In recent years it has come to the worlds attention that Malbec, a grape formerly a native of France, has taken off in Argentina. Within the past five years we’ve seen exponential growth in the popularity of this grape all over the world, capturing the hearts of wine drinkers from all walks of life. What most people have yet to discover is that Malbec is just one of several vine varieties in Argentina which produce beautiful fruitful red wines. Including Bonarda, also known as Charbono, and Tempranillo Argentina offers a veritable fruit bowl of flavors including but not limited to currents, red and black cherries, strawberries, plums and blackberries all mixed with a delicious fusion of spices.
In the Mendoza region of Argentina, bodegas Catena Zapata has in recent years been hard at work mixing these three varietals into an excellent blend for drinkers to enjoy. The project falls under their Alamos Winery. The grapes are sourced from the foothills of the east side of the Andes Mountains ranging in elevation from 3000 to 5000 feet. Due to the fact that the Andes prevent rain weather from the Pacific Ocean from occurring on a regular basis the grapes have to be irrigated with streams that are fed directly from the foothill of the mountain range. What this does is it provides a more regular source for water during the growing season as opposed to the variances that you would find when just rain is your irrigation source. The vineyards also have the advantage of full sun and a long growing season because they sit at a higher elevation. This then makes for a more intense and powerful flavor when the grapes are harvested.
The Mendoza region faced several challenges during their 2012 season. Not only where there strong wind storms but there were also some significant frosts which left the growers with a yield much lower than normal. Luckily towards the end of the season there a fair amount of cloud cover gave the grapes a longer time for ripening on the vines.
Alamos 2012 Red Blend used hand picked grapes which were crushed and exposed to a one to two day cold soak prior to fermentation. The skins were kept in tact during the fermenting process and the grapes sat in open and upright tanks for six to seven days. The final blend of Malbec, Bonarda and Tempranillo has a low herbal but also spicy nose. There were notes of blueberries and raspberries that initially caught my attention but then I was flooded with woody vanilla sensation that was slightly overpowering. At the beginning, to taste, the wine is rather light and bright but it quickly changes taking on a more weighty feel mid-palate. There I could taste the more blueberry, blackberry flavor mixing with a well balanced oak sensation although it fell a bit flat for me. At the end it turns a bit dry but the fruit has a nice staying power to it which recovered the tannins nicely. While I wouldn’t rate this as a favorite it offers a nice representation of what Argentina can offer in terms of blends especially for its lower cost.