Tag Archives: argentina

Winemaker profile: Matías Riccitelli, Riccitelli Wines

What does the name Matías Riccitelli mean to us, Riccitelli Wines and the wine industry as a whole? We have taken a look at the great man and his back story in our latest Winemaker Profile.

Matías Riccitelli, owner and winemaker of Riccitelli Wines, was born in Cafayate, Salta, a village in Northern Argentina, famous for its wines.

After moving to Mendoza when he was a few years older, he began to study winemaking. The rest is history!

Time spent completing vintages in numerous countries honed Matías’ skills. Following this, he decided that Mendoza was the region for him and decided to focus on exploring the terroir of the region, working as Chief Winemaker for two leading Argentinian wineries.

It’s a family affair! Matías was mentored by his father, Jorge Riccitelli, the first Latin American to win Winemaker of the Year from Wine Enthusiast. Winemaking accolades run in the family with Matías winning Tim Atkin’s Young Winemaker of the Year in 2016.

A keen traveller, he considers himself something of a dreamer and is now fulfilling his dream as Chief Winemaker of his own boutique winery – Riccitelli Wines – which he began in 2009. His vineyards are spread over 50 hectares and three sites within the premium growing region of Lujan de Cuyo, as well as vines in Río Negro, Patagonia. His aim is to use grapes from the most prestigious regions in Argentina and make wines in his own unique style. Matías puts his huge creative energy into creating wines with freshness and vibrancy.

Semillon, Torrontes and Chardonnay are all part of Matías’ exciting range of wines; he is hugely passionate about Argentinian white wines and believes they can retain great freshness and acidity if the grapes come from well-located vineyards.

 

For more information on Riccitelli Wines, speak to your account manager.

Malbec World Day

Malbec is Argentina’s flagship variety, and the country has the largest Malbec acreage in the world. This variety originally comes from South West France, where it is called Cot and features a hard, tannic style. Due to its intense colour and dark hues, wines obtained from this variety were once called “the black wines of Cahors.” These wines consolidated their prestige in the Middle Ages and gained full recognition in modern times.
Malbec by numbers:
  • In Argentina 3,948,716.512 hectares of vineyard are Malbec
  • 86% of all Malbec vineyards in Argentina are in Mendoza
  • In 1852, Malbec was brought to Argentina by Michel A. Pouget
To celebrate, here’s a couple to choose from our portfolio to choose from.

Doña Paula ‘Selección de Bodega’, Uco Valley, Malbec 2015

Region – Mendoza
Sub-region – Uco Valley
Grape Varieties – Malbec 100%

“A sumptuous and opulent wine showing rich black fruit flavours, a well textured palate with dark chocolate and earthy notes and an elegant finish.”

Andeluna ‘Altitud’, Uco Valley, Malbec 2015

Region – Mendoza
Sub-region – Uco Valley
Grape Varieties – Malbec 100%

“A full flavoured Malbec with intense aromas red fruits and violets combined with delicate hints of vanilla, coffee and chocolate. Sweet fruit on the palate is backed by soft, but high volume tannins which give the wine a long and exquisite finish.”

Matias Riccitelli ‘The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From The Tree’, Lujan de Cuyo, Malbec 2015

Region – Mendoza
Sub-region – Lujan de Cuyo
Grape Varieties – Malbec 100%

“Deep purple in colour, with beautiful aromas of wild dark fruits, vanilla and chocolate on the nose. This is a complex and rich Malbec with smooth ripe tannins and a long finish.”

Zorzal ‘Eggo Tinto de Tiza’, Tupungato, Malbec 2015

Region – Mendoza
Sub-region – Tupungato
Grape Varieties – Malbec 88%, Cabernet Franc 12%

“A deep, intense and complex example of a Gualtallary Malbec, with the typical aromas of chalk, flint, and mineral tones. Structured and voluminous on the palate with a silky texture, this is poised and direct, with a refreshing quality.”

Piattelli Vineyards, Trinità Grand Reserve, Lujan de Cuyo 2015

Region – Mendoza
Sub-region – Lujan de Cuyo
Grape Varieties – Malbec 72%, Cabernet Sauvignon 22%, Merlot 6%

“A complex, elegant wine with a deep ruby hue, Trinità tantalizes the senses with an aromatic bouquet of plum and raspberry with hints of coffee and spice, which unfolds across the palate with sweetness and a hint of chocolate. A balanced wine with ripe tannins, full body and a long finish.”

