Saturday, June 19, 2021

Meet the producer, Alpasiòn Wines, Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina

In the context of the London Wine Fair 2021, we have been fortunate to receive some samples from a remarkable winery in the Uco Valley of Argentina.

Alpasiòn in their own words (from their website): The people behind this project are all wine lovers who decided to make a dream come true by making honest, iconic wines together. We decided to name our inaugural release “Alpasión,” a combination of the Spanish “alma” (soul) and “pasión” (passion). The Alpasión label features the fingerprints and signatures of all of the winery’s owners as testimony to friendship for life. The winery owns 85 hectares of land and although not certified just yet, Alpasión practices sustainable organic farming to ensure the health of soils, ecosystems and people. Even part of the vineyard is planted in the shape of a giant fingerprint.

Whataboutme? Sauvignon blanc 2019
Sauvignon blanc 100%. Zesty and citrussy, fresh aromas on the nose, followed by a clean taste in the mouth. A simple yet pleasant wine.
Score 80.

Whataboutme? Malbec 2019
Easy, round and mod long, typical malbec.
Score 86

Cabernet Sauvignon 2019
Ripe red fruits and plums. Excellent balance and length for this complex cab. It is still young, could age but it is good now. The best of the range.
Score 94

Malbec 2018
Easy and round, more complex aromas than Whatabaoutme? and surprisingly long.
Score 88.

Grand Malbec 2017
A wine that must wait, the tannins are still aggressive. Excellent potential, the fruit is there, so is the complexity. To drink in 3-4 years at least.
Score 90.

Grand Cabernet Franc 2018
Ripe fruit and plums. An opulent wine, very well balanced, which is not always easy with a cab franc. Deserves a wait, at least 3-4 years.
Score 90

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Meet the producer: Achaval Ferrer from Mendoza, Argentina

Achaval Ferrer (image from their website)

A producer from Argentina who is proud of carrying on a long, ultra-centenary tradition of wine making. Many vines are ungrafted, that is they were not touched by phylloxera and therefore had no need for grafting as most of the rest of the world.

In the works of Jevgenijs Suscinskis, who guided my tasting a few days ago and whom I would like to thank here, grafted vines give you a picture of the vineyard, ungrafted ones give you a movie! A film that does not last two hours but perhaps two centuries!

Here is the result of the tasting, very efficiently organized by MyOnlineFair:

Mirador 2014
malbec 100% from old vines, some  are 70-year-old plants on own roots.
A well balanced, dark ruby, round wine with lots of energy to offer.
15 months in french oak but one does not feel the wood much, excellent freshness is still there.
Score 89.

Bellavista 2014
malbec 100% from old vines, some up to 100 years old. 
Unfiltered and unfined it shows slight deposit. Violet black and red fruits emerge in the nose make for a fresher malbec compared to the previous one. Clearly this has further aging potential. This is an expensive bottle, around 100 Eur per bottle retail. Definitely worth it!
Score 95

Mendoza malbec 2018
malbec 100%
An interesting, moderately complex blend from grapes from different altitudes. A wine where the producer tries to offer the most typicity for the variety.
Score 88. 
rrp 18

Quimera 2013
45% malbec,19% cabernet sauvignon,18% merlot 18% cabernet franc
Warm blending of grapes in oak barrels to age together, an interesting method in stark contrast with most other blends where the individual varieties are vinified separately and blended at the end, prior to bottling.
Score 88

Cabernet Sauvignon 2017
cabernet sauvignon 100%
A majestic witn with long and perfectly balanced finish, due in large part, no doubt, to the 30 to 40-year-old vines from which it is produced. The wine was still excellent even after the bottle had been opened a few days (and closed after each tasting with vacuvin), long and balanced, even harmonious.
Score 93.

One word about pairing these and other Argentinian wines. Of course you will read all over the place how they go well with local food, especially famed beef from the pampas. Which it does, but this is very restrictive for the huge potential offered in these bottles.

At Jevgenijs' suggestion, I tried a pairing some of these wines with mildly spicy southern Chinese food and was very pleasantly surprised. The moderate body and smooth finish contrasts the mild (I repeat mild! Nothing can pair with very spicy food!) spices of Hunan cuisine.

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Sherry: a remote guided tasting with Diatomists

Today, as part of the London Wine Fair 2021, which had to be run online because of COVD restrictions,  Marco Carnovale of the italian Sommelier Association hosted a guided tour of Sherry wines with Thomas and Antonio, of Diatomists, a wide importer of Sherry to the UK. Below is a video of the tasting. 

As they explain on their website: Diatomist is the name given to those who master the art of diatom arrangement. Diatoms are single cell algae that create complex glass shells around themselves. 5 million years ago Jerez was under water which explains the unique and exceptional soil rich in diatom fossils.

These hidden microscopic marvels are essential for the vines to thrive in a hot climate with dry summers and sporadic heavy rainfall. The soils’ porosity locks in the moisture providing essential water reserves for the vines to thrive during the long and sunny growing-season. In fact, the quality of the soil can be quantified by its diatoms.

We tasted three wines: 

A fresh and fruity sherry to be enjoyed with a meal of light structure. Score 88

A more complex wine that may easily hold its own alone or be paired with a substantial meal of fish or white meats. Score 90

A rich and powerful sherry, intense in color, aroma and taste. Perfectly married with dessert or enjoyed alone. Score 94

Any further information contact Antonio and Thomas at