In one of our recent in-house Argentina wine tastings, much to my explicable delight, we were presented with a selection of wines from Vina Las Perdices. I discovered the Mendoza based winery after selecting their Bonarda Reserva at the uber kitsch Vietnamese/Southeast Asian influenced restaurant Green Bamboo in Palermo Hollywood; after the first sip I was greedily guzzling it down as it was being poured into my glass, simultaneously. One delighted raised eyebrow, a nod of the head and some noises of approval came from the direction of the notoriously hard to please (when it comes to wine anyway) Senor Rico and I knew we had a winner sitting in our glasses so, you can probably imagine my glee at the prospect of having such a wide selection of Las Perdices varietals and Reservas lines sitting in front of me ready for the picking; I was pretty much doing my best impression of cat waiting to pounce. The execution of the attack was however intervened by a valuable question, what is a ‘reserva’? Damnation, my wine thievery would have to wait for a few minutes.
Under the Spanish DOC (Denominación de Origen Calificada) wine law, the term Reserva will only be written on a red wine label only if the wine in question has gone through 3 years of aging in oak barrels and bottle with at least 1 year in oak (white wine needs at least 2 years of aging with 6 months in oak to be classified as Reserva), whereas in Argentina, and for that matter many of new world wine countries, the word Reserva does not represent same strict aging rules as they stipulate in Spain. Instead the word indicates what, to some extent, can be almost any Argentinean wine that has undergone a certain level of oak and bottle ageing, whether that be 5 months or 3 years; quite literally it is a wine that is considered a higher quality line in comparison to straight varietals or stainless steel production wines.
However, having said all this I have read from certain sources that Argentina’s wine industry has been working towards tightening the loose boundaries to define a Reserva, an act that was meant to be applied to all wines from the vintage 2011. Apparently Argentine wines from 2011 may only incorporate the terms Reserve or Gran Reserve on their labels if they meet the following requirements: The wines must be produced with a minimum of 135kg of grapes per 100 liters and have a minimum period of ageing of 12months for reds and 6 for white. Hmmm, pretty sure I saw a reserve wine from one unnamed winery that was labeled reserve in 2011 that had 5 months in oak. Things take their sweet time here in Argentina, so maybe the regulation will come into effect next year….or the year after??
So, what better to explore a Reserve then the wine that made be sit up and take note of Bodega Las Perdices; their Bonarda Reserva 2009. This 100% Bonarda was sourced from the prestigious sub-region Argelo in Lujan de Cuyo, Mendoza, Argentina from an 8,000 Kg/H yield producing a limited 10,000 bottles a year. With such small production and 12 months in American and French oak this is one wine that I personally feel comfortable classifying as a reserve! After getting a rather healthy portion of the vibrant red-violet wine, I was diving in within seconds. I didn’t have to dive right into the glass for the aromas to smack me one in the face. Ripe red fruits of cherries, cranberries and just a hint of blueberries starting to creep in on the sides, combined with complex layers of spiciness coming from the oak. Dark black pepper spice and cloves from the French side and sweet vanilla and cinnamon, from the American. Intense, pungent, delicious. The mouth did not disappoint with its soft tannins, full supple mouth-feel, and generous flavors of cherry and dark chocolate spreading through the center palate coming through to a lingering hint of spicy red pepper on the finish. This wine, in my opinion, deserves its ‘reserve’ status, easy drinking but complex, delicate but full bodied, subtleties and richness. Pour me another glass would you?
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