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cellar torrontes

cellar miquel salarich

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A delicious addition to the portfolio of Freixenet Argentina

 by Simone Zarmati Diament

 

In the Argentine winter of 2005, winemaker Fernando Cairo’s  4x4 jeep was speeding along a dirt road snaking up the snowy Andes raising thick clouds of dust. We were going to the Altus Gualtallary winery , 5,100 feet above sea level in one of the highest parts of the Uco Valley in the foothills of the Tupungato volcano, with vineyards  adjacent to the famed Catena Zapata’s.  Freixenet was then planting several thousand hectares of vineyards of Malbec ,Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Tempranillo and some Tannat on the land it had recently acquired. “All this will become vines next year,” mused Cairo at the wheel of his dust-covered car. (Today he is the winemaker of his own-high end cult brand Ruta 15 Km 29).

Fast forward to five years later - Last night in the sultry Miami summer of 2010, in a cozy restaurant in the Miami Design District, Freixenet winemaker Miquel Salarich from Finca Ferrer was showing off his Malbecs paired with an Argentine dinner prepared by Michelle Bernstein’s cooks at Sra. Martinez.

Mendoza’s Valle de Uco, we now know, is prime land for vineyards planted on sandy and deep, very well drained and restrictive mineral nutrition soils. It produces rich wines that are deep garnet and violet red, with rounded tannins, chocolaty and fruity for the reds and well-balanced whites with floral aromas and mineral depth and a great acidity.

FREIXENET inaugurated its winery in Argentina,  in Gualtallary, Uco Valley — southwest of Mendoza, on the land that the company acquired in 2003, but it extended its interests to Cafayate Valley in Salta to produce Torrontés, the new star on the Argentine wine firmament.

Even though the label shows a bandoneón, an instrument that produces the quintessential Tango harmonies, the wine is labeled Acordeón, probably as a marketing tools designed to attract those who do not know what a  bandoneón is.   Despite this essential flaw, the wine, coming from the quasi desertic and elevated vineyards of Cafayate — the only terroir where a good torrontés grows — is delicious in any circumstance, whether as an aperitif or paired with foods.

 2009 Acordeón Torrontés, Cafayate Valley, Salta, Argentina ($11)  100% torrontés fermented in stainless steel, retains the unique aromatic characteristics of the grape. Mouth watering aromas of grapefruit, ripe white peach, fresh pineapple and honeysuckle, become in the mouth a fireworks of lively citrusy tang of Meyer lemon, honey and lime with lush pear and sober minerality.  With 13.9% alcohol content, this wine stands up to just about any food — from Asian and spicy to grilled meats and seafood —and is great as an aperitif.

2009 Acordeón Malbec, Finca Ferrer, Valle de Uco, Mendoza, Argentina    100% varietal displays the typicity of Malbec: red fruit, mint and mocha on the nose and  fresh pomegranate with cocoa and jammy fruit on the palate. Soft tannins and mild acidity. Pairs well with pizza. Pasta, antipasti, grilled meats and BBQ.

2009 Finca ñ Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina   Designed to appeal to young Hispanics, this 95% Malbec and 5% Syrah blend aged for six months in small oak barrels suits every age from every ethnic background - even to those who can't pronounce the letter ñ . With aromas of red fruit and black plum, mocha, toast and licorice, it exhibits all the best characteristics of Malbec. It is well rounded and rich with red fruit, figs and deep earthy tones, has soft tannins and pairs well with foods from cheeses and salumi, pot roast and risotto to roast duck, grilled meats and venison.