It was summer in Buenos Aires and we were experiencing a heat wave: temperatures at 35°C and above are not much fun unless you’re sitting by the pool.
Luckily, I’ve got a friend with a pool and so I went to visit her while I was there. Most people think: summer, hot, heat, need a white wine or a rosé to drink. Normally, I would concur but although Argentina does produce some very good white wines, their best efforts all go into the reds.
So what do you do? Buy a young red and chill it down, that’s what you do. People know that red wine should be served at room temperature. What they don’t realize is that the recommendation for room temperature comes from French cellars, where room temperature often refers to the cave which is usually around 15°C. 15°C is the average temp in winter in Buenos Aireas, not summer. When I checked the thermometer in the room I was in, the room temp was 24°C WITH the air conditioning on. So, into the fridge the wine went.
We were about to partake of the Santa Julia 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon. A young wine, harvest takes place in March of 201o and you can usually find the latest vintage by Nov/Dec of the same year. Santa Julia is the second line of the Familia Zuccardi winery. A well respected winery in Mendoza, they’ve been producing wine since the 1950s. Mendoza is known for its Malbecs but after speaking to many Argentine producers and sommeliers, it seems that Argentines themselves prefer Cabernet to Malbec. Malbec is seen as something to export, not drink with lunch or dinner.
With that in mind, I picked up the Cabernet to see how it compares. After about 20 minutes in the fridge, it had cooled down to an acceptable temperature: not cold but nicely chilled. I opened it, poured and tasted. In all honesty, I think the Argentines are right; I really loved the fresh fruitiness of the Cabernet along with pitch perfect acidity and tannins that were a bit more aggressive than your average Malbec.
Malbec is like smooth jazz whereas Cabernet is acid jazz – it’s got a groove going on. I still like Malbec but I might be seeking out more Argentine Cabernet in the near future.
Familia Zuccardi wines are available from various stockist in the UK.