6/29/2012 10:31:00 AM Wine Review: Vintage Alamos wines arrive
Bennet Bodenstein Wine Columnist
Bargain hunters, pay attention: the latest vintage of Alamos wines from Argentina has arrived on our shores and they are better than ever.
Alamos wines have always been popular here because of the quality they offer at very reasonable prices. Their current releases are exceptional, and it seems as though they are getting better with each vintage.
Argentinian wines, especially those from Mendoza Province, not only retain the flavor and aroma specific to the variety, but also benefit from the mineralized rain water that runs down from the glaciers and snow fields of the Andes to irrigate the vines. This mineral element adds an extra layer of flavor to the wine and lifts it from the ordinary to the exceptional.
Modern growing techniques - combined with the latest advancements in wine making - has resulted in Argentinian wines moving out of the shadows of the great wine producing countries and becoming a serious contender for a place in their midst.
Alamos 2011 Malbec ($13) Let’s start with malbec, the wine variety that put Argentinian wine on the map.
This wine has taken the wine world by storm. Right now, vintners in California are pulling out their merlot and replanting with malbec.
Malbec had a spotted history in its original homeland of France, where it was used primarily as a blending grape to darken the color of red wines. In Spain, the wine fared little better being used in combination with other indigenous varieties to make common table wine. The early Spanish settlers brought the vine over to the New World as a source of sacramental wine for the church and table wine for the peons. When grown in Argentina, and in the hands of dedicated vintners, the variety truly shines.
The Alamos winemakers have produced a full-flavored wine; its deep violet color alone tells you that you are in for something different. The wine is alive with the flavors of plum and spice, with coffee and vanilla dancing in the background, continuing to a long finish where the fruit flavors really linger.
Here is another red wine that can accompany all of the red meat dishes as well as many Italian, Spanish or Argentinian dishes.
Alamos 2011 Torrontés ($13) The torrontés is another grape variety transplant from Spain when it was brought over to Argentina by the original Spanish settlers in the 1600s. This white variety also has prospered from its new Argentinian homeland.
The 2011 torrontés vintage produced a crisp, fruity white wine that displays the aromas of orange blossoms, jasmine and spice, while the flavor is dominated by peach and citrus. The finish is unencumbered by oak because the wine is presented “au natural,” with no barrel aging, so the full beauties of this wine come from the grapes and only from the grapes.
This refreshing wine is a great way to venture into one of the world’s most interesting wine varieties. It's the perfect accompaniment to seafood and nonvinegar salads, and it's a knockout when served with Asian foods.
Alamos 2011 Chardonnay ($13) The full flavor of the chardonnay grape - along with the signature mineral background found in all of the Argentinian wines - comes through with the first sip and raises this variety to new heights of interest.
The flavors that emerge are crisp and clean, stressing fresh apple with just a hint of citrus and a suggestion of tropical fruits.
While bashing chardonnay wines has become a favorite pastime of wine writers and self-styled experts, this wine can and will stand up to even the most critical examination.
It has become a trend to judge the quality of a wine by its selling price. In the case of all of the Alamos wines, this philosophy does not hold up. Regardless of the price, this is a fine wine, and a lot finer than many selling for three and four times the price.