Mendoza, land of Malbec (and more…)

Mendoza

We visited Mendoza in Autumn 2016 and spent 5 days tasting a range of wine. The region – and indeed country – is synonymous with Malbec – but there was so much more on offer…

Located in the eastern foothills of the Andes, in the shadow of Mount Aconcagua, vineyards are planted at the some of the highest altitudes in the world with the average site located 600-1,100 meters above sea level. The principal wine-producing areas fall into two main  departments – Maipu and Luján de Cuyo.. The region also produces good Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, sparkling wines, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc and Torrontes.The Mendoza Province is one of Argentina’s most important wine regions, accounting for nearly two-thirds of the country’s entire wine production.

Mendoza city itself was a little strange… The Argentine economy has been turbulent for years, and in Autumn 2016 prices for hotels, food and wine were slightly more expensive for the UK. Some things like sweets, shoes, perfume and electrical goods were significantly more expensive. As a consequence of these high prices coupled with high unemployment, low pay and it just being South America – crime was high. Armed guards were present in hotel lobbies, on restaurant doors, wandering (empty) shopping malls… This was either unsettling or reassuring – I’m still not sure which. The people we met were all lovely; friendly and keen to share the good things about Argentina – particularly the food and wine.

Malbec

Sales of Malbec are at an all time high in the UK – and deservedly so; it’s good wine and most of the available offerings are well priced (in the UK at least). The UK market leader is Trivento – owned by the mammoth Vina Concha Y Toro company from neighbouring Chile. Founded 21 years ago, Trivento Bodegas y Vinedos produces brand-name wines under their own label. Trivento has become the most diversely distributed Argentine wine brand in the world.

Their UK Malbec offerings consist of  ‘reserve’, ‘golden reserve’ and ‘Para Alta’.

trivento-reserve-malbec
Trivento Reserve Malbec

Tasting Notes:

An intense red. Aromas of cherry and raspberries and notes of vanilla and coconut due to 6 months aged in French oak barrels. Well balanced; sweet tannins and a velvety mouth feel. At £8 this is good wine – but I usually wait until it is discounted to £6 a bottle (which it often is) and buy several bottles!

Region of Origin Mendoza
Wine Colour Red
Price £8 – but often £6
Grape 100% Malbec
Current Vintage 2016
Producer Trivento Bodegas y Vinedos
Type of Closure Screwcap
Wine Maker Maximilliano Ortiz
Pack Quantity 75
Where can I get it? Tesco, widely available elsewhere
Country Argentina
Points 93

We had a wine tasting and then lunch with Maximilliano Ortiz, who had studied winemaking in Chile. He was a very nice guy and good company.

Food Pairings: Perfect when served with spaghetti Bolognese, BBQ meats.

parra-alta
Parra Alta

Tasting Notes:

Vibrant red. Full bodied in style with intense aromas of blackberry and fresh raspberry with subtle vanilla oak. At £5 a bottle this is good wine at an excellent price.

Parra Alta is a traditional way to grow grapes, where the vines are tied to grow upwards through the canopy of the surrounding trees.

Region of Origin Mendoza
Wine Colour Red
Price £5
Where do I get it from? Tesco, available elsewhere.
Current Vintage 2015
Producer Trivento
Type of Closure Screwcap
Pack Quantity 75
Grape 100% Malbec
Country Argentina
Points 92

Food Pairings: Perfect when served with Sunday roasts.

 

trivento-golden-reserve
Golden Reserve Malbec

Trivento Golden Reserve Malbec is Trivento’s most expensive offering widely available in the UK and its price is high chiefly because the grapes are hand-selected and the yields per hectare are significantly lower.

Tasting Notes:

A concentrated garnet-red wine. Complex, fruity and fresh. Both sweetness and gentleness of red and black fruits. Deep notes from oak barrel ageing. Soft tannins and a long and smooth finish. At £15 this is relatively expensive wine but it is a bit special and you get what you pay for…

Region of Origin Mendoza
Price £15
Where do I get it? Tesco, widely available elsewhere
Producer Trivento Bodegas y Vinedos
Type of Closure Natural Cork
Wine Maker German Di Cesare
Pack Quantity 750ml
Grape 100% Malbec
Country Argentina
Points 95

Food Pairings: Perfect when served with a succulent steak or a rich winter stew. We had this wine as our Christmas day red and it went well with turkey and with our cheese board.

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