What would the experts recommend…

Doña Paula, Estate, Mendoza, Blue Edition 2016

Region – Mendoza
Grape Varieties – Malbec 60%, Pinot Noir 30%, Bonarda 10%

Terry Kirby, The Independent; “This gorgeously attractive and sumptous wine, where the fresh cherry fruits of pinot noir, as well as bonarda, are added to the mix. The slightly sweeter touch makes it a good match for a leg of lamb.”

Matias Riccitelli, Hey Malbec! 2016

Region – Mendoza
Sub-region – Lujan de Cuyo
Grape Varieties – Malbec 100%

David Williams, The Observer; “Not only has malbec from Argentina established itself as one of the UK’s favourite red grape varieties since 2001, it’s also vastly improved, with, in this case, young gun Matias Riccitelli bringing real purity of black fruit and perfumed succulence.”

 

Or something original…

Clos Troteligotte ‘K-nom’, Cahors 2016

Region – Cahors
Grape Varieties – Malbec 85%, Merlot 15%

“A modern styled Cahors with concentrated blackcurrant, menthol nuances and intriguing undertones of crystallised pineapple. Supple with soft, fine tannins, the aromas of fresh black fruits persist on the palate. Full bodied, but approachable with a textured finish.”

A Doña Paula Dinner

During our October of Mendoza madness and amazing Argentinians, Marcos Fernandez, head winemaker at Doña  Paula Wines, hosted an Argentine inspired wine dinner at the prestigious Lansdowne Club – below is how the evening looked.

Doña Paula is a leading, modern winery at the forefront of exploring and investing in new, high quality wine regions in Argentina. Established in 1997, they own all of their vineyards covering 700 hectares. These vineyard sites are located in the best subregions within Mendoza including Ugarteche, Altamira, Gualtallary and Tupungato. They practice sustainable methods in the vineyards, maximising the true expression of terroir. Their continuous innovation in vineyard management ensures top quality wines from one year to the next.

Empanadas
Beans, squash, corn, Queso Fresco
Shrimp, crab
Arepa Bites
Mango & chilli salsa, avocado cream
Chorizo & corn foam
Wine pairing: Sauvage Blanc, NV

What the guests thought: “Crispness and freshness of the wine, along with some good acidity worked a treat with the shrimp and crab Empanadas, and the mango and chilli salsa on the Arepa Bites.”

Seafood platter
Smoked salmon, prawns, crab croquette, chicory, tuna ceviche
Wine pairing: Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2016

What the guests thought: “The tropical fruit flavours, passionfruit and acidity were a hit with the tuna ceviche and the bitterness of the chicory.”

Beef fillet, grilled gambas, chargrilled seasonal vegetables, basil pomme purée, sweetcorn, chimichurri salsa
Wine pairings: Paula Malbec 2016
Estate Malbec 2015
Selección de Bodega Malbec 2013

What the guests thought: “The beef fillet with the chimichurri salsa was the perfect match to the weight and power of the 24 month aged Seleccion de Bodega. The guests loved being able to taste the 3 styles side by side. The Paula – fresh and with no oak, Estate Malbec with 12 months oak, and the Seleccion de Bodega with 24 months and it’s incredible intensity.”

The overall consensus from the guests was that this was the best Gourmet evening to date at the Lansdowne Club under Karim Yousfi’s direction and Marcos, as ever, was a hit with all!

WOTM: Piattelli Vineyards, Reserve, Cafayate, Malbec 2016

In a nutshell:

A smooth and refined Malbec with a fruity bouquet of ripe plum, violet and dried berries.

The producer

The Piattelli Vineyards lie in the foothills of the Andes Mountains, where the century old vines are irrigated by the pure waters melting from the snow crested peaks; a significant aspect in making their wines exquisite. At Piattelli Vineyards great pride is taken in crafting wines with a sense of place, as each region has distinct terroirs and microclimates. Mendoza and Cafayate are two of the best grape growing regions in Argentina and they wanted to showcase both. Led by head winemaker Valeria Antolin, the wines are produced through her passionate pursuit of perfection. Their gravity fed winery in Cafayate honours their commitment to sustainable practices. Piattelli Vineyards practises sustainable farming and their Mendoza vineyards are USDA certified organic. The grapes are cultivated with arid clean air, crystal clear water and nutrient rich soil and their award winning wines are produced with wisdom, precision and love.

