finish. It is very much in keeping with the easygoing but alluring and sexy style of the 2014s in Northern California. Drink it over the next 15 or more years.”
If you've wondered what going to Argentina wine country is like, there's a wonderful new series on Amazon Prime - "It Starts With Wine" - and episode 2 features Laura Catena in Mendoza. It's very well shot, and you see some really nice footage of the country and its traditions. ... See MoreSee Less
In this first season, we travel to Uruguay, Argentina & California to meet some of the world's best winemakers, growers and personalities, along with chefs and celebrities, to offer an inside look at the cultures that surround the wine lifestyle.
Paul Hobbs’ Bramare line includes these regional versions, and then a more expensive, single-vineyard line. Both are excellent for their price point. This bottle retails for around $40 USD. ... See MoreSee Less
First he was the wine manager of the UK's Gaucho restaurant chain who was bold enough to go to an all-Argentinean wine list. Now he's the brand ambassador for Wines of Argentina. Get to know Phil Crozier.
Its people. Its personality. Its energy and curiosity. Its openness to the outside world. A combination of the old and the new. A great winemaking history. It has a story that needs telling. I find that new winemakers are very keen to tell this story through their wines.
Tanto con el Catena Zapata Adrianna Vineyard River Stones 2016, de la bodega Catena Zapata, como con el Gran Enemigo Single Vineyard Gualtallary Cabernet Franc 2013, de su proyecto Aleanna (compartido con Adrianna Catena), el enólogo mendocino Alejandro Vigil ha obtenido el puntaje perfecto, seg...
"Alejandro Magno": Vigil achieved 100 Parker points with two of his wines - June 29, 2018
With the Catena Zapata Adrianna Vineyard River Stones 2016, from the Catena Zapata winery, as well as the Great Enemy Single Vineyard Gualtallary Cabernet Franc 2013, from his Aleanna project (shared with Adrianna Catena), the Mendoza winemaker Alejandro Vigil has obtained the perfect score , according to La Nación.
Moreover, in the top ten of the list are six wines of his authorship, how you can see below:
100 pts Catena Zapata Adrianna Vineyard River Stones 2016
100 pts Great Enemy Single Vineyard Gualtallary Cabernet Franc 2013
99 pts. Per Se La Craie 2016
98+ pts. Per Se La Craie 2015
98 pts. White Stones Chardonnay 2016
98 pts. Zuccardi Family Finca Piedra Infinita 2015
98 pts. Great Enemy Single Vineyard Gualtallary Cabernet Franc 2014
98 pts. Catena Zapata Adrianna Vineyard River Stones 2014
97+ pts. Noemía 2016
97 pts. Chakra 55 2017
"It is a recognition of the region, a recognition of Argentina," he told La Nación Vigil, after learning about the scores. "It is, in addition, the proposal of work that I have carried forward in the last 20 years, thinking of Argentina and thinking of the terroir," he added.
The review of Argentine wines 2018 published in Wine Advocate was prepared by the critic Luis Gutiérrez, after tasting more than 1,200 Argentine wines. Until now, no Argentine wine had obtained 100 points from the magazine created by the influential critic Robert Parker.
Pulled out this rare South American beauty tonight to enjoy with the Coravin. Five different varietals from seven different vineyards across Mendoza. Vines ranging from 6 to 87 years of age, aged 18 months in new French oak. Delicious blend. ... See MoreSee Less
An Excellent Blend, mostly unavailable in the USA. The regular Encuentro varietals are more widespread, but it’s this blend and a 100% Pinot sparkler that are the two best offerings from this line of Wines.
Looks great. Stephen, how do you like your Coravin? I’ve been looking at them but have yet to decide which model.
Thanks to Joanna Morris Hurley for this tip. We can't believe how much Argentina's currency has devalued. Even since our #MalbecsOnly2018 trip in March, the currency has dropped from 20/1 US Dollar to 24.45 (as of today).
Sad for our many friends down there, but it does create some opportunity for wine buyers and visitors.
Posted on May 24, 2018May 24, 2018 by stephenPlummeting Peso creating even more value for Argentina visitors? The Points Guy just published a piece that suggests this is one of the best times to visit Argentina in years. We are amazed that even since our #MalbecsOnly2018 trip in March, the currency....
After 10 days on the road in Mendoza and Buenos Aires, it's fair to say our #MalbecsOnly2018 group have have been no strangers to indulgence.
Lavish meals, incredible tastings, inspiring sites, too many memories, a photo cloud that's bursting at the seams. After a while, it can all become a bit of a blur. Which is why it takes a truly unusual hotel to stand out - which is what we have found at the Fierro Hotel Boutique Buenos Aires in the Palermo Hollywood barrio.
In our experience in Argentina, there are intimate boutique hotels that are warm and welcoming (like Casa Glebinias and Miravida Soho), and there are giant hotels (like the Four Seasons and Park Hyatt) that offer 5-star indulgence and posh amenities.
