Friday, October 17, 2008

Meet The Press

Here we continue with our series "Where Wine Comes From" and explore one of the many interesting pieces of the wine puzzle; The Press. Watch this short video for an informative look at the subject.


On another note, see the notes below for some information on Argentinean Wines, and why Argentina just may be the most exciting wine producing country in the world right now.


The Wines of Argentina

Among the worlds wine producing nations, Argentina is amongst the most interesting and exciting of recent memory. The explosion over the past 5-10 years of terrific Argentinean wine available in this country has been simply awesome. I remember a time when the few lucky travelers who made their way to this vast and varied country would come home with stories of two things: The amazing grass fed beef they enjoyed at local eateries and the incredible wines that accompanied these meals.

At the time there was an awareness of Chilean wines, but few of the wines people tasted in Argentina made their way into our country. Today, what decent restaurant doesn’t have at least one Malbec, Argentinas most important red varietal, on their wine list?! And the value of these wines is unbeatable. Perhaps more than any other country the quality to price ratio is greatest here.

What has made Argentina so exciting over the last years? It is a country that has attracted more outside winemakers than perhaps any other with American, French and Italian producers buying vineyards to take advantage of what makes this place a playground for winemakers.

This influx of new money and technology has certainly had an impact on the world consciousness of Argentinean wine, but what brought them there in the first place? Like all wine stories it starts in the vineyard and the land to which those vineyards are planted.

The vineyards of Argentina are planted along the western edge of the country on the eastern slopes of the Andes Mountains. It is very dry there which is good for grape growing, however there is ample water supply from the run-off from the Andes if one were to need to irrigate. This gives the winemaker complete control over the water supply that feeds her vineyard.

In addition, there are many microclimates as one moves from the valley floor up the mountains. The vineyards of Argentina are planted from 300 meters to 2400 meters above sea level, a greater range than any other wine region in the world. Thus the winemaker has many choices on what to plant and what styles of wine he wants to produce. Certain grapes thrive in the heat of the valley floor, while others produce better in the cooler climate higher on the mountain slopes. Stylistically the wines vary from region to region as well, the warmer lower elevation tend to produce fuller, richer wines while the cooler locations lighter wines with more finesse.

The Wines
The two wineries we want to highlight today are two of our very favorites at Sam’s Wine Shop in terms of quality and value. Alfredo Roca produces great wines that epitomize the value of Argentinean wines. Situated in Mendoza at 800 meters above sea level the winery is in the heart of Argentinean wine country.

Bodegas Benegas is located on the Upper Mendoza Riverbank, in the MaipĂș region, Mendoza. This land was chosen by Tiburcio Benegas at the beginning of the last century to plant the vines he brought to Argentina, mostly from France. Today they produce extraordinary wines that compete with any modern wines throughout the world.

Alfredo Roca Chenin Blanc/Chardonnay $7.99 A blend of 70% Chenin Blanc, 30% Chardonnay. Light with a hint of peach undertones.

Alfredo Roca Sauvignon Blanc $7.99 Bright and crisp with a hint of grassiness.

Bodegas Benegas, “Clara” Chardonnay $11.99 Un-oaked Chardonnay, a young, delicate wine with the light flavor of pears or apples.

Solemne Torrontes $9.97 This is made from Argentina’s unique white grape 100% Torrontes, a wine with flavors of apricot and the aroma of gardenias.

Alfredo Roca Pinot Noir $9.99 100% Pinot Noir, grown in the highest vineyards

Alfredo Roca Malbec $7.99 A great value, perhaps Argentina’s most important red grape varietal

Bodega Benegas Cabernet $12.99 Full rich and very smooth, a supple easy wine for any occasion

Bodega Benegas Don Tiburcio $14.99 A blend of Cabernet, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Malbec this wine is full bodied and complex, yet very round on the palate

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