Argentine wine flaunts the value of high-altitude grapes
The reason that Argentina makes such good wine is the same reason that mountain-grown coffee is better.
The finest coffee beans come from altitudes above 3,000 feet. At this level, the beans ripen slower, light angle is better, nights are cooler, and water runs off leaving the smaller coffee bean less porous and more flavorful - basically more concentrated.
The 2010 Allamand Cabernet Sauvignon ($13) flaunts the riches of high altitude. The vineyards are in the Andean foothills, about 50 miles from Mendoza.
The altitude for the vineyards range between 3,000 and 4,000 feet high, and the result is a delicious red that is fairly big (14.5 percent alcohol) but is neither dense nor overly ripe. The aromas slow down the drinking as they are really complex so one really lingers with this attractive nose. I found hints of spice box, tobacco, herbs and cherry juice that lead to a savory, ample, yet easy-going, silky wine with depth and concentration.
One of the things that attracted me to the wine was when I met Cristian Allamand, the owner and winemaker, at an event he kept talking about his wines having a “sense of place.” In case you are not aware of it, many of the world’s winemakers use that same term, or terroir, to tout their respective wines.
I think most of these folks use that term as a selling tool, but this wine shows off the region, and I think that is why Argentina does so well with malbec and cabernet as well. The winemakers let the grapes show off as opposed to oak, alcohol, ripeness, or power being the star.
Roger Gentile is the owner of Gentile’s, the Wine Sellers – www.gentiles.com – and the author of two books on wine.