The first tasting of 2017

When a doctor, a carpenter, a lawyer and a dentist show up for the first tasting of the year (2017) you know that tastes, however eclectic they are going to be, are definitely going to differ even greater than one could imagine. Vinous conversation ensued with gravadlax force and a Texan humor that would make any ten gallon hat insufficient to decant the following wines (tasted):

First tasting of 20172014 Semillon, Mendell showed super expression of 73 year old Semillon vines. Hints of wild flowers and honeysuckle, finishing with hints of coconut and a rounded gentle acidity.

2009 White Bones Chardonnay, Catena Zapata was  a big hit and also a big number. Pure Chardonnay from the new world with an Anjou pear appleness and an apricot elegance backed up with soft French oak. Those Tyrannosauruses came in handy from 50 million years ago.

2009 White Stones Chardonnay, Catena Zapata has always been, to date, my favourate Argentina Chardonnay, without doubt. Especially 2009 vintage. Those little white stones keep a warmth in the vineyard at night that support a minerarlity in the underscore of vanilla and wild white flowers and hint of baked red apple. Bright lingering Puligny finish to die for.

2007 Cincuenta y Cinco, Chacra has been tasted on numerours occasions. (lucky me) But this evening’s bottle was outstanding. The freshness of this Pinot Noir balanced with a poplar tree sappiness made it one of the best bottles I have had. Well done the Tuscan mafia for fermenting the juice in little unused cement tanks.

2010 Poesia, Helene Garcin is still a classic blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Malbec. Classy and classique all the way through.  Formidable mademoiselle.

2010 Canal Uco, Zuccardi was a dark cherry number from a big Mendoza family. Refined, juicy (I cannot believe I wrote that) and an alround excellent Malbec with great mouth feel, reduced minty accents and a soft sleeky mouth filling tannins.

2008 Tannat, Veteris Conventus  I believe comes from 19th century vines. This was a big open, mature Tannat that made everyone sit up, and vote it the wine of the night (4 out of 5 tasters that is). A great bottle and I look forward to trying another if I can find one. This may seem pretentious but it tasted as if it had been poured from a magnum, alas no, only a 75cl bottle.

2005 Cabernet Franc, Achaval Ferrer was the wine that our tasters were most looking forward to tasting on the evening as they are Cabernet Franc freaks. Probably the last bottle in the world,  and it really packed a punch. Blackcurrants, tobacco, violets and bellpepper. Lovely concentration, fully mature and what a pity they never made another vintage.

1977 Malbec Estrella, Weinert was the oldest wine that some of the tasters had ever tasted. Of course it is a legendary wine here, and it is still very much alive and kicking all punches. Mature Malbecness, leathery sweet tannins, and a fine Claret finish that just goes on and on.

First tasting of 2017 - Cobos2012 Malbec, Cobos had to be decanted well in advance. Creamy oak integrated with full bodied floral Malbec flavours. Abundance of fruit personified. Beautifully made in the style of a great Napa wine, alas, made in Perdriel, Luyan de Cuyo. Robert Parker junior marked it right up there with the best.

The original brief was to taste, in two hours and before a 9 course dinner, the best of Argentina. On one of the hottest and most humid (87%) evenings (Full Moon showing us the way) of this January, all needed to be chilled down a little and had a two hour breather. Only the Cobos was decanted and for the benefit of all glass freaks, Univeral (Zalto) played a hand in all as did the Burgundy glass they make to show off Piero’s Pinot Noir.

And my goodness we did it. There was not a poor wine amongst the suspects. The 2009 Chardonnays were tasted blind next to each other, and though my personal preference is the little white stoney one, the boys from Lynrd Skynrdland, who are more used to a bolder Burgundian style, or something from Napa Valley, went for the Dinosaurian maximus Boney M.

The kick-off palete cleanser before I forget, was Bodega Mendel`s Semillon (or as they say in R.o.A, ‘Semmyjohn’) 2014. Not easy to find a 3 year old version, as most of the production is drunk during the year of it`s release.

Two big suprises, the Tannat, was without doubt, the red wine of the evening if not only for it`s originality, but this particular bottle was truly a biggee. As you can see from the vintages shown on the evening, it is uncommon to find, 2005s and 2008s (1977?) and the like, as most wine in south America is drunk very young, and very cool.

Saluti y presto!