The Fierro brilliantly bridges that gap. From homemade scones, the trip's best medialunas, and impossibly fresh homemade organic yogurt to the rooftop pool, huge contemporary rooms (4 to a floor) with wet bar, fully-stocked wine refrigerator and Nespresso machine; comfortably huge dual-nozzle showers with enough glorious water pressure to wash a small vehicle, and the on-point front desk team, the Fierro is the kind of place where you would love to just check in for a few months and let the rest of the world take care of itself.
The cuisine at UCO Restaurant, the onsite restaurant, arguably justifies its ranking among BA's best restaurants. Chef Edward Holloway has developed a menu that respects Argentine tradition without being slavish to it - there are cues from Peru and other South American countries. The trophy dish is Patagonian lamb shoulder slow cooked for 18 hours, and it's as good as it sounds. The South American paellas are more like dense broth-cooked risottos than the yellow rice dishes we've come to identify with Spain. We tried both the rabbit paella and the Peruvian seafood rice dish and both were among the favorite bites of our travels.
The wine list, quite simply, rocks. Premium bottles, reasonably priced and thoughtfully curated. No, you're not going to find as many $4000 bottles here as the Park Hyatt. (But really, unless you were planning to sell an organ, you'll find more than enough to hold your interest here.)
We attended a free wine tasting at the Vinoteca, the attached wine shop, and despite having just returned from 12 winery visits in Mendoza (this is where we receive the grapes, this is where we fill the tanks, blah, blah, blah), the information offered by Manuel (complete with charts, maps, and photographs) was fresh, relevant and added to our depth of understanding of Argentinean wine.
This is also the most time we've spent in Palermo Hollywood (through the years I've always been partial to Palermo Soho) and have discovered that this neighborhood has charms of its own. Fewer designer clothing stores, yes, but a little more chill - and maybe a bit more of a genuine neighborhood feel (think Tribeca as opposed to Soho.)
We invited longtime friends from Buenos Aires over to the hotel for dinner, and al fresco dining at Uco served as the perfect backdrop for our happy reunion.
We are LOVING our first stay at Fierro Hotel Boutique Buenos Aires. The restaurant, Uco, is among the best in the city and the breakfasts are legendary, with daily specials and what may be the world’s fresher homemade yogurt. More photos and info on this wine-centric boutique hotel soon. ... See MoreSee Less
Catena on Twitter “Over 26 million users voted in @Vivino’s 2018 #WineStyle Awards, recognizing the best and most beloved wines from around the 🌎. Immensely honoured to have received the distinction of #Vivino’s Most Awarded Winery - a triumph for us, and for Argentine Wine. 🇦🇷🍷 #CatenaDream https:/... ... See MoreSee Less
Próximamente: ¡nuestra primera gira grupal! Siga # malbecsonlytour2018 para fotos y publicaciones.
Stephen Curry lidera este mes a un grupo de buenos amigos de #Mendoza #Argentina y (si no nos matamos entre nosotros) este será el primero de muchos viajes grupales de Malbecs.
En la agenda:
Degustaciones sorpresa, invitados y actividades. Las mejores bodegas como Catena Zapata, Clos de los Siete, Bodega Flechas de los Andes, Viña Cobos, Bodegas Salentein. Comida increíble de la aclamada chef Nadia Haron, Bodega Lagarde, La Azul Resto y más.
Catena’s appellation series continues to impress us with its quality and value. Our personal favorite: the Lunlunta Malbec 2014. You definitely get the dark and red berry aromatics they describe on the label. As well as the “lengthy mid-palate and ripe silky finish.” ... See MoreSee Less
Enjoying the last of Thanksgiving weekend with good friends and this really nice blend from Riglos. 21 months in French oak. Lordy! But after decanting it reveals notes of anise and a beautiful flavor. ... See MoreSee Less
First let me say, it was my fault I got lost. Very lost.
As in, by myself at 11 pm in the dark on dirt roads lost. Not one electric light anywhere on the horizon.
As in, upset man on a motorcycle chasing me to tell me I was trespassing, lost.
It's indeed possible to run away to the end of the world, to a paradise where no one can find you.
But first, you have to find it.
La Morada de los Andes gives you excellent directions. They tell you not to use Google Maps, or Apple Maps. But do we Gringos listen? Noooooooo.
Welcome to the boundaries of civilization, where your faith in technology has to be surrendered. And your faith in humanity can be restored.
Because Marcela was waiting up to make me empanadas. At 9 PM, at 10 PM, at 11 PM. Way past her bedtime. Way past when she was supposed to go home.
My last-minute plans for Mendoza started with reservations for the usual places. Mendoza City, or Chacras. But after briefly visiting the Uco Valley and staying at the Vines of Mendoza, I longed to return.
The Vines is amazing. But $800/night just isn't a reality for some of us. So using Google Maps, I set out to find a place that could give me similar views, in a similar setting.
TripAdvisor confirmed that this little place called La Morada was getting stellar reviews.
And I could tell it was right across the street from The Vines. Well, sort of. If you mean down two miles of unmarked, private dirt roads is across the street.
