One red wine varietal that always seems to surprise customers in our Buenos Aires wine tastings is Syrah. Possibly because of what Argentinean wine is exported abroad, nearly 50% of it is Malbec, thus leading the general wine consuming public to believe that Malbec is ALL that Argentina can grow. Malbec is considered, by most, the national grape of Argentina and takes a huge cut of the total red grapes produced here at 25.88% but what about the other 75%? Bonarda comes in second at 18.58%, Cabernet Sauvginon third at 17.89% and fourth, would you believe it, Syrah at 12.75%.
Even myself, living in Argentina and being a bit of wino, I must admit that I don’t tend to see an awful lot of Syrah even though production rates are really are quite high. So, recently I have taken it upon myself to specifically pick out Argentinean Syrahs in order to see what I’ve been missing out on. No better place to start than one of Argentina’s leading brands, Finca Flichman.
Finca Flichman, originally family run establishment, was founded in 1873 in Barrancas, Maipu, Mendoza by a Polish Jewish immigrant named Sami Flichman, who took a chance on the dry rocky riverbed of Mendoza and started to produce his inky wines. For over a century the winery flourished and eventually in 1998 it was purchased by Sogrape, an internationally famed Portuguese winery owned by the Guedes Family whom restored, developed and expanded the winery into the, quite frankly, humongous, modern day well-oiled machine it is today. With three additional wineries based in Carroldilla, Perdriel and Junin, Finca Flichman has the capacity to produce 24 million litres and 16,000 bottles per hour; this is according to their website, I’m not sure I quite believe them though!
Finca Flichman currently produces 8 different lines of wine ranging from simple youthful wines to super premium and also a sparkling rose. I went for their mid-range wine ‘Gesto’ (gestures) which is produced in only 3 different varietals (Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah). Like the name (and the label) suggest, this Finca Flichman wine has a rather interesting concept; to express the different characteristics of two Mendoza terriors (Barrancas and Tupungato) in one single grape varietal. 50% of the grapes are from Barrancas at 700 meters above sea level, an area which allows the grape to develop and ripen fully, therefore producing deep colour and body, while the other 50% of grapes come from Tupungato, one of the most elevated regions of Mendoza, grown at 1,100m above sea level, bringing freshness, structure and complexity to the wine.
Of course, I chose their 2010 Syrah aged 6 months in American and French oak, with a further 4 months aging in bottle. The colour (evidently from the portion of grapes from Barrancas) was indeed a gloriously deep regal purple but would the aroma contain all that complexity of the terrior of Tupungato? Well, not in my opinion, no. It was a very pleasant aroma, don’t get me wrong; lively and youthful, lots of fresh red fruit and berries, a distinct candied aroma of boiled strawberry sweets and a hint of tangy spice but there were no other hidden layers to discover while the wine developed with a little bit of breathing time.
The mouth was not disappointing but nothing outstanding either. It had a great full, rounded body and sweet tannins but unfortunately, for all the acidity it may have retained from those cool nights in the high altitude zone Tupungato, it seemed ever so slightly tart, possibly even unbalanced. The sweet, pretty bouquet carried through on the mouth with more of a peppery zing on the medium finish, which was very pleasant and quite savoury unlike some of the huge powerful and almost painful peppery notes that you can find in Australian Shiraz. Even though it was was an enjoyable, easy drinking glass I couldn’t help but think how I would have loved to gobble up some grub with the Syrah Gestos 2010, maybe a big game rabbit stew, Caribbean curried goat or even four cheese sorrentinos with a spicy tomato sauce. The acidity of the tomato would help soften the high acidity of the wine, while the peppery notes would match up to the spice perfectly which would also cut through the high acidity.
A bottle of Finca Flichman Gestos will set you back $35Ars.
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