What a week!

Thanks to The Vines of Mendoza, Bodega O. Fournier, Park Hyatt, Grupo Clos de los Siete, Lares de Chacras, Bodega El Enemigo, Vina Cobos, Luca Wines, Mendel Wines, Bodega La Azul – Tupungato – Valle De Uco – Mendoza, Bodega Altocedro · La Consulta Mendoza Argentina, and Miravida Soho Hotel & Wine Bar, Buenos Aires for giving their time, their hospitality and their expertise. 

In the coming weeks we’ll be sharing our trip in much greater detail, with photos, video and more. Here are just a few highlights from our trip.

   
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
 

Alfa Crux – Getting reacquainted with an old friend.

4.5 Stars (4.5 / 5)

Alfa Crux Malbec

4.0 Stars (4.0 / 5)

Alfa Crux Blend

4.0 Stars (4.0 / 5)

Beta Crux Blend

Alfa Crux was one of the first wines I fell love with in restaurants visiting Buenos Aires. An unapologetically big, bold, New World red, it was always located near the top of wine lists, and once we tasted it we were hooked.

An even bigger treat was visiting the winery, O. Fournier, on my first trip to Mendoza. It is a stunning, futuristic, gravity-driven winery that has you half thinking the Martians have landed alongside the Andes. It is as beautiful and iconic as the wine itself.


Located inside the winery is the restaurant Urban, helmed by Ortega Gil-Fournier’s wife Nadia. Hoping to eat there on this trip, because I loved her other restaurant, Nadia O.F., when it was located in Chacras de Coria.

Last week I had old friends over to my loft, and as usual, had been extolling the virtues of high-end Argentine wine. I thought of the perfect bottle to pull out.

An old friend, for old friends.


As usual, they were blown away.

Alfa Crux is available in a 100% Malbec and a red blend. Both are stunning. In fact, in a side-by-side tasting at Nadia O.F., I was hard pressed to pick a favorite.

Further down the price chain is their second tier red blend, Beta Crux, which is also delicious for its price point. Expect to pay just over $40 for Alfa Crux in the States, and keep an eye out for Beta Crux in stores like Costco for under $20 from time to time.


 

 

Superb $18 deal on Colomé Estate Malbec

 

4.0 Stars (4.0 / 5)

Colomé Estate Malbec 2010

The best bottle of South American wine you can usually pick up at Whole Foods Market is Colomé Estate Malbec. Owned by the Hess family and sourced from a desert vineyard in Salta, it’s one of my absolute favorites. There’s an elegance to this wine that belies its mid-$20s price.

However, the Whole Foods price of $28 is a terrible value. It’s why I tell people only to buy it during the store’s 20% off sale, when it drops to around $23.

But if you live in a US state that can receive mail-order wine, Ultimate Wine Shop is offering a much better deal. $17.99! With free shipping if you order 4 bottles.

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As a reminder, I don’t sell wine, and I don’t get any kind of financial incentive from the wines I recommend. I figure if I turn you on to great wines at great prices, the karma will come back to me eventually. A world where people are buying less Cigar Box and Diseno is a world I want to live in. If you like what I’m doing, maybe you’ll buy me a bottle sometime.

Can we just talk about Catena for a minute?

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4.0 Stars (4.0 / 5)

Catena Malbec 2012

I mean, regular Catena. Not Catena Alta or Catena Zapata Malbec Argentino or Angelica Zapata or Nicolas Catena Zapata or the other more exotic wines I tend to wax poetically about.

Good old Catena Malbec. The one that is probably on your supermarket shelf for $22. (Unless you’re at Whole Foods Market where it will be a silly $26). The same Catena that you can get for $17 at Costco if you remember to pick some up.

The story has already been far better told by others of how Nicolas Catena transformed Argentine winemaking, so I won’t repeat that here.

I feel like my job on this blog is to make you look beyond the obvious choices. But seriously, if you find this for under $20, Catena Malbec IS the obvious choice. I just opened a bottle, at the proper temperature, used an aerator, and holy crap, this stuff is good. Not just acceptable, but delicious.

I’ve read columns from Luis Gutierrez and other wine experts who say Catena continues to make their whole line better and better. And tonight’s bottle reminds me this is true.

Yes, they have an empire. Yes, they even collaborate with Gallo on a high-distribution wine now. Yes, they have alliances with Rothschild and others. But you have to give credit to a company that despite growth, hasn’t taken their eye off the ball.

To me, Houston’s (maybe Hillstone in your city) is the most reliable, high-quality restaurant chain you can walk into. Everything is going to be good, every time, whether you’re in Atlanta, New York, Boston, or Santa Monica. You just know it’s going to be delicious. And that confidence, adds value. Well, Catena just might be the Houston’s of wine makers. And that is a compliment in my book.