April 17 was Malbec World Day, and we joined in by leading a special #WineChat on Twitter live from the New York City celebration, a huge event called "Cambalache: One Night in Argentina." There were dozens of wineries on hand pouring their best wines, along with plenty of staff from Argentina to bring the guests closer to the terroir. And the best part was that we could taste the wine along with our panel from across the United States.
The #WineChat attracted a big audience on Twitter, with more than 3 million timeline deliveries. We started with the whites and then moved on to the malbecs (of course!) and red blends. Here's a quick summary of the impressions of our tasting panel, edited only for syntax, with suggested retail prices for the wines:
LEO Torrontes 2013 (SRP $17). This wine from Casa Bianchi is part of collaboration with the soccer player Lionel Messi to benefit his foundation. "Aromas of grapefruit, lemons and hint of honey; tastes of light citrus and lemons screaming for some cheese" -- Sherri Housman. "Nice citrus core, melon, refreshing and crisp, ideal for warm weather and lighter fare" -- Dezel Quillen. "A standard drinker for me; labels are important, I love the style of the LEO Label!" -- Eric Guy.
Trivento Amado Sur Chardonnay Blend 2013 (SRP $15). Amado Sur means "beloved south", and this is another good reason why. "A great blend" -- Debbie Gioquindo. "Aromas of pears and tangerines" -- Sherri Housman. "Aromatic, bright fruit flavors, lean, keen acidity, nice spring/summertime sipper" -- Dezel Quillen.
Postales Malbec 2013 (SRP $12). Neuquen is Argentina's newest wine region, with many vines and wineries just ten or fifteen years old. Malbecs from Patagonia can have some sweet and tangy flavors, even hints of citrus. "Very earthy, less fruit than others, where the tannins mellowed nicely" -- Todd Godbout. "Raspberries, plums, fresh ground coffee, baking spices, candied violets, and earthy underbrush; a touch of sweetness makes it go down easy" -- Cliff Brown. Argovino review: 87 points.
Alamos Malbec 2012 (SRP $11). A Catena family spinoff offers this standard selection as an everyday budget drinker; there's also a premium line called "Seleccion" at a slightly higher price. "The Alamos exudes blackberry with a rustic aroma, smooth tannins, slight spice" - Todd Godbout. Argovino review: 85 points.
Argento Malbec 2012 (SRP $13). Argento shoots for a classic style that's not necessarily bursting with fruit; the idea is to taste the terroir as well as the usual malbec fruit. "Currants, plums, Asian spices, dark chocolate, underbrush, dried flowers and a touch of smoke; the Argento was smooth, easy drinking, not a lot of complexity, but tasty" - Cliff Brown. "I really enjoyed the Argento; very smooth tannins with blackberry aroma chewy black fruit on palette" - Todd Godbout.
Santa Julia Reserva Malbec 2012 (SRP $12). "Toasted plum aroma, another earthy flavor, a little bite in the tail" -- Todd Godbout. "Black cherry, plums, baking spice, toasted oak and violets, not a big fruit driven wine" -- Cliff Brown. Argovino review: 86 points.
Trivento Malbec Reserve 2012 (SRP $11). This was one of the hits of the night, especially given its attractive pricing. Value is a strength across most of the Trivento wines. "Blowing me away with evolving of gorgeousness; dusty -> earthy -> cherries -> berries -> dusty -> earthy" - Julia Crowley. "Tastes of blackberry, cherry, black pepper and spice -- perfect pairing with spicy sausage" -- Sherri Housman. "Tannic finish means there's life for this a few years down the road" -- Kovas Palubinskas. "Deep color, nice blackberry, blueberry aromas, furry tannins, good acid-balance; a solid $10 bottle; two purple thumbs up for attractive packaging!" -- Dezel Quillen. Argovino review: 86 points.
Zuccardi Serie A Malbec 2012 (SRP $15). The Serie A wines come mostly from vineyards in Santa Rosa, which is east of the capital in Mendoza and further from the Andes. They have a drier style and noticeable acid, useful when pairing with food. "Another rustic, earthy, tobacco driven wine; medium chewy tannins" -- Todd Godbout. "Not a fruit bomb, more a wiry Old Worlder" -- Dan Altman. Argovino review: 86 points.
Bodega del Fin del Mundo Malbec Reserva 2011 (SRP $20). This malbec from the same producer as Postales has more aging and a bit more depth. "Blackberries, flinty minerals, roasted herbs, dark bittersweet chocolate, toasty oak and dried wild flowers" -- Cliff Brown. "Earthy, tobacco aroma, more rustic than fruit flavor, slight pepper finish" -- Todd Godbout.
Trapiche Broquel Malbec 2011 (SRP $15). A classic brand in Argentina, Broquel is synonymous with long oak aging and dark flavor. "Aromas of ash and earth; tastes of cranberries, cherries, blackberry, black currant with a pepper cocoa finish" -- Sherri Housman. "Blackberry, black raspberry, brown spice, juicy, supple texture, good quality-price-ratio, $10 and great BBQ wine." -- Dezel Quillen.
Famiglia Bianchi Organic Malbec 2011 (SRP $25). This is a rare organic wine from Casa Bianchi for the American market, from the sandy soils of San Rafael, south of the majority of wineries in Mendoza. "Plum, dark cherries, earth tones, nice texture, polished finish; where's the beef?" -- Dezel Quillen. "A little funky nose but the palate was full of black fruit and blackberry" -- Debbie Gioquindo. "Has aromas of earth, cherries and coffee; a glass of dark berry mix with a smooth smokey finish with hints of black pepper" -- Sherri Housman.
Don Miguel Gascon Malbec Reserva 2011 (SRP $25). The Escorihuela Gascon winery dates to 1884, and its wines are famous for their dignified mien and refined fruit. "Wonderful, under control fruit: ripe red plums, raspberry jam and a tannic whip -- age it!" -- Dan Altman. "Crushed blackberries, plums, dark chocolate, minerals and earthy underbrush" - Cliff Brown. "Quite unique blackberry smoke aroma; then blackberry chewing tobacco. Very enjoyable" -- Todd Godbout. Argovino review: 88 points.
Norton Privada Red Blend 2011 (SRP $25). Earlier vintages of the Privada, a malbec/merlot/cabernet sauvignon blend, are among the highest rated blends on argovino.com -- and they're a steal, usually under $25. "Sweet candied cherry; black fruit, licorice, touch of oak" -- April Yap-Hennig. "Crushed berries, game, dark roasted coffee, mocha, vanilla, cherries and potpourri; the Privada rocks!" -- Cliff Brown.
Caro Red Blend 2010 (SRP $63). Caro is a joint venture between the most famous families of Argentine and French wine, the Catenas and the Rothschilds; it's even aged in barrels made for the Lafite estate. "Dark skinned fruits, mineral, raspberry, cocoa nibs, well-defined, long finish" -- Dezel Quillen. "I find the nose of the Caro 2010 blend remarkable. Perfume, cigar box, leaves on the ground... and it keeps developing" - Dan Altman. "The cigar box aromas are really alluring and lovely" -- Julia Crowley. "Lots of toffee and chocolate" -- Debbie Gioquindo. "Pure earthiness -- aromas of earth, soil and blackberries; tastes of dirt, blackberries and tobacco" -- Sherri Housman.
All in all it was a tremendous tasting. At Cambalache, we also enjoyed hard-to-find wines like the Vicentin Blanc de Malbec and even some yet to be imported to the United States from Funckenhausen Vineyards. There's much more to come from Argentina, so stay tuned. Salud!