Argentina and Chile
This week we will explore wine from Argentina and Chile; specifically one white and two reds from Santa Alicia of Maipo Valley, Chile and from Argentina, two Malbecs and a Malbec-blend from Cuvelier Los Andes of Mendoza and Andeluna of Uco Valley.
Cuvelier Los Andes
“The story begins in 1804 when Henri Cuvelier set out to share his great passion for fine wine with his friends of the grand bourgeoisie residing in the rich and dynamic towns of the North of France. To this aim, he created H. Cuvelier And Fils, a wine Merchant company whose rapid success continued to develop throughout the 19th century.
At the beginning of the 20th century, Paul Cuvelier and his young brother Albert decided to purchase top quality estates in the Bordeaux area. They bought Château Le Crock in 1903, Château Camensac in 1912 and the prestigious Château Léoville Poyferré in 1920. It is interesting to note that, in early 1914, Paul Cuvelier had already come to Argentina, to discover the wines of Mendoza. He found them pleasant to drink although not adapted to the French taste at that time.
In 1998 Bertrand Cuvelier accompanied Michel Rolland in his great Argentine project, which was to become the Clos de Los Siete group. Three years later, Jean-Guy Cuvelier decided to join his cousin Bertrand in the joint aim of building a Winery and producing fine wines worthy of the family tradition. Since then, the Winery has been built and each year the vines of Cuvelier Los Andes have contributed 50% of their production to Clos de Los Siete, the wine signed by Michel Rolland. The success of this wine is worldwide due to the exceptional value for money it offers.
Cuvelier Los Andes, aside from its significant contribution to Clos de Los Siete, can now present three wines, produced with the help and advice of Michel Rolland: Coleccion, Grand Vin and Grand Malbec. The quality of these wines is well beyond our original hopes. Will the Argentine cousins rival in the future with the fine wines of Bordeaux? It is for the consumers to decide. Time will tell.”
Robert Parker says of Cuvelier Los Andes
“The Cuvelier family, proprietors of Chateau Leoville-Poyferre in Saint Julien, are one of several eminent Bordeaux dynasties that have ventured down to Mendoza. It is Bertrand and Jean-Guy Cuvelier that preside over the 55-hectares of vine in the Uco Valley. Around 75% of their 2011 crop was destroyed by hail on November 30th and as a consequence the crop is 40% below average and there is no Grand Vin or Grand Malbec this year. I have immense respect for what they have achieved in Bordeaux and so my expectations were perhaps raised when I received the samples. However, I am not going to pull my punches. I feel that the wines were compromised by what was a difficult vintage rather than any incompetent winemaking (previous vintages that I have tasted in the past I have found were superior.) And I could not avoid the fact that there seemed to be some under-ripeness blemishing the finishes, especially with respect to the Cabernet Sauvignon. The good news is that Baptiste has high hopes for the 2012 and I look forward to tasting them.”
Cuvelier Los Andes Malbec 2011– Mendoza, Argentina (Valle de Uco, Vista Flores, Tunuyán). 100% Malbec, 60% of which aged for 11 months in French oak barrels. Jen’s note: Very black/opaque in color and quite inky. Blueberry, sweet berry fruit on the nose. Ripe berry patch. Full-bodied, ripe palate with silky tannins. Rich finish. Robert Parker’s note- “The 2011 Coleccion Malbec undergoes the same maturation as the Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon and delivers 15.5% alcohol. It is far more expressive on the nose than either the Merlot of Cabernet Sauvignon with vivacious dark cherry and boysenberry fruit infused with violets and a touch of dried herbs. The palate is full-bodied with dense, muscular tannins. It has an enormous grip in the mouth, although the finish needs to find more cohesion and has a little astringency. Drink 2014-2018.” $20.99
Cuvelier Los Andes Coleccion 2009
Mendoza, Argentina (Valle de Uco, Vista Flores, Tunuyán). A blend of 59% Malbec, 16% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Syrah, 5% Petit Verdot, 60% of which aged in French oak barrels for 12 months. Jen’s note: Deep purple/magenta in color with dark fruits, spice and oak on the nose. Rich palate; layered flavors. Textured with grainy tannins. Good, chewy finish. Wine Advocate 92 points; Robert Parker says- “The 2009 Collecion is a blend of the varietals. Purple in color, with a brooding bouquet, it is a dense, structured, rich wine with impeccable balance, volume, and length. It has the structure to evolve for 2-3 years but can be approached now. It, too, is a great value. Cuvelier Los Andes is owned by Bertrand and Jean-Guy Cuvelier, part-owners of renowned Bordeaux Chateau Leoville-Poyferre in Saint Julien. The estate is located in the Uco Valley at the foothills of the Andes and encompasses 115 acres of still young vines. The consulting winemaker is Michel Rolland.” $20.99
“Andeluna Cellars was founded in 2003, by H. Ward Lay from USA and Ricardo Reina Rutini from Argentina, with the vision of being recognized as one of the top producers of high-quality wines from Argentina. Since the end of 2007 Andeluna belongs only to the Lay’s family.
