Wine Tasting in Buenos Aires

Wine Tasting in Buenos Aires

In deciding to visit Buenos Aires, there were two things I knew I must do: eat steak and drink wine. There was no sense in wasting time, and within hours of landing, I’d indulged in a massive slab of medium rare beef and found myself in the Palermo Soho loft of Anuva Wine for a tasting.

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The term ‘tasting’ may be a bit of an understatement. With Anuva’s generous and unlimited pours, it’s more like a ‘guzzling’ for those of us without much self-discipline {me}. Technically, an Anuva tasting includes five glasses, but I know I drank much more during the two hours. Luckily for me, booze is not the only thing served. Each label is perfectly paired with Argentine tapas, and for $52, that’s likely the best deal in all of Buenos Aires.

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Although Anuva can arrange for an all-red tasting, I didn’t go that route. You see, I don’t discriminate based on color—white, rose, or red—if it’s good wine then I’ll certainly drink it. Though it must be said, that I prefer red, even during a blazing-hot Texas summer. Call me crazy.

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The wines presented at the tasting come from some of the best small-production boutique wineries in Argentina and are unavailable in the United States. What that means is that unless I spend a year traipsing through all the wine growing regions of Argentina, I will have never seen, tasted, or even heard of any of the wines before. That prospect was appealing since I’ve sort of made it my mission to taste every Argentine Malbec after discovering it a few years ago.

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The tasting began with bubbles, as most great evenings do. The sommelier, Cara, chose a 2011 Hom Espumante sparkling wine produced in Mendoza by Cava la Carmela. With 70% Chardonnay and 30% Chenin Blanc grapes, this extra brut sparkling wine smells of citrus and has a light taste. Served with a crostini topped with pear and walnut, two full glasses of Hom were required to make sure I truly liked it. This was all in the name of research, of course.

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Round two was a 2012 Laborum Single Vineyard Torrontés, which served as my introduction to Argentina’s signature grape. Grown in Salta in the northern region of Argentina, these Torrontés vineyards are the highest in the world, located 9,000 feet above sea level. One sniff of the wine left me thinking it would be sweet, almost like a dessert wine. Instead, it was tart. After readjusting my taste buds and taking another couple of sips, I quite liked Torrontés. However, I didn’t appreciate its voodoo trickery. To counteract the acidic taste, it was served with a duo of sorbet, which made for an inspiring combination.

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The remaining three wines were red and paired with a cheeses, meats, chutneys, and bread. The first of the reds was a 2005 Mairena Bonarda. Known as Douce noir in France and Charbono in California, Bonarda is the #2 grown variety in Argentina. Producing only about 15,000 bottles per year using estate fruit grown next to the Andes, Mairena’s Bonarda tasted of vanilla and wild berries, two flavors I quite enjoy. And since I’m a sucker for a cute label, I appreciated the sketch of the vintner’s daughter on this one.

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Malbec literally translates to ‘bad beak’ in French, which likely got its name for the tendency to be diseased and rot in the Bordeaux region. This thin-skinned grape didn’t perform well in Bordeaux, but it flourished in the dryer climate of Mendoza.

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Apparently in Argentina, 2011 was a very good year, as evidenced by San Gimignano’s Malbec Roble. Proving that good things come to those that wait, San Gimignano aged this Malbec for twelve months in French and American oak. Flavors from dark fruits like blackberries mingle with cinnamon and nutmeg to create this addictive smoky, full-bodied wine. This was easily my favorite of the evening and was served with a traditional Argentine empanada.

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Last but not least came a 2010 Malbec known as the ‘chocoholic’ wine, Finca Deneza Guarda from MarinaE. Started by a French couple in 2003, MarinaE produced only 3,500 bottles of this special Malbec using 90-year old vines. Matched with truffles, the wine not only smells like chocolate, but also has a chocolate flavor mixed with plums and black currants. I particularly enjoyed this wine as an alternative to a super-sweet dessert wine. Often those taste like I’m drinking a glass of Aunt Jemima, and I prefer to keep syrup on my waffles, thank you very much.

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The tasting drew to a close around 8:00, which incidentally is still about three hours before a true Argentine eats dinner, and order forms were passed around the table. The cool thing about Anuva is that all the bottles tasted are available for purchase [obviously}, which comes in super handy since they’re not available in the United States. What I can truly appreciate is that the company ships to the US. This eliminates the risk of  a wine-soaked suitcase nor am I limited by the pesky alcohol policy of one bottle per person on the flight home. Anuva also has a wine club for those who are completely smitten with Argentinian wines {me}.

Wine…like I need another reason to return to Argentina.

I was a guest of Anuva Wines, but in no way I was a swayed to write a positive review based on the bottomless glasses of wine, cool Palermo Soho loft, or mango sorbet. As always when it comes to wine, I’m only influenced by my taste buds and the severity of my headache the following morning.

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