Tim's Blog

Argentina vs Germany


No, not a football match, but the last topics for our monthly tastings at Richmond and Teddington Wine Societies.  At our Modern Germany tastings in April we covered, as would be expected, some superb whites, but not all were Riesling!  We tasted a lovely Pinot Blanc (Weissburgunder in German) from the Mosel and a Gewürztraminer from the Pfaltz plus of course Rieslings from Baden and the Mosel.

The reds were a very interesting revelation on how little we know about the quality of red winemaking is high and rising in Germany.  The Trollinger grape is little known.  Mainly grown in Württemberg, they are often vinified sweet, but the one we tried was dry and had great fruit and good structure.  A Pinot Noir and Dornfelder completed our red tally and we finished our tastings with a glorious Auslese Riesling from Rheinhessen.

The Argentina tastings in May/June took us on a ranging tour of this ever evolving wine nation.  Furthest south was a very good Trousseau from Patagonia (a Jura red variety, also known as Bastardo in northern Portugal, with a tiny presence in Madeira), furthest north were a Torrontés/Riesling and a Malbec from Salta.  In between the whites were probably the most interesting (Argentina is in danger of being branded a land of big reds).  A pure Torrontés from Cafayate Valley south of Salta was particularly aromatic, with a long finish, while the Chenin Blanc from the Uco Valley (south of Mendoza) presented the biggest challenge to perceptions, slightly cloudy in appearance with a vegetal, almost boiled cabbage, nose (possibly attributable to 20 days of skin maceration), and a palate that didn’t compensate sufficiently.  The Chardonnay from the neighbouring Tupungato Valley was much more to everyone’s liking, and the surprise of the night at Richmond was the Pedro Ximénez (yes, that Pedro Ximénez, the one from sherry) which we had as a quaffing wine and presented a floral, slightly pithy nose, and a very acceptable palate.

Among the reds, as the prices ratcheted up our judgements soared but our intention to buy declined.  There is without doubt some fantastic Malbec coming out of Argentina, but at £40-£90 a bottle it needs to be even better to compete in the price bracket.  The Kaiken Cabernet Franc from the Uco Valley was worth laying down, but only if you had £27.50 to spare.  Luckily the straight Malbec Barrancas and the Malbec/Bonarde/Petit Verdot blend (both from the Mendoza region) at around a tenner a bottle presented attractive, structured wines that went very well with food and showed off Argentina’s appeal brilliantly.

All the wines are listed on the Wines we have tasted page.