Mendoza Argentina, $23
Tasting a wine without knowing the grape or the origin is great way to get to the gist of what it’s all about, but almost as useful is tasting a wine without knowing how much it costs, a fact that was illustrated for me at a tasting last week. It was the wines of high-end Argentinian producer Finca Decero and as I listened to their CEO and marketing exec talk about the expensive French oak they use and about the fantastically labour intensive manner in which they grow and harvest grapes—lots of expensive human hands at work here—I pigeonholed their wines at the upper echelon of the Argentine market—somewhere in the $50 dollar range. That’s high for Argentina, to be sure, but mid-market these days for Californian and cheap for Bordeaux. Tasting them, I wasn’t disappointed—their Cabernet Sauvignon was muscular without being overbearing with a rich finish that went on and on, and the Malbec had a silky lightness to it that was restrained and admirable. The Malbec had such a lovely floral, almost fresh mint character that I could see why it is becoming the favourite of sommeliers who want to steer the traditional Malbec lovers into a more deft and complex example of the grape. I made a note that, given their price, neither was likely to become regular sippers they were a sure sign of the advances the Argentines are making at the high-end.
And then I found out the wines were $23. It was like marrying a girl for love, only to find out at the alter that Bill Gates is her dad. I don’t know how they can make wine of this quality for this price—note to BC winemakers, stay away from Malbec—but as long as they do, they’ll have a serious convert in me. Simply amazing value.