Gonzalo Carrasco, senior winemaker at Terrazas de los Andes, swung through Dallas recently and wowed me with a tasting of his reserva and single-vineyard offerings. These are widely available across the country, and I recommend all of them. Not only are they definitive expressions of Argentinean malbec and cabernet sauvignon, but they are also stunning values. The latter is in large part due to the strength of the U.S. dollar against the peso — which is also a good reason to scoot down to Argentina this winter (which is summer there) for bargains in luxury hotels, impressive restaurants, and other world-class wines.
All the wines Carrasco poured for me are current releases. We started with the mid-tier reserva varietals, malbec and cabernet sauvignon, from 2015, followed by two single-vineyard examples from the same grapes — the 2013 Las Compuertas malbec and the 2013 Los Aromos cabernet.
Both the reserva and the single-vineyard malbec were fine examples of the fruit-driven, velvety-tannin style we are used to from Argentina. The difference essentially came down to two words: intensity and complexity. The Las Compuertas — the name refers both to the vineyard and its appellation — enchanted the palate with the fruit and the earthy, peppery notes it exuded. At around $52 a bottle, it is classic, high-scoring malbec (95+ points on many scales) at something close to an affordable price. The reserva — a 90+ wine — was an absolute bargain at about $17. Sommeliers reading this should consider it for their lists, including by-the-glass selections.
The cabernet sauvignon choices were even more attractive, since they could be directly compared to other New World examples of the grape (here’s looking at you, California). The reserva ($19) could have been from Napa or Sonoma. It had forward, dark fruit, silky tannins, and enough backbone to pair with any red meat. The single-vineyard Los Aromas ($48), from Luján de Cuyo, was the most complex and bewitching of the four wines that Carrasco served. It should age for a decade without signs of decline, but is also wonderful to drink now.