Argentinean Wines: Crios de Susana Balbo and BenMarco

Crios de Susana Balbo was created by legendary Argentine female winemaker Susana Balbo as a second-label to her reserve level wines that also bear her name. Susana Balbo earned her oenology degree in 1981 and has been making wine ever since. She was the first Argentine winemaker to be hired as a consultant to make wine outside of Argentina. “Crios” means offspring; these wines display ripe fruit flavors, superb balance and concentration, and are meant to be enjoyed in their youth. For the tasting we will sample the most current release (2010 and 2011 vintages) of the Torrontes, Rose of Malbec, Malbec, and Cabernet Sauvignon, all priced at $12.99 tomorrow night.

BenMarco was crafted by Susana Balbo in 1999 to showcase the ripe fruit expression of her sustainably farmed Mendoza vineyards. Their philosophy is to grow high-quality grapes and make distinct wines that offer sense of place. The wines are made in as natural a manner as possible with minimal intervention in the vineyard and in the winery. The result is powerful, fruit-forward wines with ripe tannins, good length and balance, that speak of their origins- Mendoza. We will try the Malbec 2009 (91 Wine Advocate) and Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 (90 Wine Advocate), both priced at $15.99 for the tasting.

The specific wines for the tasting are:

Crios de Susana Balbo Torrontes 2011– Mendoza. 100% Torrontes from vines planted at 5576 feet that average 32 years of age. A fresh offering that fermented and aged in stainless steel. Enticing and perfumed aromas include peach, white pear, flowers and orange citrus fruit. On the palate exotic tropical fruit and floral flavors are enhanced with good acidity and nice structure and followed by a clean and refreshing finish. Tasting $12.99

Crios de Susana Balbo Rose of Malbec 2011– Mendoza. 100% Malbec from vines planted at 3280 feet that average 33 years of age. Fermented and aged in stainless steel. Beautiful, rosy pink/red in color with aromas of ripe strawberries and raspberries. Fresh flavors of juicy berry fruits such as strawberry, cherry, and raspberry are followed by hints of spice and a dry, yet fruit-filled finish. Tasting $12.99

Crios de Susana Balbo Malbec 2010– Mendoza. A blend of 95% Malbec and 5% Bonarda from vines planted at 3700 feet that average 15 years of age. The wine aged for 9 months in new barrels, half American oak and half French oak. A rich and deeply colored Malbec with aromas of spice box, black cherry, plum, and toasty oak. It is mouthfilling and lush on the palate with ripe berry fruit flavors and notes of spice and sandalwood that linger on the long finish. An outstanding value. Tasting $12.99

Crios de Susana Balbo Cabernet Sauvignon 2010– Mendoza. 95% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Malbec from vines planted at 3148 feet that average 29 years of age. The wine aged for 9 months in second-use French and American oak barrels (50% each). Intense and dark in color with aromas of ripe cherry, currant, and plum fruits. The palate is richly textured with mouthcoating suggestions of dark berry fruits with dark chocolate, vanilla, and toasty oak notes. A big, bold, and nicely structured Cabernet that’s worth every penny. Tasting $12.99

BenMarco Malbec 2009– Mendoza. A blend of 92% Malbec and 8% Bonarda from sustainably farmed vines planted at 3250 feet that average 24 years of age. The wine aged for 11 months in 50% new French oak and 50% second-use American oak barrels. It is deep purple in color with perfumed aromas of ripe black berry fruits, coffee, cocoa, and spice hints. The palate is lush and coating with chewy currant, plum, and cherry fruit flavors with excellent balance, bright acidity and gripping tannins. The Bonarda adds depth, dark fruits, and savory notes on the super-long finish. 91 Wine Advocate. Tasting $15.99

BenMarco Cabernet Sauvignon 2009– Mendoza. A blend of 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Merlot, and 5% Cabernet Franc from sustainably famed vines planted at 3550 feet that average 20 years of age. It aged for 11 months in 50% new French oak and 50% second-use American oak barrels. Spicy, fragrant aromas of roasted coffee, baking spices, dark berry fruits, and vanilla-oak hints are followed by a full-bodied, explosive palate. Flavors of black fruits of plum, blackberry and currant are enhanced with spicy, toasty oak and a lingering complex finish. 90 Wine Advocate. Tasting $15.99

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