The wine

The grapes were hand-picked and manually sorted to ensure no green material or imperfect fruit entered the must. The must underwent a three day cold maceration to extract the desired levels of flavour and aromatics. Alcoholic fermentation took place in 5,000 to 10,000 litre stainless steel tanks under controlled temperatures. The wine was aged for nine months in American oak barrels. The wine received a further six months bottle ageing

The tasting note:

A striking wine with a deep purple hue, the fruity aromatics of ripe plum and violet delight the senses. Full bodied, with bright fruit flavours of dried berries and pomegranate, the palate is marked by its structure. Intense and spicy on the finish.

Malbec, The Heart of Argentina

To celebrate Malbec World Day on 17th April and Malbec being the heart of Argentina we have selected a range of Malbecs that celebrate the essence of Argentina and will tantalise your tastebuds in April. 

Malbec is in the DNA of Argentina. It is grown in all the wine regions of the country, making up 35% of the hectares planted in Argentina.

 

2015 Piattelli Vineyards, Alto Molino Malbec

A vibrant unoaked Argentinian Malbec grown at high altitude, with its heady mix of plump, dark, brambly fruits, plum jam notes combined with sweet tannins and a velvety finish. The relatively cool climate gives a remarkably fine and elegant Malbec.

2014 Matias Riccitelli, The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From The Tree Malbec

A marvellous Malbec with explosive aromas of dark fruits and violets with impressive purity and length. All the hallmarks of world class Malbec from the young and innovative, Matias Riccitelli.

2015 Doña Paula, Estate Malbec Syrah

A more European take on Argentine Malbec. This Malbec Syrah blend, sourced from two of Doña Paula’s best vineyards in the Uco Valley, it is refined with a herbaceous character making this wine a perfect match with red meats and casseroles.

2014 Andeluna, Pasionado Malbec – Tim Atkin, 92 points

“The top Malbec at Andeluna (at least for now) is wonderfully fragrant and full of personality. It’s a big, bold wine showing masses of blackberry and liquorice notes, underpinned by the chalky acidity that’s such a strong feature of Gualtallary reds. The oak is  increasingly subtle on these wines”.

2015 Piattelli Vineyards, Malbec

Slightly smokey, with a fruity bouquet that delights the senses and warms the palate with notes of blackberries, blueberries and lavender. The ultimate steak wine!

2013 Doña Paula, Selección de Bodega Malbec

A blend of Doña Paula’s very best single vineyard estates from older and naturally lower yielding vines, which produce wines with great depth and complexity. The Seleccion is unfiltered giving even more character and concentrated black fruit and cherry flavours with a long and elegant finish.

2014 Andeluna, Altitud Malbec – Tim Atkin, 91 points

“Showing less oak, extraction and alcohol than in the recent past, this mid-level Malbec is aromatic, fresh and subtly oaked, with plenty of colour, aromas of violets and rose petal, sweet blueberry fruit and a chalky, minerally undertone”.

2015 Oveja Negra, Winemaker’s Selection Malbec Petit Verdot

Oveja Negra or Black Sheep is someone out of the ordinary who stands out from the crowd, like this Chilean Malbec Petit Verdot. It is tremendously aromatic and offers notes of violets intermingled with fresh black fruit aromas of 91 Points blueberries and blackberries.

And here’s a couple of suggestions from John Clarke, writing for The Independent:

2013 Dona Paula, Seleccion De Bodega 

“Sometimes you need a wine to push the boat out (rather than launch it, that would be a waste). This flagship wine, from the 1.35km-high Alluvia vineyard and the (only slightly less elevated) Los Indios and El Alto ones in Mendoza, does exactly that. It’s a layered and complex, full-bodied malbec with alluring dark fruit flavours, soft tannins and an elegant, lingering finish. Can be drunk now or will keep for several years yet.”

2014 Zorzal, Eggo Tinto de Tiza Tupungato 

“What comes first, the chicken or the eggo? Actually it’s all about the Eggo, since the name comes from the egg-shaped concrete vats the wine is matured in for a year without seeing a trace of oak. The result is a bright yet structured wine, bursting full of rich, dark fruit and berry flavours that has marked it out as one of Argentina’s most exhilarating malbecs. A wine to remember.”

WOTM: 2014 Altitud Malbec, Andeluna

To celebrate Malbec World Day on 17th April and Malbec, of course being the heart of Argentina, our Wine of the Month for April is a Malbec  with a head for heights, with grapes coming from vineyards located in Tupungato, Mendoza; 1.300 metres above sea level.

