Wine of the Andes

by Abi

Malbec is most certainly the first wine that would pop into your head when you start to think about South American wines. Malbec has its place in the wine world and especially around the Andes, but there are many other grapes that thrive in Argentina, Chile and Uruguay. This tasting aimed to showcase other varietals, and if any of them stood up to replace malbec as Alberta’s most loved red varietal.

A Los Vinateros Bravos Granitico Bianco
Leonardo Erazo created “A Los Vinateros Bravos” winery in the heart of the Itata region in the south of Chile. The vines of Itata thrive in this steep hilly landscape without irrigation. Bush vines are very old in this region, and finding 100-year-old vines is common here. The volcanic and granitic soil provide an extraordinary environment for root growth resulting in very healthy vineyards. Leonardo doesn’t interfere with the terroir in order to bring a strong sense of place into the bottle. Winemaking is simple, using only native yeast and cement tank for fermentation and ageing. These are authentic wines, full of life, vibrancy, tension, and freshness. This is an artisanal wine from start to finish. The wine shows bright fresh stone fruits (peach), floral notes (orange blossom) and citrus fruits (grapefruit). The wine has a persistent finish with a slight salinity reflection of the proximity of the Pacific Ocean. The granite soil is responsible for the bright acid, and mineral notes in the wine. 60%Muscatel And 40% Semillon. $25.99

Susana Balbo Signature Torrontes
Pale gold with bright reflections. On the nose, this wine seduces with hints of white pear, white flowers and ripe peach. On the palate, it has a beautiful structure and acidity along with enticing fruit flavours. Plenty of body for a wine that shows such delicate aromas and flavours. Fruity, floral and yet still quite dry.

Pair this wine with foods with delicate flavours such as fish and shellfish. Spicy and aromatic Indian. Chinese and Thai cuisine also go very well with this variety. $29.99

Verum Pinot Noir Patagonia
From a small boutique winery that is still family-owned, this beautifully priced Pinot Noir comes from Patagonia, Argentina’s southernmost tip. Pour this one for Burgundy fans — we think they’ll be as impressed as us. With notes of cherries, clay and spice, it’s a winner paired with duck, chicken, turkey or lamb. $22.99

Zorzal Eggo Bonaparte
The Eggo Bonaparte is made from 100% Bonarda and is vibrant, complex and enticing. Colourful notes of spice, blackberries, blueberries, minerality and earth.

Zorzal is a winery based in Mendoza, Argentina, but is partly owned by a group of Calgarians! The Eggo line focuses in on the terroir of each vineyard, creating an array of different varietals that are fermented and aged in concrete eggs. They believe that within these eggs, the molecules of the wine cannot detect gravity, and thus, they are thrust into a circular motion around the egg, softening the molecules out. $35.99

Fevre Espino Gran Cuvee Carmenere
Living up to its expectation of fine ageing wine, this Espino Gran Cuvée Carmenère from the 2013 vintage is even more surprising! It possesses an intense purple colour and on the nose, it has a great complexity of red pepper (characteristic of this grapes, particularly enhance this vintage), wild berries with aromas of ripe fruit, smokey wood and violets. On the palate, the attack subtle and generous, the tannins are velvety and persistent. The qualities of this well structured Carmenère are enhanced with several years of ageing in the bottle. $29.99

Durigutti Compuertas 5 Suelos
After the precise soil composition study was completed, 5 wines were defined resulting from the 5 different soil profiles. Each wine is made in separate concrete eggs and then a final blend is determined. This lovely bright red wine offers an herbal profile also combined with Bach flowers, fresh cherries and other black and blue fruits such as cassis, blackberry, blueberries and black plums that make it attractive. The palate is juicy, medium bodied and tight texture with a long finish full of flavour. Using over 100-year-old vines helps to make this wine as delicious as it is. Lighter in style than your typical Malbec but still full of flavour and complexity.

The Durigutti winery is from two brothers, Pablo and Hector Durigutti. They are both winemakers with different styles for making wines but filled with passion and the desire to make great wines that represent Argentina. Together they are a spectacular force and making some amazing wines. The Compuertas line is from the Lujan de Cuyo sub-region in Mendoza which is rich with history and enormously valued. Their passion for wine and love for the land motivate them to protect the traditional culture from being lost. The Western region of Lujan de Cuyo offers the coolest climate, an important diversity of soils and traditional viticultural methods that have continued to be used over the century.

In 2007 the brothers purchased their first 5 hectares of old vine Malbec vineyards. The original vineyard dates back to 1914. Over time they have built up to 25 hectares in total. With this dedication, they aspire to develop, along with other local producers who maintain their vineyards with pride, the stewardship to offset the encroaching urbanization. $32.99

Not surprisingly, this Malbec was the favourite of the evening.

Garzon Reserva Tannat
The Tannat Reserva is 100 percent Tannat that is fermented in 150-hectolitre cement tanks before spending six to twelve 12 months on its lees in French oak barrels and larger casks. It’s secret to success is its juicy, fresh demeanour on the nose and palate and what silky tannins to die for. Red fruits, black fruits and mineral stony undercurrents keep it all inline before the finish. This is a sensational bottle of wine for the price. Lamb or barbecue ribs friendly. $27.99

Thank you to everyone who attended this evening, and once again, Thank you to Peasant Cheese for catering!

- Abigail Pavka

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