Today was all about meat, Malbec and Mayorga; Santiago Mayorga to be precise: a hot winemaker (as in ‘doing good things’. Tsk!), who leads the team at Cadus Wines and works with the high end labels at Nieto Senetiner in Uco Valley, Argentina. Over a to-die-for, authentically Argentinian feast at Gaucho Piccadilly, featuring tuna ceviche, empanadas and a trilogy of perfectly cooked beef cuts (Cuadril Rump, Chorizo Sirloin and Media Luna De Vacio), we heard what’s driving the new generation of Argentinian winemakers.
Letting the grape shine
By tasting single vineyard wines from several vintages, we saw first hand how the winemaking style had dramatically changed in a relatively short space of time. In the past, it was all about spirity, raisin-flavoured fruit bombs thanks to extended oak ageing and harvesting the very ripe grapes later. What we are now starting to see not just at Cadus and Nieto, but in many other Argentinian wines, is a move towards purity; to letting the grape’s natural personality sing via much less oak, using the cool of the high altitudes, earlier picking and importantly, allowing the characteristics of the specific site where the grape was grown to come through into the wine. That’s ‘terroir’, that is.
A winemaking revolution
Since the arrival of drip irrigation in the 90’s, there has been a winemaking revolution in Argentina. The ability to use water has opened up some incredible, new, previously inhospitable places to plant vines. Winemakers and their teams must now focus on educating people about the stunningly different terroirs of Argentina, we are told. Their wish is that some day soon, consumers will be asking for wines specifically from Salta or Vista Flores for example, and even from the relatively new appellation of ‘Gualtallary’: the highest valley in Uco, located 1600 metres above sea level.
Move over Malbec!
Malbec ought to watch it’s back. While it’s seductive, cocoa-dipped raspberry flavours make it the Polo Player of Wine Grapes, other grape varieties are coming to the fore and are turning our heads. Cabernet Franc, Bonarda and Petit Verdot (who knew?!) are the three red grapes itching to get into the limelight, but the surprise of the tasting for me was the white contender. It was an Uco Valley Semillon from Nieto Senetiner that had me thinking ‘I like what you’ve done there’. Floral, citrussy and moreishly waxy with a teensy touch of honey, it was a very pleasant surprise.
And yes, I know today clearly wasn’t all about Malbec, but I liked the alliteration…
Thank you Boutinot, Emma Wellings PR and Gaucho Piccadilly for hosting us so brilliantly.
Nieto Senetiner Semillon 2014, Valle de Uco, Mendoza: £8.49 – £11.79 from D. Byrne & Co., Hoults Wine Merchants, Vino Wines.
Cadus ‘Valle de Uco Appellation’ Chardonnay 2014, Valle de Uco, Mendoza: £10.99 – £13.75 from D. Byrne & Co.,Taylors of Tickhill, Cork of the North, Priory Wines.
Cadus ‘Gualtallary Appellation’ Malbec 2013, Valle de Uco, Mendoza: £10.99-£14.99 from D. Byrne & Co., Taylors of Tickhill, Kwoff Ltd., Hoults Wine Merchants.
Cadus Single Vineyard ‘Finca Las Torcazas’ Malbec 2011,Agrelo, Mendoza: £24.99 -£32.50 from D. Byrne & Co., WoodWinters, The Blue Glass, Auriol Wines, The Wine Factor, Hoults Wine Merchants