What better way to start the Carnival 2022, extra long, week-end down here than with a local dinner accompanied with some of the top wines today coming from Argentina, Chile and Uruguay. If we happened to be living today in Uruguay ‘El Carnaval’ lasts for up to 40 days. I can just about handle four days of everything in Buenos Aires being closed, but at some stage moochachos, we do need to return to work and start whistling while we do so.

The wines at dinner where not the regular 100 pointers that we keep reading about in the press, but the wines chosen where a gentil selection of grown up, and in the case of Chile,’Grand Cru Chilena’.

After a refreshing glass of welcoming Mendocian fizz poured from a magnum. Cruzat Single V’yard Finca La Dama, Extra Brut. We started politely with Bodega Garzon’s ‘Balasto’ 2017. The bodega can be found at Maldonado in Uruguay and it is a bit like having a vineyard next to Monte Carlo or even Portofino (I have not been for a while). Here Punta del Este is the South American equivalent of.  This wine offered fresh red and black fruits with spicey tannins. A little too commercial for my palate but still, young and good. The boss at Garzon is one of the richest men in Argentina and having a bodega across the Rio de la Plata, I think it is probably quite hard for him and his team there to get away from just making an Argy style red wine in Uruguay. Not really my cuppa darling!

Next was a familiar blend for me of Tannat, Merlot & Tempranillo grown and blended at Bodega Bouza closer to the Capital, Montevideo. This was the 2015 vintage. Unctious and well made with dark fruits, soft around the edges and totally quaffable. A proper restaurant wine that you may need to order in magnums, if they do fill any that is.

Hans Vinding-Diers was not physically present at our table but he did manage to appear via modern day technology, on someone’s cellphone feed. He talked us through his Noemia 2013 direct from Bodega Noemia in Patagonia. “Thanks for staying up Hans, great work”. Noemia (the big wine) is always pure Malbec from this Rio Negro estate. A concentrated, intense Malbec showing purity of fruit and never at the expense of elegance. Drinking very well today and it will be interesting again to try the wine in 2/3 years time.

2018 Lubileus PerSe from Gualtallary high up there in the mountains of Mendoza has all the makings of a very serious Malbec that will not be ready to drink for at least another 4/5 years +. It is a monster of a Malbec in a good sense. Austere, finely grained tannins and a depth of material in the glass that made me think we where drinking an En Primeur Bordeaux. Only 1.500 bottles where produced/filled and I do recommend you buy at least one of them, if you can find any that is.

Crossing Los Andes for a moment and Montes Alpha’s 2013 ‘M’ just flowed like it should do. ‘M’ is a Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cab-Franc and Petit Verdot all perfectly matched. Herbal black fruits and juniper. Soft cedary oak, Margauxy tobacco with a hint of eucalyptus. More please!

My wine W.O.N. was the neighbour 2018 Don Melchor one of the most intellgent Latin American wines that I have come across and with a back catalogue of vintages from 1999 +. I could seriously drink a lot lot more of this wine. Mainly Cabernet Sauvignon with some (sorry I don’t know the %) Cabernet Franc. Really a very good Claret in Chile!

2018 Cheval des Andes, Mendoza. I have been lucky enough to taste and drink all the vintages of this wine several times before and even though I do find this 2018 wine rather one dimensional it is indeed a great sipper. A classic Bordeaux blend with Malbec predominance and the eyes, ears, and hands of Ch.Cheval Blanc (St.Emilion) keeping an eye etc. on all the goings on there. Not a good Claret in Argentina!

The final and totally classic wine of the evening was a Vino Uruguayo called AMAT from the Carrau Estate in Las Violetas. 100% majestically made 2005 Tannat generously showing cherry, leather and slightly sweaty saddle. Intense black earth and licorice. When I visited Uruguay in 2004 this was the very first wine estate (Bodega) I went to taste at. Classique!

The Sena 2019 was corked. Very dissapointing indeed, of course, as when I last drank the 2016 vintage my notes read blackberries and blueberries abound. Pure and restrained Carmenere, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and other usual suspects in the blend. A serious wines from Chile showing class, harmony and balance. 

!Happy Murga or Carnaval to you wherever you are in this wonderous world of ours! and here is a wee word from one of our sponsors:

Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.
There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature, the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter. Rachel Carson