Premium quality wine starts with premium quality grapes, and this is the essence of Andeluna. Andeluna cultivates traditional varietals like Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc in its vineyards located in Tupungato, Mendoza at more than 1300 meters (4300 feet) above see level.
French grape varieties, Argentine soils, Italian ancestry, world class winemaking, American drive, the latest in technology and a team of people who all seek the same goal: to make the greatest wines in the world. A perfect pairing of both hemispheres of wine: the earthly and the mystical. ANDE, a unique high-mountain terroir where man grows the most perfect fruits. LUNA (Moon), a magical and inspirational source for the creation of great wines.”
“Mendoza is widely regarded as the epicenter of the Argentine wine industry, and the rich, alluvial soils of the Andes are what make the wines of Mendoza so unique. Alluvial soil refers to soil deposits at the mouth of a stream or river, characterized by little or no modification of the original soil it is derived from. What this means for terroir is that these rich unique soils allows you to truly “taste” Mendoza, Argentina in each glass of Andeluna wine.”
Andeluna Cellars 1300 Malbec 2011Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina. “The wine is aged in French and American oak barrels for a period of 6 months, followed by at least 6 months in bottle before release. Great color intensity with violet hues. Aromas of diverse fruits and flowers, with notes of “dulce de leche”, vanilla and chocolate given by its ageing in oak barrels. Smooth attack in the mouth, typical of this variety. Balanced, full bodied with soft tannins.” Wine Spectator- “On the jammy side, with sweet plum sauce, blueberry and raspberry notes backed by red licorice and a slightly raisin-ed edge on the finish.” Jen’s note: Pretty purple color; blueberry and black fruits on the nose. Soft and textured. Some spice and mineral. $13.99
Vina Santa Alicia
“In 1954, on fertile lands close to the capital of Chile, an important politician and businessman, Mr. Máximo Valdés, founded the vineyard “Houses of Pirque”. With extensive experience in the wine business, he begins planting Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay.
After half a century and four generations, the Valdés family has turned these vineyards in the best example of love for the land, and perfection in the quality of its products.
Today, identified as “Santa Alicia”, as a way of honoring the women that in each generation carry this name, the vineyard continues with its tradition of excellence and prestige, expressed in each bottle are the decades of experience, high technology, and the privileged fruit which results from a marvelous environment.”
Santa Alicia’s vineyards
“The majesty of the main mountain cord of the world, The Andes Mountain, harbors a unique geography, which provides ideal conditions for several strains of grape to grow to its fullness.
Pure water irrigates the valleys, the sun moves delicately across the vineyards which grow in a harmonic setting of light, temperature, and fertility: the “terroir” a term which the French use to denominate the environment in which each type of grape develops.
Our grapes come from three select locations on the Maipo Valley: Pirque which is 687 meters above sea level (Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon), Maria Pinto which is 188 meters above sea level (Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Franc, Merlot), and Melipilla which is 133 meters above sea level (Syrah, Malbec, Petit Verdot, Carmenère).”
Santa Alicia Sauvignon Blanc Reserva 2011
Maipo Valley, Chile. After fermentation, the wine remains on light lees and is stirred once a week for added texture then ages in the bottle for two months prior to release. “Color: Pale yellow, shiny, hints of greenish tones. Aroma: Intense aromas such as Grapefruit, melon and gooseberry, typical of the variety. Palate: Harmonic, crispy, strong acid flavour, however balanced with residual sugar (due to low temp. at the end of fermentation). Food Pairings: Ideal with fresh seafood, sea bass, or ceviche.” Jen’s note: Grapefruit and citrus on the nose with lychee and stonefruit. Tangy and refreshing; stone/mineral flavors and a sweet, tropical fruit-filled finish. $9.99
Santa Alicia Carmenere Reserva 2010
Maipo Valley, Chile. The wine aged for eight months in American Oak (100%) then eight months in the bottle prior to release. “Color: Intense violet. Aroma: Intense aromas of spices, green peppers and hues of fresh mint. Palate: Concentrated tannins that are sweet but firm, with a nice finish. Food Pairings: Italian food, Chinese food, turkey and a wide variety of meats.” Jen’s note: Smoked meat, green pepper and sweet black olive on the nose. Toasty, sweet oak flavors; medium-bodied. Juicy, good. $9.99
Santa Alicia Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva 2010
Maipo Valley, Chile. The wine aged for eight months in French Oak (70%) and American Oak (30%) then eight months in the bottle prior to release. “Color: Brilliant and deep ruby red. Aroma: With aromas of ripe fruit, bitter chocolate and spices. Palate: Good structure and concentration with round tannins. Food Pairings: Red meats, barbecue and a large array of cheese.” Jen’s note: Pretty purple color. Sweet berry fruit on nose with spice and oak. Juicy and ripe. Berry fruits on finish. $9.99