No Spitting Allowed: Mendoza Wines with a European Touch
An occasional review of wines that find their way into our glass where they are tasted and toyed with before actually being consumed.
2010 DiamAndes de Uco Mendoza Viognier
The Bonnie family, which owns Pessac-Leognan’s Château Malartic-Lagravière, is a partner in the Michel Rolland Clos de Siete winery compound in southern Mendoza, and they are doing some really interesting things. Take this viognier from a grape not that common to the region. The wine is luscious with pollen-like aromas, flavors of white peach and apricot skins, and an under taste of dried herbs. True, it could use a touch more acidity, but I won’t quibble about that.
Verdict: Perhaps the best viognier I’ve tasted from South America, although that sample is relatively small. ($31)
2010 DiamAndes de Uco Mendoza Chardonnay
Another intriguing white — a complex one with “sweet” fruit at the beginning and a great savory finish of dried herbs, almost like garrigue. Long on the palate. Well-balanced.
Verdict: A great Incan two-step, deftly combining fruit and savory characteristics — a chardonnay that doesn’t fall into any easy categories. ($20)
2007 DiamAndes Mendoza Gran Reserva
A satisfying but brooding wine with a broad base of earthy, sooty, dark flavors with a perky red fruit layer floating just on top. Lean and long on the palate with dusty tannins around the edges. Still tight, but not hard to get to. It’s 70 percent malbec, and the rest is cabernet sauvignon.
Verdict: A big black wine more like the legendary malbecs of Cahors (though more elegant) than its lighter Mendoza brethren. ($40)
2010 DiamAndes de Uco Mendoza Malbec
OK, this one is more like the other Mendoza malbecs with straightforward dark cherry flavors and pleasant hints of a green briers. Not too complex, it is well-balanced and a good companion with dinner.
Verdict: Catches your attention with the first sip, then lets you get back to whatever you were doing. ($20)
2007 Cheval des Andes
Loads of purple and bright cherry fruits — we can pick a few violets in there, too — with some flavors of tobacco and other dried herbs in the finish.
Verdict: Not surprising, given its links to Château Cheval Blanc, this comes across as a very seductive Right Bank style of wine, though perhaps more like Pomerol than St. Emmy. ($80)