Last weekend I spent one entire day watching rugby. I like the sport; I know the national Argentinean rugby team is called ‘Pumas’, I follow the Rugby World Cup when it’s on, I’ll even leave the local rugby matches on TV from time to time but I would not classify myself as such a fanatic that I yearn to spend 8 hours with my eyes fixated on the field (and a nice bum or two!). However, Senor Rico, ‘el novio’ is crazy for it; watching, playing, buying rugby claptrap, the whole shebang! Hence, myself having to go watch him (and his club) play.
Luckily it was a nice day; we got some sun and fresh air, we cheered and jeered and we chatted with his friends. As I finally have gained a level of Spanish where I converse more than ‘como estas?’ I was able to join in too and after a little chat with one of Senor Ricos’ teammates I discovered that he worked for the boutique winery El Porvenir de los Andes. So our (broken) Spanglish babble moved to subjects like the wine market in Argentina, Argentina wine tastings and so forth. Of course, it was inevitable that he was going to ask me if I had tried any of the El Porvenir wines. ‘Si, por supuesto!’ Lying. Lying. Lying.
The next day I marched myself off to the local vinoteca (wine shop) and bought a bottle of El Porvenir’s Laborum Malbec 2007 at a whooping $120ARS. Clearly, I really felt bad about lying! In Latin, the word Laborum means ‘from work’ a name that El Porvenir felt was suitable for their emblematic wine as it is produced with the utmost care and hard work from manual labour in the vineyard to the bottling and labelling. With their Malbec grown at the Finca Rio Seco estate, located 1,750 meters above sea level and 12 months in new barrels (70% French and 30% American) I was already hedging my bets that this would be an Argentinean wine to be reckoned with so I poured it out and let it rest for half an hour or so.
The colour was a deep, intense ruby red, with bright violet reflections. After the time I had left the wine breathing I was expecting it to be soft and rather complex and indeed it was. The first aromas that crept up my schnoz was something savoury, almost animalistic like leather, with roasted mushrooms, smokiness and toasty notes. The hidden layer of fruits appeared from the back as I swished the glass in front of my nose, dark black notes like blackberry, black cherries and sticky plum. This is the kind of wine I enjoy! Hopefully the taste would not let me down.
The first sip entered with an intense black fruit flavours and dark chocolate attack, like a black forest gateau cake, sweet and edgy, which I found surprising considering that the bouquet was so wonderfully earthy to begin with. The liquid spread through my mouth with its velveteen rounded and plump body, carrying its supple sweet tannins that gave excellent structure without being too heavy and powerful. I almost didn’t want to swallow, it was so luscious and rich but of course, I wouldn’t spit it out. The finish was delightfully long with more of those savory toasty flavours that I was lapping up to start with. After that, I wouldn’t share the bottle with anyone; this was ‘my precious’!
In the 1980’s Italian immigrants Romero-Marcuzzi family relocated their life to the Northern Argentinean province of Salta and there they started a winery in Tolombon, an area 14 kilometers away from the famous wine producing region of Cafayate. Their passion for wines and the wine industry grew and they desired to produce wines from the the Cafayate itself, so in 1999 they bought the already established Bodega El Porvenir de los Andes based in Cafayate Valley. Badly in need of a facelift, they took the task in hand and created the shining new premium El Porvenir winery that it is today, with modern day technology, stainless steel, oak barrels and 192 acres of vineyards planted in two estates; Rio Seco and El Retiro, each having sublime terrior for growing their grapes. Deep, sandy loamy soils, great temperature differential between night and day, high solar radiation, minimal rain fall and hardly any hail, makes for their red varietals to be expressive with great aromatic intensity, deep colours and profound complexity. And my goodness does it show! I will be buying this beautiful wine again, without a thought for the price and the next time I see ‘the teammate’ I will hold my head up high and tell him that yes, I have tried some of your wine and it was flipping marvellous….if I can figure out how to say that in Spanish first!
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