The BEST of Argentina: Top 9 Wines

Hopefully, you have read the posts on bodega touring in Lujan and Maipu and Valle de Uco, dining and wining in Mendoza, and Argentine wines found and purchased in LA. Here is the list of the best wines tasted by the tBoW team in Mendoza. We have tasted other Argentine wines found in SoCal but they are not covered in this post.

Where possible, I am providing the importer, distributor and retailer in LA or anywhere. Lets’ get to it.
One more minute. Let me tell you about the best restaurant in Buenos Aires that is not a tourist steakhouse where we found #9…
Tomo 1 (uno) is on the second story above a cheesy hotel close to downtown Buenos Aires. The room has about 20 tables. A couple of sisters well past their 60s moved their San Telmo restaurant to this location in order to go upscale (and probably post higher prices in line with all the praise they received for their inventive and peerless dishes.) Moving from San Telmo is like going from the East Village to Midtown. At least. We had three long term memorable meals in Argentina, one in Buenos Aires. This was it. We ordered five desserts: 2 dulce de leches (the Missus still seeking close replication for Argentina’s caramel classic); an apple tartane; and two desserts that sounded so incredible we had to try both. First, a scoop of arugula sherbet with cardomon ice cream on top. Outrageously good. Indescribable. I will forget my birth town before I forget this. Second, pink grapefruit wedges in a gewurtztraminer and pear soup. Served in a martini glass. Uncle Don would call it fruit cocktail but then he refers to cordon bleu as ham and swiss.
bodega azul.jpgNumber 1 (M.I.A.)
2003 La Azul Reserve $20: What can I say. The memory fades as time passes and I fear I may never again taste my blue wine. I have borrowed an image from a touring blog now disappeared. Now I am just ill that we blew this tasting. Even though we had more time with Chef Pablo at Andeluna I do think we missed something special. Blend of Malbec, Cab Sauvignon and Merlot. Woman winemaker – Flavia Manterola – from Valle de Uco. 500 case production. Sweetness in the nose. Minty, reminds me of Phelps Insignia character. Nicely balanced. Has to be more Merlot than Cab. Tasted it twice in country. Great both times. 14.3%. We will never see it!!!
Number 2 (found it! In Virginia!)
Bressia monteagrelo 05.jpg2005 Bressia Monteagrelo Malbec $26: One of the top two wines tasted in country. Amazingly, I may have found it nearby (within 100 miles). 100% Malbec juice. Smooth and thick but not like syrup. Just viscous. Deep flavors of black cherry with some polished and buffed wood. Think mahogany. Beautiful robe. Delicious nose. Winner! Pay the front line! Just so you know, tBoW also tasted the sparkler 2006 Brut Nature and the higher priced red 2004 Profundo. The sparkler was very very good. Great value at $30 and 12%. The Profundo was bought off the wine list at the fancy Pulenta restaurant; $45 and 13.5%. Over-ripe, blend of mostly Cab, Syrah, Merlot and Malbec. Fruit and charcoal. I ordered this online from Virginia. Fran Kysela via Timeless Wines is bringing it into the USA. Having some trouble getting it all the way out here on the West Coast. Like flat screens…hard to find them way out here in the western region of the country.
colome malbec.jpgNumber 3 (found it in SoCal!!)
2005 Colomé Malbec $25: Colomé certainly was the most enchanting bodega and we never came close to it. I refer you to the videos posted earlier. Grapes grown at 7,000 feet and wine made at their Salta area winery owned by Hess. Blend of Malbec, Tannat and Merlot. Works beautifully. Solid middle weight as so many of these wines are. Rich red purple deep blood red robe. Easy nose with aromas of spice, Maipu-like citrus quality. Well balanced. Had it with classic asado fare (grilled meats and chimichurri). Perfect fit. Get it at Hi Time Wine Cellar in Coast Mesa.
Number 4 (Henry Wine Group has it and is allegedly distributing)Andlna_06_malbec_WS_bottle.gif
2006 Andeluna Malbec $10: Buttered popcorn on the nose. Pepper, younger wine. Lean and middleweight. Excellent. Rich flavors. Unbelievable value. Hope we can find it. We should be able to. My god…what if we can’t??? 14.2%. San Francisco Wine Exchange brings it in. Good luck getting information from them.
Number 5 (trophy hunters alert!! Very very rare…)AF bella vista.jpg
2007 Achaval Ferrer Finca Bella Vista Malbec ~$150: This is the big ticket wine from Mendoza. Has the pedigree. Most sought after wine from the most prestigious house. Small single vineyard at 3,000 plus elevation. Not blended with lesser vineyards. Refined nose. Candy flavors. Elegant. Powdery vanilla (soft tannins). The real story is the 2005 and 2006 vintages were lost to hail. So the market is thirsty for this wine. TGIC Importers brings it in. Bound to sell out. Great wine if yagottahavit!!!
colome torrontes.jpgNumber 6 (here in Costa Mesa!!)
2007 Colomé Torrontes $15: They have it at Hi Time Wine Cellar in Costa Mesa. Blow your mind. Yellow gold color. Maximim Grunhauser meets Chateau Grillet. This bottle needs time. Buy it now and wait six months. I cannot believe I am ranking it this low. I must be biased against white wines. This wine is burning a hole in my brain. 13%
Number 7 (it is here…somewhere)
2005 Luigi Bosca Syrah $11: One of the nation’s biggest producers [ed. only 1.2 million cases] proves size does not matter. Not the Syrah I might expect. Lighter and more viscous than a Chateauneuf de Papes. More like a Tablas Creek red but without that Paso ripeness. Lighter than Paso. Makes me want to taste other Argentina Syrah wines. Spicy, pepper on the nose and first taste. Well balanced. Soft. Subtle. A lovely drink. The fact it tastes so nice suggests something special about the grape in the Maipu region where the vineyard is located. Of three wines tasted at this meal (Tomo 1) this was my favorite. 14.9% Golden State Wine distributes in California. No web site.
Number 8 (see Henry Wine Group note above)Andlna_05_chard_R_bottle.gif
2005 Andeluna Cellars Reserve Chardonnay
: As Jack Paar used to say, “I kid you not”. [ed. Who was Jack Paar you old fart? Here he is interviewing Jonathan Winters. I know who was…] Outstanding wine. The first chardonnay I have tasted in a LONG time that is memorable. Some sulfur on the nose, minerals, green olives. Not your Napa banana boat. No oak flavors. Meringue. Grown at 4,000 feet. 12 months in French oak. Michel Rolland consulting here. Henry rep says try Whole Foods. That would be convenient. I called my local. Never heard of it. 13.1%.
Number 9 (M.I.A.)
arnaldoB.jpg2004 Arnaldo B Etchart Gran Reserva Malbec: Another premium bottle from another monster producer Etchart. A Cafayate valley (Salta region) blend of Malbec (50%), Cabernet Sauv (30%), Merlot and Tannat. These are high altitude wines (5,000 feet). Rich, ripe but without the tobacco and leather nuances tasted in other “older” Reserve wines. Very rich and just ripe enough. Not darkly brooding like a Cabernet Franc or the weighty domination of a Cabernet Sauvignon. Oak and tannins present but muted. Even and balanced. Very good wine. Even the cab grows better in Salta. 14.5%
Bonus video:
While searching for the distributor or Arnaldo B Etchart I came across this video in which Arnaldo Etchart is interviewed at his Cafayate estate. It is in Spanish and I cannot see how to shrink the image. No matter. The video is worth viewing just to get a sense of what this northernmost region in Argentina looks like. The rustic environment reminds me of Guadalupe Valley in Baja California.

Got something to add?