I spent the month of November in Argentina, sampling the many different wines they have to offer. Argentina might nail its flag to Malbec but they also do many other types of wine. From Pinot Noir to Syrah, Cabernet Franc to Tempranillo and many others in between.
They don’t seem to export many of the other varietals to the UK so rather then stick to Malbec, of which there is plenty of excellent quality wine floating about, I’ve decided to stick my neck out now and then and try some of the other varietals that Argentina produces.
I’m staying with friends and one of them, Monika, brought home a Tempranillo from Mendoza to have with dinner one night. Most of you are probably familiar with Tempranillo being the grape that’s used to make the wines of Rioja in Spain. Those wines usually spend a lot of time in oak and often have those vanilla, toasty, buttery, earthy flavours associated with barrel aging.
In Argentina, they also barrel age their Tempranillos but not always and usually not for the lengths of time that they do in Spain. Spanish Riojas can spend up to 5 years in oak which is a long time but then again, if you’ve ever had young Rioja, you can see why it benefits from years in oak. It can be rough and jarring when young; it’s only after resting for at least a couple of years that Rioja obtains that velvety smoothness that I always associate with it.
The first Tempranillo was from Mendoza: the 2008 Finca Gabriel. Aged only 6 months in oak, it was a delightful little wine; juicy with excellent structure, not much on the nose but on the palate, red and black cherry, a hint of toast with a nice round mouthfeel to it. Good acidity also helped it along and with our antipasta of salami and cheese, it was a good accompaniment, the fruit in flavours of the wine coming out. Here was a food wine – always something I look for in a wine.
The second Tempranillo I had a few days later in a concert hall listening to an orquestra tipica. Orquestra tipicas are unique to Buenos Aires, the birthplace of tango. Many years ago, the tango was danced to the accompaniment of the bandeon, (a type of accordian,) the piano and violins. Times change and the traditional orchestras have died out (well,the men who played in them have anyway) and for a while there it seemed liked the music would die with it but over the last 15 years or so, the young have taken up the traditional instruments and now play that traditional music but with a twist. They still use the same instruments but have updated the music for modern ears.
(Here’s a clip from YouTube: Fernandez Fierro, orquestra tipica argentina.)
They don’t sell many wines at the concert venue we went to but the 2008 Trapiche tempranillo was one of them and since Monika likes Tempranillo we went for that one.
I don’t know if it was because we were listening to the music or the atmosphere of the venue but I enjoyed this wine so much more. When I actually thought about it, it was nothing spectacular, fruity, medium bodied, easy drinking but then again sometimes we (I) can over-analyse a wine. So maybe this was not the best example of wine that Trapiche makes; they do very good Malbecs, but it was most enjoyable for the time and occasion and isn’t that what wine is all about?