Argentine and Portuguese Wine

This Thursday we will sample a variety of wine from Argentina and Portugal. These regions are both “hot” for value right now- Argentina, known for it’s principal red grape Malbec, is a hot-spot for great value, high-quality reds; Portugal, known for their delicious fortified wines called Port, is up-and-coming as a go-to region for simple, quaffing whites and reds that will “wow the wallet.”

Don Manuel Villafane owned by Sr. Tomas Machado Villafane and his family. The Villafanes have been in the wine business in Argentina for almost 400 years. In 1611, Don Manuell Villafane came to Argentina from Spain as a soldier to fight the English pirates who attacked Spanish ships. He later settled there as a farmer and was one of the first people to plant wine grapes there. At the time, his objective was to provide wine for the priests of the church, then much later to the settlers, who came to the “New World” to take advantage of the opportunities there.

For the tasting we will try three wines from their “Estate” tier, a Chardonnay, Malbec, and Cabernet Sauvignon, as well as one from the “Reserva” series, made from Malbec.

Don Manuel Villafane Estate Chardonnay 2011– Mendoza, Argentina. Golden in color, this lightly oaked white gives-off scents of butter, cream and fruit notes of peach, apple, and citrus. It is medium-bodied, creamy and soft on the palate with bright fruit flavors of pineapple and citrus. Balanced acidity carries through to the lengthy finish, with a fresh aftertaste of oak, vanilla, and spice. Tasting $11.99

Don Manuel Villafane Estate Malbec 2011– Mendoza, Argentina. Made from estate-grown fruit blended with some fruit that is sourced from Catena Zapata. Pretty garnet/purple in color with an expressive nose of ripe cherry, strawberry, and raspberry fruit and hints of spice and savory soy sauce. It is textured and full in the mouth with berry fruit flavors and undertones of toasty oak. This excellent value offers great body and length, soft tannins, and a full finish with lingering coffee and blackberry suggestions. Tasting $11.99

Don Manuel Villafane Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2009– Mendoza, Argentina. Aged in French oak. Ruby red in color with an aromatic perfume of sweet, ripe, red and dark fruits such as plum and cassis, with notes of violet and cedar. The dry palate offers sweet, juicy fruits, spicy flavors, and a silky texture within a full-bodied framework. Not overly heavy, it is well-balanced with supple tannins and a long finish. Tasting $11.99

Don Manuel Villafane Malbec Reserva 2010– Mendoza, Argentina. Aged for 12 months in new French oak barrels. The deep, attractive hue of purple/violet is eye-catching, followed by a very complex nose filled with rich, dark fruits of black cherry, cassis, and plum. It is mouth-coating and flavor-packed with blackberry, cherry, mocha, plum, and spice flavors that evolve into inviting vanilla and chocolate notes. A balanced wine that’s truly “delicious” with firm tannins (that will soften with time or air) and a very long finish of coffee, oak and spice. Tasting $16.99

Vera Vinho Verde is the project of Bruce Schneider, American wine producer and importer, and Rui Abecassis, Portugal’s deputy trade commissioner in New York City. In 2010, due to the lack of availability of good Vinho Verde in the American market, Vera was created. The idea was to offer an exceptional Vinho Verde based upon three criteria; better wine, nicer packaging, and greater value.

Vera, meaning “true,” is made by Luis Duarte, a “rockstar” winemaker of Portugal who started making wine when he was only 21 years old (in 1987). He has twice been named Winemaker of the Year (1997 & 2007) by Portugal’s highly regarded “Revista dos Vinhos.”

Vera Vinho Verde 2011– Basto, Vinho Verde DOC, Portugal. A blend of 60% Arinto, 30% Azal, and 10% Loureiro from vines aged 10-35 years old. It is light straw-yellow in color with a gentle spritz in the glass. Bright, fresh aromas of lime and pink grapefruit are complimented by underlying mineral notes. The wine smells sweeter than it tastes, offering flavors of lime and yellow grapefruit with hints of saline and wet stone. A very tasty, refreshing summer white with clean, yeasty notes on the (surprisingly) structured, rustic finish. Tasting $10.99

Agricultura Tinto was also created by the team behind the Vera Vinho Verde, Bruce Schneider and Rui Abecassis, and made by winemaker Luis Duarte. The grapes are from Alentejo, a southern-central wine region of Portugal, near the Spanish border. “Herdade Monte da Ribeira is a diverse farm with olive groves, grains, natural fauna and 42 hectares of vineyards planted between 1989 and 2008. The mountainous region where Agricultura is produced is the coolest part of the Alentejo region, formerly planted almost exclusively with white wine grapes. This climate allows for the production of perfectly balanced, fresh red wines produced from our traditional red grape varieties.”

Agricultura Vinho Tinto 2010– Alentejo, Portugal. A blend of 30% Touriga Nacional, 40% Trincadeira and 30% Aragonez (a.k.a. Tempranillo) that fermented and aged in stainless steel. “Touriga Nacional is the emblematic Portuguese grape, characterized by dark fruits and great structure. Trincadeira adds freshness and aromas of savory herbs. Aragonez brings a spicy finish.” Pretty garnet red in color with an attractive nose of crushed rocks and hints of earth and spice. Dark fruit flavors are complimented with spicy notes and enhanced with mild acidity and tannin. The finish is juicy and offers nice complexity for the price. Tasting $12.99

vera vinho verde agricultura

“Why the Ant on the Agricultura label? The classic story of working ant and the indulging grasshopper that everyone knows, or at least we think everyone knows! The ant represents the hardworking farmer at the very base of all agricultural labor.”

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