Sales Manager Alan Lavers draws on his own time spent visiting Argentina vineyards to tell us why the area of Mendoza has become the centre of the country’s wine industry.
Alto de Mayo Malbec, 13%
This Malbec is crammed with damson, blackberry and plum flavours, accented by touches of oak toast. Smooth, ripe tannins offer a silky finish. This is a wine to be explored, like the mountain after which it is named.
Pascual Toso, Limited Edition Malbec, 14%
From one of the oldest and most revered wineries in Argentina, this limited edition label is picked from old vines with small yields of very concentrated grapes. The results are intense, complex and beguiling. Blackberry and liquorice fruit on the palate lead onto a rich and long finish with smoky accents of vanilla and lingering oak.
Tonel Malbec 22, 14%
Violet colour, with shades of blue, intense aromas that highlight the varietal typicality, among them we find, aromas of plums, cherries, and a floral profile highlighting violets.
Wines Of Distinction
Geographically helped by the Andes Mountain range which produces wonderful clean fresh water from the melting snow which runs down into the river systems. This is then used for irrigation in this dry, continental climate where rainfall can be scarce. Growers in the past used a unique system of dams and irrigation channels that almost lets them turn on a tap when water is required, whereas the more modern wineries tend to use a drip irrigation system.
Argentina can claim wine culture back to the early Spanish settlers in the 16th century although towards the end of the 18th century when immigrants mainly from Italy, Spain, and France arrived is when it was planted more heavily with vines. This is when the Malbec variety arrived together with many others; however it is the Malbec originally from France that has become the signature grape of the Argentinian wine industry.
When the immigrants from Europe ventured to Argentina in those early days one of the reasons was because of an outbreak of Phylloxera in Europe. The French Vineyards were nearly wiped out between 1860 and 1900 due to this destructive microscopic root louse that was attacking the roots of the vines and thus bleeding them to death.
The immigrants travelled to Argentina to see if they could change their fortunes, fortunately when the vines were planted in Argentina’s sandy soils Phylloxera could not survive as they did in the heavier soils of Europe and so vine growth was vigorous.
Nowadays around the world vines tend to be grown on American rootstock which is resistant to Phylloxera, but it is still mandatory to report any signs of the “little beast” if found in a vineyard.
In those early days table wine consumption was a significant part of Argentinian culture although the wine itself was not always great, production was high. Having said that most of the wines were very average, there was the odd exception, but by the 1990s new internal investment and Flying Wine Makers from Australia arrived. The Flying Wine Makers used their experience in many countries to clean up wine making and get the best from the juice to make more desirable wines with better flavour and finesse. Over the following years this brought Argentina onto the world map of wine producing countries with a serious hat on.
Argentina enjoys the highest commercial vineyards in the world at 1700 metres above sea level at Cafayate in the north down to a more modest (but still high) North Mendoza 650 metres, and outlying areas back up to over 1000 metres, this cooler climate helps with the aromatics of the wine. Amongst all the wine regions in Argentina Mendoza is by far the biggest; and probably accounts for more than two-thirds of the total wine production and so is the country’s most important region while Malbec is its most important grape variety. It is easy to see why this country’s wines are growing in popularity, with stylish aromatic whites and the world’s finest Malbec. Here at Tolchards our selection of Malbec’s range from house wines to wines of distinction.
When Pascual Toso set out from Piamonte in Italy in the min 1880s I bet he never thought he would be setting up one of Argentina’s oldest and most prestigious wineries. Their top end Malbec’s are certainly one for the connoisseur while their mid-range just shows more affordable excellence.
The Pascual Toso Estate Cabernet Sauvignon is well above the normal Cabernet quality. Finca del Alta not only produce a pure Malbec but also a lovely blend of Malbec and Merlot the latter grape really softening the texture.
Take a peep at the Alto de Mayo Malbec not only a modern label, but modern wine making produces this full bodied wine with hints of vanilla, blackberry, and plums, together with a soft silky finish and a price that won’t break the bank. As the reds are by far the most popular we mustn’t forget the Finca del Alta Chardonnay Chenin Blanc a light delicate aromatic wine with hints of tropical fruit.