Let us take our tour of Argentine Malbec down south to Patagonia, where yes, Argentina produces cool climate Malbecs with very different characteristics than Mendoza Malbec. The altitude as you pass into Patagonia, Argentina goes down a bit but is still very high for vineyard regions on a world scale at about 1500 feet (500 meters) above sea level. What you get down in Neuquen and Rio Negro, the two wine making provinces of Argentine Patagonia is a cooler climate with less sunshine and different soils.
The vineyards of Familia Schroeder are in the San Patricio de Chanar Valley in the northwest of the Neuquen province. As is true in the rest of the viticulture region of Argentina, the defining characteristic in Patagonia is the Andes Mountains. The Andes provides the rain shadow for the vineyards in Patagonia, leaving them dry for over 300 days per year. At the same time, though, the fresh run-off water from the Andes provides fresh water irrigation to the vineyards and allows high quality wine grapes to flourish. The reliance on irrigation actually creates an easy way to force water stress upon the vines, which has the tendency to lower yields, which is good for wine grapes. Lower yield wine grapes basically are more concentrated grapes: they are smaller in overall size and have less water, which means they have a higher concentration of sugar, tannin, acid and polyphenol, the key ingredients for making the flavor, texture and color of wine ideal.
The Saurus Malbec is no exception and really shows an intense deep color. The cooler climate and lower altitude show through a bit here with mint and eucalyptus notes in the nose, along with the characteristic plum nose that Malbec is known for. In the mouth the tannic structure of this red malbec wine is not to be ignored. If put at a wine tasting in Buenos Aires, this would likely be the wine you taste last because of its powerful structure.
Again this wine is a selection for those looking for something different. Malbec from Patagonia can come in many forms as well, this has 40% in oak for 12 months, and its a good thing they don’t use more than that as it would easily become over oaked. It should cost around 15 dollars per bottle, and is a relatively good value, but can be too harsh for many drinkers at this price point, as the wine could be considered tannic. It is nice for those who like a sturdy malbec wine though.
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