(Roads that both Google and Apple refuse to include in their mapping. Since you have an entire world to run away from, maybe it's for the best.)
La Morada is a modern, welcoming guesthouse with every convenience, set in the middle of a burgeoning vineyard project. Its four rooms may be the most comfortable way to experience the solitude of the Uco Valley.
And if you get lost like me? Put The Vines of Mendoza in your GPS. Pull up to the guard gate, and they'll point you towards the entrance, just a hundred yards down the street. That's what finally did it for me. ... See MoreSee Less
And this visit to Mendoza was no exception. Which leads to my visit to SuperUco.
This particular visit to Mendoza wasn't particularly well-planned. I just sort of, showed up.
Despite my lack of planning, my driver from La Morada de los Andes was able to make things happen: "We have a tasting at SuperUco. But we have to be there in TEN MINUTES!"
We scrambled into the truck and I made it over to the last seat at a tasting that was well underway.
It didn't take two minutes for the coincidences to kick in. I was surrounded by a table of Americans. Not just Americans, but fellow Atlantans. We discovered common friends, common interests, and the conversation flowed as freely as the wine that was being generously poured by the Michelini family.
The renegade Michelini brothers are known for pushing the boundaries of Argentine wine, as evidenced by their labels Zorzal and Passionate Wines. They were the first in the region to experiment with egg-shaped concrete tanks, when everyone else was still dumping everything into oak barrels.
But it's SuperUco, a surreal, modernist building that houses a completely biodynamic bodega near Tunuyán, that is their true realization of a dream: an uncompromising taste of the terroir of the Uco Valley.
Chickens and other farm animals roam freely among the grapes, leaving their "presents" to fertilize their two hectares of soil.
Here the brothers Michelini are making wines from high-altitude vineyards in Gualtallary, Los Chacayes, and Altamira, ranging from 3,000 to 4,500 feet. The alluvial and colluvial soils are the result of erosion from the pre-Andes of millions of years ago.
As the English translation of their website puts it "the roots grow embraced to the stones, from which they take the nutrients and their unique character."
Enough with the geology lesson. How do the wines taste? Freaking great.
In fermentation here, the wines here never touch stainless steel. They are in materials like concrete, and wood. Whenever there is a natural option, the Michelinis opt for it. They use indigenous yeasts. They never filter the wine. They never use sulfates, or overextract.
It's an uncompromising approach that results in wines with a personality all their own. They've even trained every vine into a heart shape, the vineyard's personal signature.
In the States, you can find wines ranging from Calcareo Rio de Los Chacayes at around $35 to Calcareo Granito Malbec for about $75. Only in Argentina can you purchase their icon wines, the top of the line Genitori Gualta and Genitori Mio ($175).
One can always debate how much a top wine should cost, but the answer of course is to try them for yourself, and decide just how much a taste of freedom is worth. ... See MoreSee Less
A lot of high-end malbec lovers know about the famed old-vine Marchiori Vineyard, where Paul Hobbs and his Vina Cobos partners, Andrea Marchiori and Luis Barraud, source Bramare Marchiori, Cobos Malbec, and Cobos Volturno. What you may not know is that Hobbs’ partners in the Cobos project have a far less expensive wine from the same vineyard. Here one of my new friends, Alejandro Soler of Malambo Vinoteca Almacen Criollo in Buenos aires tells us the story of the Bramare wines, and an interesting less expensive alternative. #malbec #mendoza #video #wine #Argentina
As you probably know by now, the wine bar at Palacio Duhau has one of the best selections of Argentinean wine in the country, including such icons as Cobos Malbec, in an absolutely enviable setting.
But for our money, one of the best experiences was this very early vintage blend from Fabre Montmayou. The 2001 Grand Vin contains a blend of malbec, cabernet and merlot planted in 1908. It’s aged in 100% French oak barrels, and 16 years in bottle has done beautiful things for this wine. It was so good that while sitting on the patio, we immediately went searching for more on Wine Searcher.
Alas – this vintage is impossible to get in the States – or as far as we can tell, anywhere in Argentina but the Park Hyatt!
So when you’re here – don’t miss the chance to enjoy a bottle.
Fabre Montmayou was founded in the early 90s by Hervé Joyau Fabre, one of a number of acclaimed French winemakers who early on saw the potential of Mendoza. You can read more about his wines here.
One of the highlights of last season’s trip to Mendoza was our personal tasting at Paul Hobbs’ partnership in Argentina, Viña Cobos. Our host, Victoria Bravo, could not have been any more welcoming. She offered details about the entire line of wines, from Felino (approx $20 US) to Bramare ($40-80+ US) to Cobos Malbec and Cobos Volturno ($200+). We were able to taste the whole range of wines with the exception of, understandably, Cobos! We’re not going to win any awards for iPhone cinematography, but you’ll get an authentic feel for what it’s like taste the wines at one of Argentina’s greatest wineries.
This clip is long – 43 minutes! (Follow the captions to get to the sections you’re most interested in.) If you like what you see on this blog, be sure to like us on Facebook for frequent updates on Argentinian wine.