Although one of Argentina’s trump cards is its Malbec grape, the South American nation also holds a strong hand when it comes to its wine experts. Earlier this year, Argentine sommelier Paz Levinson represented her country at the 14ème Concours A.S.I. du Meilleur Sommelier du Monde in Tokyo, reaching the semi-finals – no mean feat considering she was up against some of the finest noses in the business. Here is her top five selection of Argentine wines for 2013.
1. Riglos Quinto Sauvignon Blanc 2012, Bodega Riglos. This wine is made from grapes that grow in a great place – Uco Valley. Vines grow in rocky soil and there’s no winery, just hectares of vineyards for premium wine and a farmhouse with a clay oven. It’s as simple as that. When the wine is made it has aromas such as yeast, grapefruit and passion fruit. Fermented until it’s dry (no sugar), it has citrus and mineral flavours. Ideal with a marinated salmon starter or salads with fresh goat’s cheese.
2. Montesco Punta Negra Pinot Noir 2011, Passionate Wine. A Pinot Noir from the mountains made in a 1940s cask that was refurbished by the village cooper, this wine has all the characteristics that one hopes for with an Argentine Pinot Noir but offers more. It’s delicate, with red-fruit aromas and flavours. It also has a damp side, like forest floors, that makes it so intriguing. The wood is subtle, there’s a light touch that hints at tobacco. Don’t think twice about buying it because its price is very reasonable for the quality it offers.
3. Tito 2010, Familia Zuccardi. One of 2013’s great launches! This wine is made by a young oenologist who aims to make wines that are tastier and more elegant every year. This blend is named after his grandfather. He used classic grapes such as Malbec (for the most part) and Cabernet Sauvignon as well as a little Caladoc, an innovative grape for Argentina. Added to those is a smidgen of a white to perfume and fix the colour. This wine has a unique freshness, cassis and mature plums, a touch of spice and mineral notes such as graphite.
4. Mainqué Merlot 2010, Bodega Chacra. Like a Hitchcock film, this wine is elegant, aloof, but in charge of resolving an enigma: Merlot from Río Negro could be the best in Argentina. An intense wine, it has sufficient structure to handle time passing by, balanced acidity and tobacco leaf and menthol notes. With regards to its time in oak, this wine is treated delicately with high-quality, non-invasive wood. Its tannins are firm yet mature, which makes it ideal for accompanying a Patagonian rack of lamb.
5. 33 de Dávalos 2011, Bodega Tacuil. Wine from Tacuil is unique: vines are planted at an altitude of 2,567 metres above sea level, with the unpolluted air and a lack of humidity and plagues. This wine can be stored for 15 years due to its balanced acidity, alcohol and concentration of fruit – but if drunk today, it will be young and vibrant. De terroir, without any oak, it has flavours and aromas that are a reminder of the north: peppers, dried tomatoes and sun.