Malbec, 1979. Bodegas Santa Ana| Vintage Wine History and Information

by Paul Kalemkiarian Sr | August 1984

Argentina is a giant in the world of wine. Its production is the fourth largest in the world. (Only France, Italy, and Spain produce more wine.) The quality and taste of wine from Argentina, to European American palates, has improved significantly. We are sitting up and paying attention because the prices are so favorable when you input the value index.

From the Argentinians’ perspective, he or she keeps consuming all they can make! Their wine suits them just fine! The annual per capita consumption of wine in Argentina is 85.7 liters. The U.S.A. figure is 6.53 liters, and the French is 103.7 liters!

I have been tasting all the examples of Argentinian wines I could locate in our market, since our February ’82 feature of Malbec, 1977 – Canto Rodado Flichman, which was a Heublein Rare Wine Auction find at the time. Again, a Malbec variety has come forth as outstanding. To our standards, the red Argentine wines seem to be better than the whites. Whether this is due to the frailty to travel of their white wines, or just local palate dictations, remains a question. However, this month’s red is superb and when you take the price into consideration, it is a real value for its style. Our selection is produced by Bodegas Santa Ana which was founded in 1891 by Luis Tirasso, one of the Pioneers of Argentine winemaking. Today the Basso and Tonnelier families own and operate the winery in Villa Nueva, Guaymallen, a short drive from the city of Mendoza. Seventy per cent of Argentine wine is grown and made in this wine growing region. It is nestled in the foothills of the Andes Mountains in western Argentina. Irrigation was the missing ingredient in this climatically ideally situated, good elevation, arid land. Once water was introduced by an irrigation network, the soil proved itself.

The Malbec grape is very widely planted in Argentina. Even though it is one of the lesser important varieties from Bordeaux, France, it has adapted itself especially well to the Mendoza soil and climate. Everywhere else that is used, Australia, France (under 4 different names in different regions), California, Soviet Union, it is used mainly as a blend in minor proportions. I would say that the grape has achieved prominence in Argentina. In fact, one can say that it has achieved “varietal identity” in the hands of the Argentinean vintners. It typically has the cabernet family of flavors and character. Softer, milder, and the ability to mature relatively well when aged in oak.

Our wine is purplish ruby red in color. It has a low key aroma, with a varietal character showing. A bouquet has developed due its oak ageing, that has a “sweet” over¬tone. The taste is medium to full bodied, flavorful, with a robe of smoothness leaning to velvetiness.-(low acid). Finishes a little hot. There is a hint of herbaceousness that blends well with the flavor. Serve with casseroles, beef dip sandwiches, cheese.

Cellaring Notes: Will improve for 2 to 5 years.

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