Welcome Wine Club Members,
Cheers from Cove Ledge. It’s October and that means a new wine of the Month is ready to be enjoyed and accompany you on your October Wine Journey.
This month we decided to have some fun and seek out two wines that not only taste fantastic but, also would serve as a symbol of our appreciation for being a Cove Ledge Wine Club Member…. and we found the two wines of choice…. in Argentina!
Just when you think we were not paying attention… Know that all of your hard work and dedication to being a Cove Ledge Wine Club Member is truly recognized… That’s right… we are using this Month’s wine selection to send along a big Thank you & Congratulations! For being rated “Number One!”. J
Consider this Month’s wines as a treat …a bit of bragging rights in a glass (of sorts) for being rated number one. (In the Cove Ledge wine book anyway…) J
So go ahead, savor the moment being numeral UNO, pat yourself on the back… better yet, take a timeout one fine Autumn day and enjoy sipping a glass of these lovely wines from Argentina with family and friends.
The red is a beautiful Malbec from the renowned Southern Argentinian Mendoza, Uco Valley. Antigal’s portfolios of wines are some of our favorites. The 3-dimensional, rustic #1 emblem on the Antigal bottle is reminiscent of a time when the winemaker used to stamp-out shapes from the wine barrel metal hoop rings. The white is a Torrontés from the Northern Salta Region of Argentina. The white is from renowned Argentinian winemaker Nicholas Catena. If you have not heard of Torrontés, it is an indigenous white grape that is considered unique to Argentina and has been called the country’s signature white varietal.
Thank you for your continued patronage. As always, we hope that you enjoy this month’s selection!
Wine is our passion, but being part of the community is a life long commitment that we consider a privilege and an honor.
As always, we have included some information to hopefully provide some educational value and interest to go along with these lovely wines. Enjoy. J
Annette & Keith
In Store Price: $15.99 / btl
Wine Club Member Price: $14.99/ btl
ANTIGAL UNO – 2013
MALBEC MENDOZA, ARGENTINA
Antigal Winery’s gravity-fed system facilitates exceptionally gentle treatment of their hand-picked, meticulously sorted, high-elevation fruit. Consequently Antigal UNO Malbec 2013 is an elegant expression of its varietal type, showing great balance and supple tannins.
The 2013 vintage of Antigal UNO Malbec offers delicious plum and blackberry flavors with enticing hints of tobacco and chocolate. Brightened by carefully protected natural acidity, this violet-red wine is versatile at the dining table, pairing well with lamb, duck, game, and pork as well as beef.
APPELLATION: Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina COMPOSITION: 100% Malbec
ALCOHOL: 13.9% | TA: 5.59% | PH: 3.70 | RS: 0.26% AGING: 8-10 months in French and American oak
In Store Price: $9.99 / btl
Wine Club Member Price: $8.99/ btl
Alamos Torrontes 2015
Torrontes from Salta, Argentina
The Catena family sources Alamos Torrontes from the North West Argentina, home to some of the highest vineyards in the world;.
The intense mountain sunlight and pure snowmelt water of the Andes gives Alamos Torrontés its explosive floral aromatic character and bright citrus flavors. This crisp, refreshing wine is excellent with spicy empanadas and grilled fish.regarded as quintessential Barossa.
A delightful expression of the high elevation Salta region, our Alamos Torrontés has bright floral aromas of orange and jasmine blossom. On the palate, this wine offers citrus and peach flavors that lead to a crisp finish.
It makes the perfect aperitif, and is also a wonderful match with delicate seafood dishes and Asian salads.
Wines of the Month – and where they call home
About Wines of Argentina…
Now fifth in the world for wine production, Argentina is catching up in the quality wine sector. A long time wine producer, Argentina used to make wine in order to drink it, not export it. And so the wines produced were quaffable and rustic and made for the local’s everyday dinner. Yet it’s hard not to get caught up in the wine market of the world and some winemakers decided it was time for Argentina to show their stuff. Better winemaking technology was brought in, new winemaking techniques were learned and good viticulture practices flourished. The result? World-class wines with unique style and variety.
Unlike its Chilean neighbor, Argentina’s vineyards are spread out around the country. The best known region is Mendoza, almost parallel to Santiago to the west. Mendoza contains the sub-regions of Maipu (pronounced MY-pu) and San Rafael. Grape-wise, the most important white is Chardonnay, making wine similar to California’s style on the variety. Another fun white grape to try is Torrontes. Almost only grown in Argentina, Torrontes makes wines that are crisp, aromatic and easy-drinking. Some of the best versions of this wine come from the northern region of Salta, with very high altitude vineyards. As for the reds, Cabernet Sauvignon is the main grape for many wines leaving the country, but Malbec, the grape Argentinians like to call their own, makes very distinctive wines that are structured, dense and velvety. Many more varieties happily grow in the country, but for export, and consistent quality, these are the primary grapes.
Argentina boasts a wealth of natural resources and areas of great scenic beauty, including high summits and plains, lush forests and absolutely arid deserts, woods and steppes, glaciers and waterfalls. Any landscape you may imagine, you can find somewhere on Argentine soil.
