Argentina Coming of Age ~ Tasting Bodegas Noemia 2012 from Patagonia… 

There is obviously a rich vein of South African wine content reviewed regularly on this blog. But even when I try and divert my stare, some kind of South African connection seems to find a way of sneaking into my non-SA wine reviews. Bodegas Noemia’s Hans Vinding-Diers is a South African born Dane who’s father Peter produced some epic wines at Rustenberg in the 1970s. Indeed, Hans was born on the Rustenberg estate in Stellenbosch. To complete the triangle, Hans is the cousin of renowned Danish winemaker Peter Sisseck.

Having made wine all over the world, Bordeaux trained Hans now plies his trade in the Rio Negro Valley 998km south of Buenos Aires in the middle of a desert. In this barren region, viticulture is only made possible by channel irrigation excavated in the 1820s by British colonists. The Andes snow-melt fed rivers of Neuquen and Limay supply the water for a growing season that varies in temperature between 28 and 9 degrees C.

After initially consulting for a local Patagonian winery, a two year search yielded the 1.5 hectare Mainque Vineyard of ancient and abandoned mostly Malbec vines planted in the 1930s and 1950s. In partnership with Countess Noemi Marone Cinzano, Bodegas Noemia produces three wines from fruit certified biodynamic since 2008. The range consists of Bodegas Noemia A Lisa, the J.Alberto and the flagship Noemia.

Bodegas Noemia Malbec 2012, Patagonia

Combining concentration and elegance, this wine is produced from 100% Malbec from 74 year old vines, which are aged for 18 months in new French oak. The 2012 has a deep purple black colour still and a nose of opulent floral savoury sappy black fruits, botanical herbs, burnt sugar, sweet plums, and strawberry confit. A real concentration of sweet berry fruits balanced by a bold, pronounced crisp acidity. There is beautiful complexity of sweet cherry, savoury cured meats, black berries, blood oranges and cognac spice. A powerful wine with precise refined tannins, fine freshness and an underlying mineral backbone on a very long finish. So characterful, slightly extrovert, but classically opulent. A masterclass in Malbec. 

(Wine Safari Score: 97/100 Greg Sherwood MW) 

Fabien Jouves’ Mas del Périé Cahors Amphore Malbec 2015 ~ Benchmark Biodynamic Cahors Red…

Mas del Périé is run by Fabien Jouves and is located on the Haut Plateau south west of Cahors in Trespoux Rassiels. The soils in the vineyards where the grapes for the Amphore Cuvee is made is a complex mix of clay and Limestone with iron. 

The vines are managed along organic and biodynamique principles and the fruit is handpicked and selected at the winery prior to fermentation in inert old oak Vats before transferring to amphorae for ageing and maceration for 6 to 9 months. The resulting wines are neither filtered nor fined. Fabien’s 5 years in Bordeaux also taught him a thing or two about how to manage the rustic Cahors tannins.

Fabien breaks most preconceptions about  French Cahors wines, creating such rich, mineral, textured expressions that are both modern, accessible and ageworthy at the same time. Not everything exciting happening with Malbec is taking place in Argentina…. Cahors offers some exceptional expressions. 

Tasting Note: Dense, overt style with lifted black berry fragrance, leafy ripe pithy plum skins and plenty of sappy black plum and blue berry crumble notes. Opulent, with a fleshy seamless texture, powdery tannins and a fresh, energetic intensity and pronounced black peppercorn complexity. Beautiful savoury nuances from the amphorae make this wine taste almost Northern Rhone in style. Such generosity, and drinkability, this Cuvee must be the best value for money style in Fabian’s whole range. (Wine Safari Score: 93/100 Greg Sherwood MW)