In a nutshell: 

A full flavoured and robust Malbec with plum, chocolate and vanilla oaky flavours and just a hint of eucalyptus.

The producer:

Andeluna was founded in 2003 by the late Ward Lay whose family had interests in many industries and companies including Frito-Lay and Pepsico. The winery and vineyards cover 70 hectares in the beautiful Uco Valley near Tupungato, one of the best sub-regions of Mendoza. By night you can often see the moon illuminating the magnificent Andes Mountains nearby and the winery has been named after this stunning scene. At an altitude of 1,300 metres these vineyards produce some of the best fruit in Argentina. Their winemaker, Manuel Gonzalez (previously Head Winemaker at Pulenta Estate and Chief Enologist at Trivento) works alongside Andeluna’s wine consultant Hans Vinding Diers making outstanding wines which have propelled this producer into the world spotlight in a very short space of time. Their Pasionado range is only made in exceptional vintages and rivals some of the great wines of the world.

The wine:

Berries were hand selected prior to vinifcation and underwent a pre-fermentation maceration at low temperatures. Fermentation took place with selected yeasts in stainless steel tanks at temperatures maintained at approximately 26°C . The wine was aged in French oak barrels for 12 months, followed by eight months in bottle, prior to release.

Tasting note:

A soft, supple Malbec with aromas of figs and plums, intermingled with notes of vanilla, coffee and chocolate. Sweet fruit on the palate combine with soft tannins and a long velvety finish.

The ideal match for steak, barbecued red meats or a rich lentil stew.

Try a new kind of sparkling… Doña Paula, Sauvage Blanc NV

In a nutshell:

Sauvage Blanc is Argentina’s first 100% Sauvignon Blanc sparkling wine, boasting intense aromas of orange blossom, with hints of grape fruit and an intriguing touch of mint.

The wine:

The grapes were carefully harvested to avoid oxidation during the third week of February. They were then cooled and softly pressed prior to a pellicular maceration which transferred the varietal characters from the skin to the must. Alcoholic fermentation was carried out at low temperatures in stainless steel tanks. A short secondary fermentation took place for the formation of the characteristic bubbles, the prise de mousse.63960---sauvage-blanc

Tasting note:

Pale and interesting, showing intense aromas of orange blossom, white peach, with hints of grapefruit and an intriguing touch of mint, it is crisp, lively and persistent on the palate.

Try it with:

The lively and refreshing apéritif perfectly accompanies rich fish dishes of salmon and tuna, or shell fish in a delicate cream sauce.

The producer:

Doña Paula is a leading, modern winery at the forefront of exploring and investing in new, high quality wine regions in Argentina. First established in 1997, they own all of their vineyards covering 700 hectares. These vineyard sites are located in the best sub-regions within Mendoza including Ugarteche, Altamira, Gualtallary and Tupungato.

They practice sustainable methods in the vineyards, maximizing the true expression of terroir. Their continuous innovation in terms of vineyard management ensures top quality wines from one year to the next.

Zorzal and the eggo

In beautiful downtown Luton our thoughts are turning to our annual tastings at the end of January and the introduction of new wineries to our list – and we have an absolutely beauty on the way.

Zorzal is a boutique Argentine winery founded in 2008 by the renowned Michelini brothers, definitely one of the most passionate winemaking families in this land of passion. We’ve been seeking to get a piece of their action for some time now, so this is cracking news. Winemaker Juan Pablo Michelini, a kind of new generationEggo_Filosopinot_eng “can-do” iconoclast, will be attending our tastings and I know our customers will love his zeal and fervour.

Juan Pablo’s philosophy is grounded in an absolute respect for terroir. His is a non-invasive winemaking philosophy that seeks purity of fruit before power. These are fantastically individual wines with a quite amazing minerality running through them (the notion of salted caramel keeps recurring every time I taste them).

They are in Gualtallary, 1,350 metres above sea level at the foot of the Tupungato volcano, on calcareous soil, with stones streaked with chalk – which may partly account for that minerality. A combination of altitude and desert climate make it an ideal place to cultivate grapes of exceptional quality.

