The best red wines from Argentina compete with the best of the world, and Malbec is a world-renowned red grape variety. A question mark remains, however, on their ability to age. In the latest issue of Club Oenologique magazine, South American wine expert Tim Atkin MW looks at some of the famous names in Argentina and whether the best red wines are suitable for long ageing.
Tasting a 1983 Cavas de Weinert, Atkin was struck by its relatively low alcohol level – 13% – but even more impressed that the wine was ‘fresh, balanced and gloriously alive as it approached its 40th birthday’. However, he acknowledges that ‘well-cellared old reds like this are surprisingly rare’ and admits that Argentina still has an image problem when it comes to ageability.
But the tide is turning, and thanks to new techniques, different vineyard locations, and harvesting grapes earlier than before, there’s a new focus in Argentina on creating fresher, more elegant red wines designed to age for a very long time.
The top estates of Bordeaux, who know a thing or two about how to make ageworthy red wine, were quick to notice Argentina’s potential. Both Cheval Blanc and Lafite are involved with high-class Argentine wine estates: Cheval des Andes and Caro respectively.
And the grapes leading the charge in Argentina are originally from that iconic French region. Malbec is the star and Cabernet Franc’s reputation is on the rise, either made as a straight varietal or used as a blending partner.
Below, Atkin has chosen seven superlative red wines from Argentina all of which will improve over time. ‘The number of top reds – and the enormous range of styles they cover – is greater than it has ever been,’ he says. ‘And for now, most of them are comparative bargains. What’s not to like about that?’