Exploring Argentina: wines for the BBC’s Bill Buckley
We’re dedicating all of my wine hour with the BBC’s Bill Buckley to Argentina, focusing on the sheer diversity that this exciting country offers the modern wine enthusiast.
I was fortunate enough to visit a couple of months ago, so this week’s offering has the added advantage that I have actually been to where these wines are made, I’ve seen the vines (it’s Southern Hemisphere, of course, so they were preparing for harvest when I was there) and I have seen the wineries and, in most cases, I have met the winemaker, which makes more of a difference than you might think.
Bill loves to start things off with a bang. This can get quite messy, as sparklers tend to get excitable when they travel. I don’t think I’m the favoured guest of the BBC engineers! The New World is increasingly doing a brilliant job of making sparkling wine in the Old World way – what we used to call Methode Champenoise, until the term was forbidden after lobbying by the Champagne trade body, now called Traditional Method – and Kaiken Brut NV (£16.99 from ‘Wineman’ at Yattendon in Berkshire) is a superb example. Made with two of the three ‘Champagne grapes’, 70% Pinot Noir , 30% Chardonnay, with at least two years bottle ageing, this is a quality bargain at the price.
It’s not just Argentina’s wines that can be intoxicating, so is the scenery. Next, from the oldest winery in Argentina, dating back to 1831, in the beautiful northern region of Salta, comes one of the country’s own distinctive indigenous grapes, Torrontés. Fresh, bright floral, Colomé Estate Torrontés 2017 (£12.99 from grapemindsdrinkalike.co.uk ) is a wonderful summer wine, and the perfect alternative for the increasingly ubiquitous Sauvignon Blanc, so if you fancy a change, do try this.
Famous for Malbec, and to a lesser extent Cabernet Sauvignon, many of Argentina’s pioneering winemakers have been quietly evolving the style of their wines to develop lighter, more fragrant, less thunderously tannic styles of red wine. Italians Alberto Antonini and Antonio Morescalchi learnt their craft in Tuscany and brought their ‘style’ to Mendoza. Altos Los Hormigas Tinto 2017 (£12.99 from simplywinesdirect.uk in Pangbourne) is a lovely fresh, vibrant and spicy. The perfect barbecue wine.
Finally, a Malbec that will please those who prefer a deeper, more traditional style. From the Calchaquí Valley in Salta, Amalaya 2017 Malbec (£12.99 from Inn at Home in Newbury) is almost purple – 85% Malbec, 10% Tannat and 5% Petit Verdot – but also fresh and fragrant, with that wonderful ‘altitude wine feel’ from grapes grown at 1,800 metres above sea level and velvety tannins.
Take a new look at Argentina with these wonderful wines!