Gouguenheim Cabernet Sauvignon, Valle Escondido, Mendoza, Argentina 2013 (£8.40, Tanners Wines; £8.59, Adnams) There is, sadly, a familiar ring to the current news coming out of Argentina’s wine industry. Thousands of growers took to the streets in the country’s wine capital, Mendoza, this month to protest at a lack of government help to combat the malign affects of rampant inflation, challenging exchange rates and slowing exports. Many fear for their livelihoods. Good reason then to try out some of the country’s excellent bottles, starting with this beautifully fragrant and genuine bargain cabernet from high-altitude vines in Mendoza.
Catena DV Cabernet Franc, Mendoza, Argentina 2012 (£9.99, Tesco) Like every producer in the sub-regions of Mendoza, Gougenheim also does a neat line in malbec (try the sinuous, juicy Escondido Malbec 2013 for £6.99, also at Adnams). But few have done more to promote the country’s signature red grape variety than Catena. Led by the economist Dr Nicolás Catena, the company makes superb examples ranging from the budget (Tesco Finest 2013; £7.99) to the sumptuous (Catena Alta Malbec 2011; £27.95, Slurp). Chardonnay is another speciality, while the herbal freshness of cabernet franc is beautifully rendered in this silky red at Tesco.
Trivento Amado Sur Torrontés/Viognier/Chardonnay, Mendoza, Argentina 2010 (£9.97, Asda) You can find attractive malbec at even more extreme altitudes at Salta, where power meets pure floral fruit in Bodegas Colome’s Estate Malbec, Calchaquí Valley 2012 (£15.60, Corking Wines). But this part of Argentina is better known for the aromatic whites made from torrontés. At their worst, torrontés wines have a talcum-powder perfume and oiliness, cut with bitterness. At their best, they are hibiscus-fragrant partners to Asian food (Tinto Negro Torrontés 2012, £11, Armit Wines). Trivento’s example from Mendoza is a spicy, floral alternative to the rich whites of Alsace.