The journalist of the International Wine Cellar, Stephen Tanzer, published last week the results of the tasting of Argentine wines carried out between December and the end of February 2013.
In this article, he shared his thoughts about the wines he tasted. In this respect, he pointed out “The reds of Argentina rank among the world’s great wine bargains. The country offers a host of outperformers in the $15 to $20 range– satisfying, rich reds that can compete against top cabs from California at two or three times the price. Whether it’s 88-point wines for $12, 89-pointers for $15, or 90-pointers for $20, these wines are very difficult to beat for value.”
However, his appreciation was not that good for those wines priced at $50 and up. “Some Argentine wines that retail for $50 and up are no better than their cheaper shelfmates: in many cases, they are “show-me-the-money” wines made from overripe fruit, overly extractive vinification, or too much time in too much new oak.”
“In my tastings this year, I once again found myself scoring many Argentine malbecs around 88 points–that is, very good wines that I would happily drink, assuming the price is right. But these 88-pointers fall short of outstanding for a variety of reasons. Some are chunky, while others are green-edged or show underripe/overripe character. Other wines lack shape, or refinement, or depth. Many of these wines could use a bit more complexity. Some finish with drying tannins or apparent alcoholic warmth.”
As regards oak, he highlighted that “I continue to taste wines made with less-than-ideal cooperage, as well as others whose material is muddled or overshadowed by too much new oak.”
Among the exponents that called his attention, Tanzer found some Bonardas “with more refinement than previously. But while the variety is clearly capable of making some very good wines, I see little sign that this grape has the inherent complexity to make wines of serious interest to export markets, especially when there are so many good and cheap Malbecs available.”
Finally, he added: “I also tasted a handful of intriguing, firmly structured yet velvety Cabernet Franc bottlings at very reasonable prices. Cabernet Sauvignon continues to improve in Argentina, and in several cases I preferred these wines to their Malbec siblings from the same wineries. There is tremendous potential upside for Cabernet in Argentina, but in Mendoza’s very dry climate east of the Andes, the challenge is to make wines that avoid dry tannins.”