The winery has the lot – state-of-the-art technology in crushing, fermentation and ageing. It was designed on four levels to move grapes and wines by gravity. It has an automatic system of temperature control from New Zealand, which can be operated via the internet from anywhere in the world. Juan Pablo and his brother Matias believe in roll fermenters and egg-shaped vats, as well as staggered harvesting and micro-vinification in casks.Eggo_Franco_eng

We are concentrating on the Eggo range. As the name suggests, these are wines vinified in eggs made of cement. Look out for a flinty Sauvignon Blanc, a gunpowder and graphite Pinot Noir, a piercing Bonarda, an herbaceous Cabernet Franc and an absurdly fresh Malbec.

All this is very well, but another Argentine producer on our list? Yes, I know. But, listen, trust me, these really are individual wines. Juan Pablo’s desire to stress maximum terroir means these wines are very different to the sometimes more power-driven Argentine offerings. It’s that minerality thing.

Argentina. Amazing country.

It’s funny how these things pan out, but a week or so ago I opened a bottle of the Malbec and drank it while reading Angels With Dirty Faces, Jonathan Wilson’s brilliant new history of Argentine football, which I’d been given as a Christmas present. It got me thinking: who would be the footballing equivalent of a Michelini? A bit daft, really, I thought, but the Malbec was beginning to work its magic. So, who was it to be? Maradona? Obvious, but, crikey, he comes with a lot of baggage. Messi? Another salient choice. But you could argue that, for all his dribbling brilliance, Messi hasn’t changed the way the game is played. So I rifled through the pages some more. And then it hit me. From another era, the man described by Sir Bobby Charlton as the greatest he’s ever seen: Alfredo di Stefano. Of course! He did change the way the game was played, as the fulcrum of the great Real Madrid team which forever transformed the face of football.Eggo_Blancdecal_eng

But I wanted further proof – and I got it, via the daily motion website.

So here is a mighty suggestion from the portfolio director bloke: open your own bottle of Zorzal, click on this link and watch di Stefano’s destruction of Eintracht Frankfurt in the 1960 European Cup Final. Take a sip and watch. There we go – see di Stefano’s delicious shimmy at 12:14 – was that the Sauvignon Blanc moment? Then comes his first goal at 21:34 – he starts the move in his own half, then is on the end of a cross to turn it in at the far post – the famous still picture of him balletically falling backwards in the art of scoring was to be reproduced all over the world – this is a Bonarda moment, I feel. Blink and you’ll miss it as he pounces like a cheetah! at 24:00 and scores his second goal – that would be the Cabernet Franc. And then watch his double step-over at 35:44, taking him past two clogging Frankfurters – yup, that’s the Pinot Noir moment. Finally – at 1:06 – that goal, the 40-yard sprint followed by a thunderous shot past the hapless Frankfurtonian keeper into the bottom left hand corner: definitely the Malbec moment.

I watched all night, God, what a player.

No doubt about it, Wilson’s book and the grainy black and white video, they are both life-affirming. But not as life-affirming as the bottle of Malbec. Definitely not as much.Eggo_Tintodetiza_eng

A week or so later, typing this account, I am more convinced than ever that this is an outstanding addition to our already brilliant line-up comprising Andeluna, Doña Paula, Matias Riccitelli and Piattelli. Our Argentine list is now arguably the most comprehensive in the country – in fact some people (the stock controller, for instance) would say that it’s a bit bonkers. But, you know, sometimes when you are faced with something this good, you need to stand up, be counted and bet like men!

Some Recommendations for International Cabernet Sauvignon Day

 

Tomorrow (30th August) is International Cabernet Sauvignon Day, which is great because:

a. it’s a Saturday
b. the weather looks good for a barbecue
c. do you really need another reason to open a bottle of Cab?

So, whether you’re barbecuing or not (but what better than a chargrilled steak to go with a glass of dense, fruit-packed Cabernet?) why not celebrate this landmark day in the wine drinking calendar by opening a bottle or two of the good stuff.

Here are some top recommendations from the team:

• Michel Torino Cuma Cabernet Sauvignon (organic), 2013
• Andeluna Cellars Altitud Cabernet Sauvignon, 2011
• Berton Reserve Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon, 2011
• Larry Cherubino Cabernet, 2009
• Carmen Cabernet Sauvignon Gran Reserva Maipo Alto, 2011
• Viña Perez Cruz Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva, 2012
• Chateau Ksara Cabernet Sauvignon, 2010
• Raymond Vineyards Family Classic Cabernet Sauvignon North Coast, 2012
• Viña Echeverria Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva, 2012