January 25, 2011
It’s hard to believe, sitting here in my flat in London, all wrapped up in a heavy jumper and wearing thick socks, that a little over a week ago I was frolicking in the waves and stretching out on the beach in Argentina. Like all holidays, that one had to come to an end and so I find myself flipping through my slideshow on my laptop, hardly believing that I was basking in the sun such a short time ago. Like any wineblogger worth her salt, I took pics of most of the wines we had and even though they were not top of the line, we were at the beach, upon reflection I realized that they were very good value for money.
This being Argentina, a land of good, affordable wine, you can walk into any supermarket or even corner shop and find awall of wine. Photo: morcilla (blood sausage) and chorizo, good w/wine. Granted, it might not be the best and sometimes, storage conditions are not exactly ideal but for around £3-£5, you can get a decent wine to go along with your pizza or pasta. It being summer, the days are long and we often didn’t get home from the beach til past 8. Bear in mind that in Villa Gesell, where we were staying, the shops have some archaic rule that they cannot sell wine after 9pm! You can imagine the rush then upon returning home, jump into the shower to wash off the sand and then a quick run into town to pick up a bottle before they stopped selling wine. I know, you’re probably thinking, why didn’t you just buy a case at the beginning of the week but what fun is that? The SAME wine every night? No thanks. Plus, I got to check out the different stocks of various shops.
The first night was when we discovered that stupid rule but luckily, we found a restaurant that would sell us a bottle of wine takeaway. The Fond de Cave 2009 Malbec from Mendoza, was the most expensive wine we bought all week, coming in at £6.50. I later found out that the restaurant charged us retail price and I even saw it at a more expensive price at a shop in town. Full bodied and lots of earthy fruitiness with a hint of tobacco on the finish, a good wine for the first night.
We decided to be a bit adventurous with our selections. We picked up a 2010 tannat from Salta by Elementos. Salta is better known for their torrontes but this tannat was delicious. Loads of black plums and prunes, spicy and brambly as well with a bitter chocolate finish. Washed down those meat empanadas (meat pies, kinda like Cornish pasties – KINDA). All that for £4, it’s easy to get spoiled in Argentina.
Norton is a very well known brand in Argentina, again from Mendoza, producing mid-level malbecs but rather then take the easy way out, we went for a barbera, the 2010 Norton. It’s an Italian varietal, Barbera d’Asti and Barbera d’Alba being the most well known. Acidic but not thin, a good wine to have with food, the Norton was a bit more fleshy but still crisp and, of course, matched perfectly with pizza.
Next night we moved to La Rioja, Argentina for our wine selection because I’d found a wine from San Huberto winery. La Rioja is known as a bulk wine producer in Argentina. The province is located to the south of Mendoza where they plant the usual malbec, cabernet, syrah, merlot, etc. It has the same climate and altitude as Mendoza, as a matter of fact, San Huberto is situated at 1400 mtrs in La Rioja, higher then many Mendozan wineries. We bought a basic blend, the San Huberto 2009 cabernet-syrah, a surprisingly light wine, I was expecting a heavier wine but that was alright by me. Lots of red fruits upfront with some pepper and chocolate on the finish, not a bad wine at all.
We jumped down to Patagonia the next night, a wine from Bodega del Fin del Mundo, a Postales del fin del Mundo merlot 2010. Patagonian merlot is quite unique, fruity but not jammy with round tannins thrown in for good measure. I liked it because it was exactly opposite of the often oppressive merlots that come from the New World.
Pequena Vasija is the entry level wine from the long established winery Don Felipe Rutini, maker of highly respected wines in Argentina. They used to bottle their entry level wines in these rather horrid squat round bottles, similar in style to Mateus but now they’ve modernized and I didn’t even realize the brand, La Rural, until I got home. Another cabernet-syrah blend, this time from Mendoza, not the best example. I wish Rutini would put a bit more effort into it’s entry level otherwise, why bother? Dry, hints of black fruit but overall a bit astringent and let’s just say we drank it because the shops were closed already!
All in all an interesting little foray into the supermarket wines of Argentina. I did drink beer on the beach but when you’re in Argentina, it’s hard not to drink wine, especially at such affordable prices.
What’s the saying? Beer before wine and everything’s fine,no?