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Nieto Senetiner: Quality and Style

Its Wines Stand Out among the Great Wines from Mendoza,
in the Argentine Andes

By Simone Zarmati Diament

If any doubts remain about Mendoza being dead serious about its future, just try to smuggle a fresh fruit or produce past the custom officials. Surrounding the airport ­ where only domestic flights land ­ well-tended rows of vines confirm the fact that Mendoza is definitely serious about its wines.

Since Bodega Norton was first purchased in 1989 by Austrian entrepreneur and crystal czar Gernot Langes Swarovski, a wave of foreign investors followed. Dutch car dealer Mijndert Pon acquired Bodegas Salentein in 1998. Large corporations followed: Pernod-Ricard (Bodegas Etchart), Moët et Chandon, Allied Domecq, and the Chilean Concha y Toro, have purchased land on the flanks of the Andes, in areas with names like Tupungato, Agrelo, Luján de Cuyo, or Maipú.

Argentines like Catena who have purchased smaller wineries are making and exporting wines that compete with the best in the world. And in 1998, the Perez Companc Family, the fourth-largest holding company, second-largest producer of petroleum, and third-largest producer of gas in Argentina acquired the Nieto Senetiner winery for US$22 million.

The history of Bodegas Nieto Senetiner dates back to 1888. The winery was founded and built by Italian immigrants in La Carrodilla, Luján de Cuyo, in Mendoza. The winery grew and developed in the hands of different families during the early decades of the last century, producing wines sold locally and in bulk. In 1969, the Nieto Senetiner families purchased the lands and the winery. Its premises were extended and the development of the winery began.

Today, Nieto Senetiner has 300 hectares of vineyards, in the districts of Carrodilla, Vistalaba and Agrelo in Lujan de Cuyo, and grows the most well known wine varieties of the world such as Malbec, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Bonarda, Torrontes, Barbera and Chardonnay. Two wineries called "Bodega Vistalba" are specialized in the elaboration of premium wines of guarda (storing) and the "Bodega Carrodilla" is equipped with the latest winemaking technology to elaborate young wines. Nieto Senetiner also has the latest bottling line from Italy, semi-automated with a capacity of production of 8,000 bottles per hour.

Always faithful to its history and style, Nieto Senetiner has added some fabulous wines to their export list to South Florida.

Nieto Senetiner Cadus Malbec 2001 ($40.99)
Made from 100% Malbec grapes from 80 year old vineyards in Vistalba, Luján de Cuyo, Mendoza, this splendid, ful;l-bodied wine has a very intense and brilliant almost purple color, with deep, complex aromas of black currants, ripe figs, prunes and chocolate, well-developed tannins tempered by a balanced acidity. This wine can keep at least 10 years, at the end of which it will be a bid, mellow, velvety wines with all of its fragrances well developed and blended. Should you drink it now, serve it at 66ºF, and use a decanter. It pairs well with red meats, mushrooms, duck confit, pork sirloin, lamb stew and bean or lentil casseroles.

Nieto Senetiner Don Nicanor 2002 ($14.99)
It is an elegant and complex meritage, a blend of wines aged for 12 months in French oak: 33% Cabernet Sauvignon, 34% Malbec, 33% Merlot from Agrelo, Luján de Cuyo. A fine wine for storing up to 5 years, it is full-bodied and purple red with bluish hues. Red fruits, prunes and leather aromas are mellowed by the spicy wood of French oak barrels and add complexity to the wine. In the mouth it has a great personality, good body and structure. It is best paired with grilled salmon, barbecues, venison and rice dishes with mushrooms.

Nieto Reserva Malbec 2002 ($9.99)
This 100% Malbec varietal from Agrelo is deep red with a good concentration of spice and red fruit, the velvety mouthfeel develops into complex flavors of plums, figs and dried fruit with chocolate and hints of vanilla from 12 months maturation in French oak. It pairs well with red meats, empanadas, pastas with red sauces or cheese, casseroles of beans and pork, cheeses, and even chocolate.

Nieto Merlot Reserva 2002 ($9.99)
100% Merlot from Tupungato, medium body, deep red wine with a good concentration of red berries and blackcurrants, hints of violets and licorice with a touch of spice and vanilla from aging in French oak during 12 months. Good acidity, medium tannins make this wine a most pleasurable experience.

Nieto Chardonnay Reserva 2004 ($9.99)
With an attractive straw color this medium bodied 100% Chardonnay from the high region of the Mendoza river has a creamy texture and clean flavors of ripe grapefruit mixed with tropical fruit and melon tempered with a crisp acidity. The finish is elegant and complex making it a good match for poultry, seafood, fish, lobster and soft cheeses. Best served at 42º to 45ºF.

Other great wine from Mendoza

El Niño Malbec 2003 ($18.99)
I tasted this exceptional 100% Malbec varietal from Barrancas, Maipú in the high area of the Mendoza River without knowing its price. It tasted like a much more expensive wine. It is medium to heavy-bodied with an intense ruby color and complex aromas of ripe red fruit with spices and black pepper, and notes of cherry and licorice, chocolate and tobacco. The tannins soft and well-balanced resulting in a delicious finish. It is a treat savored alone or paired with strong flavored foods and chocolate. Much recommended.

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