2017 was a cracking year for Chile and Argentina. I’ve always had a love of the Argentine wines and Cheval des Andes is just next level.
Cheval des Andes Malbec 2017, and all wines are eligible for at least 5% off any six bottles. And 10% off any 12 bottles. Some wines will be at a more significant discount and not subject to further discounts.
Pierre Lurton from Cheval Blanc went to Argentina to find the history of Malbec. Argentina had plantings of old clones from before phylloxera. What Pierre found was a brilliant site that was planted in the 1920s. He formed a partnership with Terrazas de Los Andes, and Cheval des Andes was born. A classy wine that screams high altitude elegance and perfume with the structure and age-worthiness of great Bordeaux.
Cheval des Andes Mendoza 2017 Wine Review
“This is the greatest Cheval des Andes ever. Discrete aromas of blackberries, flowers, stone and licorice. So perfumed. The integration of fruit, tannins and acidity is fantastic. Full-bodied, tight and solid with beautiful depth and integrity. Extremely long and exciting. Complex and compelling with such refinement and length.”
Without question the jewel in the crown of Argentina. A large region. Lots of young and innovative producers have moved in and are slowly mapping out sub-regions and single vineyards of note. Look out for great Malbec, but lots of experimentation means you can find all sorts of beautiful wines.
You are most likely to find Malbec in Argentina rather than its native South West France. A minor player in Bordeaux and the major grape in the underappreciated Cahors. It has long been the star of Argentina. Intense, tannic, dark-fruited wines with nice acidity. Perfect match for a country that consumes a lot of meat. One of the lesser reds of the Bordeaux pantheon due to fickle performance, in Cahors it is the basis for the charmingly rugged Black wine. Also known as Cot and Auxerrois.
The noble variety of Bordeaux’s left bank. Firm tannins, a streak of acidity and punctuated by flavours of cassis, violets, spice and leather. The best examples can age for the long-term. Although Cabernet does often require blending with Merlot, Cabernet Franc or Shiraz to fix the hole it has in its middle palate.
Often the fifth wine on the depth chart of Bordeaux’s magical quintet. In the great years, it is an amazing variety to work with, but often in the great years, it is not needed. It can add body, structure and acidity but lacks some charm for a single variety wine. But in the hands of a skilful blender, it can lift a wine or in some cases, a particular site can make Petit Verdot sing a song like no other.
A country that has been growing vines since the 1500s but only really focussing on quality since the 1980s. It’s a shame because Argentina is close to the perfect place to grow grapes on the planet.
The Andes mountain range is to blame. The average elevation for vineyards in Argentina is about 900m, meaning they have the world’s highest vineyards. The height provides warm days and cold nights that lead to a long and slow ripening period that retains beautiful acidity in the wines. The dry and cold air from the snow-capped mountains alleviates any disease pressure, and the snow melts provide plentiful irrigation resources for a country that doesn’t see much rainfall. The grapes tend to get a lot of exposure to UV from the sun, which means they naturally develop thicker skins, leading to more tannin and flavour compounds.
The other strength of Argentina is the vine stock. Having had vines in the ground for a long, long time, they have managed to work out what grows well where and the vines have even started to evolve to suit the climate. Being able to access such material for planting new vineyards is a priceless resource.
The bountiful water and lack of disease mean that harvesting grapes happens when they are fully ripe and in pristine condition. The old winemaking saying goes “you can’t make great wine out of poor grapes.” That, combined with flavour-packed grapes and some modern know-how means you get quite a good deal when buying quality wine from Argentina.
Wine is the result you get from fermented grape juice. There is proof of wine production dating back 8000 years ago. Fashions, innovations and many other factors have influenced the way wine has evolved over the years.
The wine grape is impressive. It contains everything you need to make grape wine except for the yeast, which lives on the outside of the skins.
Human inputs can influence the final product, including the viticulture (growing) choices. And the winemaker can shape the wine to a point too.
The best wines of the world often refer to terroir. Terroir is a French term that refers to all the climatic, geological and topographical influences on a specific piece of land. And it is true that neighbouring vineyards, grown identically, can taste noticeably different.
Fun fact; most of the colour for wines comes from the skins. There are only a handful of grapes that have red juice. Alicante is the most well known of these grapes.
By macerating the juice on the skins, the wine gains tannins, and flavours. Certain compounds change the chemistry of the wine too.
Red wines tend to have higher alcohol. More tannin and more oak flavours compared to other styles of wine. But the thousands of grapes and terroirs they grow in influence this.
The Wine Depository
I, Phil, have been running The Wine Depository since 2011. The Wine Depository exists to make sure you are drinking the good wines. You can browse and pick what is interesting to you. Or you can make contact with me. I’ll make sure you get what you want, to your palate, to your budget and to your door.