Argentina is one of the most important wine-producing countries in the New World, and the largest producer of wine in South America. The high-altitude deserts of the eastern Andes have given rise to a high-quality wine industry and the terroir here is well suited to Argentina’s adopted grape variety, the ubiquitous Malbec. Originally from Bordeaux, this is now responsible for some of Argentina’s most famous wines, which are characteristically bright and intense, with floral notes and flavors of dark fruit.
Covering just over one million square miles (2.8 million sq km), Argentina is the second-largest country in South America and stretches from the southern border of Bolivia in the north to the southern tip of the continent. It is home to a vast array of landscapes, from the rocky peaks of the Andes in the west to the fertile Pampas lowlands in the east.
Most viticulture in Argentina takes place in the foothills of the Andes, and most famously in Mendoza, where desert landscapes and high altitudes combine to make a terroir that gives rise to aromatic, intensely flavored red wines. Vineyards in Mendoza reach as high as 5000ft (1500m) above sea level. Here, increased levels of solar radiation and a high diurnal temperature variation make for a long, slow ripening period, leading to balanced sugars and acidity in the grapes.
Nearly three-quarters of Argentinian wine production takes place in Mendoza, and in addition to Malbec, there are significant plantings of Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Bonarda. Mendoza’s position in the rain shadow of the Andes means that there is little rainfall, and irrigation is supplied by Andean meltwater.
Further north, the regions of Salta and Catamarca are even higher, and a world-topping vineyard owned by Bodega Colome in Molinos sits at 9900ft (3000m), higher than the peak of Mount St. Helens in the Pacific Northwest of America. Low latitudes in this corner of Argentina – which at 22°N to 28°N is considerably closer to the Equator than any European wine region – are tempered by the high altitude and cold mountain air. Here, Argentina’s signature white grape, Torrontes, is grown, making an aromatic, floral white wine.
There are also some wine-producing regions in Argentina closer to the Atlantic coast than to the lofty peaks of the Andes. Patagonia in the south is now home to two regions, Rio Negro and Neuquen, the cooler conditions of which are suited to creating wines made from Pinot Noir.
Argentina has a long viticultural tradition, and wines have been made here since the 1500s, initially by Spanish missionaries and later Italian settlers. Until very recently, Argentinian wines were exclusively domestic, based mostly on the high-yielding Criolla Grande and Cereza grape varieties. Over the past 20 years, however, the country’s wine producers have raised quality levels and successfully consolidated an international export market. Argentina has risen to become the fifth-most-prominent wine-producing country in the world, following France, Italy, Spain and the USA.
Mendoza is by far the largest wine region in Argentina. Located on a high-altitude plateau at the edge of the Andes Mountains, the province is responsible for roughly 70 percent of the country’s annual wine production. The French grape variety Malbec has its New World home in the vineyards of Mendoza, producing red wines of great concentration and intensity.
The province lies on the western edge of Argentina, across the Andes Mountains from Chile. While the province is large (it covers a similar area to the state of New York), its viticultural land is clustered mainly in the northern part, just south of Mendoza City. Here, the regions of Lujan de Cuyo, Maipu and the Uco Valley are home to some of the biggest names in Argentinian wine.
Mendoza’s winemaking history is nearly as old as the colonial history of Argentina itself. The first vines were planted by priests of the Catholic Church’s Jesuit order in the mid-16th Century, borrowing agricultural techniques from the Incas and Huarpes, who had occupied the land before them. Malbec was introduced around this time by a French agronomist, Miguel Aimé Pouget.
In the 1800s, Spanish and Italian immigrants flooded into Mendoza to escape the ravages of the phylloxera louse that was devastating vineyards in Europe at the time. A boom in wine production came in 1885, when a railway line was completed between Mendoza and the country’s capital city, Buenos Aires, providing a cheaper, easier way of sending wines out of the region. For most of the 20th Century, the Argentinean wine industry focused almost entirely on the domestic market, and it is only in the past 25 years that a push toward quality has led to the wines of Mendoza gracing restaurant lists the world over.
Altitude is one of the most important characteristics of the Mendoza terroir. The strip of vineyard land that runs along the base of the Andes lies between 2600ft and 3900ft (800m-1200m) above sea level, and it is this altitude that moderates the hot, dry climate of the region. Warm, sunny days are followed by nights made much colder by westerly winds from the Andes. This cooling-off period slows ripening, extending the growing season and contributing rich, ripe flavors to the grapes that do not come at the expense of acidity.
Irrigation is facilitated by the rivers that cross the region, including the Mendoza itself, which runs down from the mountains. Warm, dry harvest periods mean that winemakers are able to pick their grapes according to ripeness, rather than being ruled by the vagaries of the weather. As with other New World countries, this leads to a reduction in vintage variation, as well as consistent quality from year to year. Predictable harvests also afford Mendoza’s winemakers the luxury of increased control over the styles of wine they produce – a factor which has contributed to the region’s international reputation.
The soils in Mendoza are Andean in origin and have been deposited over thousands of years by the region’s rivers. These rocky, sandy soils have little organic matter and are free-draining, making them dry and low in fertility. This kind of soil is perfect for viticulture – vines are forced to work hard for hydration and nutrients, and will produce small, concentrated berries in lieu of leafy foliage. The wines produced from grapes grown on these soils are often highly structured, with firm tannins, and have a distinct minerality that is often attributed to the soil.
The city of Mendoza has become one of the world’s wine capitals, and enjoys a significant slice of South America’s wine-tourism industry, helped along by the natural beauty of the area. The Fiesta Nacional de la Vendimia (National Harvest Festival) that is held in March to celebrate the harvest is one of the key events in Mendoza’s calendar.
The Uco Valley is a key wine-growing region of Mendoza, Argentina. Located in a clearly defined valley an hour’s drive south from the city of Mendoza, the region is home to the production of some of Mendoza’s most famous wines. Argentina’s icon grape variety of Malbec shines in the Uco Valley, producing terroir-driven red wines with a distinctive floral aroma.
Although considered part of the Mendoza region, the Uco Valley (or Valle de Uco in Spanish) can be recognized in its own right on several counts. Not only is the vine-growing area quite distinct; the region is also home to several of Argentina’s top producers. Attracted by the excellent climate and soil quality, newcomers with historic Bordeaux-based names such as Lurton, Dassault, Rothschild and Rolland have given Uco Valley a firm place on the international wine map. The vineyards of Vista Flores have produced some particularly successful wines.
Among Uco’s specific merits is its higher-altitude location at the foot of the Andes mountains; the valley’s La Consulta and Tunuyan sub-regions sit at altitudes of 2800 ft (850m) and 3600 ft (1100m) respectively, slightly higher than Maipu and Lujan de Cuyo in the north. Located at a latitude of 33°S, the area’s elevated vineyard sites benefit from high daytime temperatures which drop to cool at night. This allows the grapes to produce balanced sugars and acidity while achieving phenolic ripeness. Some of Mendoza’s finest white wines made from Chardonnay and Torrontes come from Uco Valley vineyards, as the relatively cool climate allows the requisite slower ripening period.
From the Tupungato region in the north to San Carlos in the south, the Uco Valley is roughly 45 miles (70km) long and an average of 15 miles (22km) wide. The valley follows the northerly course of the Tunuyan river as it flows down from its source high up in the Andean peaks. This is of great importance to the region’s viticulture; the dry continental climate brings little rain, so irrigation techniques are widely used. The town of Tunuyan, with a population of around 45,000, is at the heart of the region. It is situated on the western banks of the Tunuyan river.
Soils throughout the Uco Valley are alluvial and fairly uniform: a clay and rock base with a stony, sandy surface. These free-draining soils are excellent for quality viticulture as they stress the vines, leading to decreased vigor and lower yields, and consequently wines with a higher concentration of flavor.
Uco Valley has seen unprecedented investment in the last twenty years, and wine tourism is becoming one of the region’s key industries. The spectacular scenery and state-of-the-art winemaking facilities has the Uco Valley poised to become Argentina’s equivalent to California’s Napa Valley, a process which is already well underway.
Salta, in the far north of Argentina, is home to some of the world’s most extreme vineyard sites. Many sit at lower latitudes and higher altitudes than anywhere else on Earth. Interestingly, these two factors balance each other out; the cold temperatures associated with high altitude are mitigated by the high temperatures found at these latitudes. The combination creates an unexpectedly excellent climate for quality viticulture. Argentina’s signature grape varieties of Torrontes and Malbec are Salta’s top performers, producing bright, intensely flavored wines.
As is the case in Catamarca (to the south) and Jujuy (to the northwest), Salta’s vineyards are often located amid mountainous terrain – some reaching altitudes of 9840ft (3000m) above sea level. With latitudes as low as 24°S, their proximity to the Equator is similar to such places as Egypt, Mozambique, Alice Springs and Baja California.
Salta’s mountainous landscape creates a rain shadow over the vineyards below, ensuring clear skies and low levels of precipitation. The convenient flipside is that the mountains also provide irrigation, sending a reliable supply of meltwater down from the snowy peaks. This mesoclimate benefits from a wide diurnal temperature variation, which allows the grapes to develop phenolic ripeness while retaining good acidity. Summer temperatures in Salta reach 100F (38C) in the day time, while dropping to as low as 55F (12C) at night.
Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot and Tannat are the most prominent red-wine varieties in Salta, while Chardonnay and Torrontes account for the region’s most respected white wines. The region has a similar alluvial soil profile (sandy topsoil over a clay base) to Mendoza, 500 miles (800km) to the south, which explains why these varieties do so well in both regions.
Salta’s key wine-growing areas are Cafayate and the world-topping vineyards of Molinos. Cafayate in particular is quickly gaining an international reputation for the high quality of the wines produced there, as much as for the quirks of its terroir.