Another of the world's wine-producing countries, Argentina, is coming to the rescue of this nation's wine-drinking public.
The fires in California, the drought, the heat and the sun blocked by smoke will definitely influence this year's vintage. Currently, it is unknown what the wines will be like when the grapes are made into wine, however, I suspect that there will be some new wine labels in the marketplace. These new labels will be on wines that do not come up to the wineries’ expectations and therefore could not bear their familiar label. Enter second labels.
Almost every winery has “other” labels to cover their costs if a batch of wine is not up to their standards but is still drinkable. Like it or not, winemaking is still a business.
Our Argentinian neighbors produce some really excellent wines but suffer from oenological ethnocentrism, aka wine bigotry. There appears to be some reticence about purchasing wines from Central America and South America, probably because they are usually priced well below our domestic wines. Since many American consumers use price as an indication of quality, these wines have been relegated to the back of the line. Disregarding the prejudice, wines such as those of Argentinian Unanime will prove their quality and enjoyment while still saving you money.
Unanime 2017 Merlot ($25)
Guts, courage, chuppah, nerve – that’s what the Unanamie vintners must have had to put out a merlot when the variety is slipping in popularity in this country. Several years ago, merlot was the darling red wine variety in the states. Unfortunately, many quickly made and quickly released poor versions of the variety that were rejected by the wine-drinking public. I will tell you that what Unanime has produced is a merlot wine that is so good, so true to the variety, that it may single-handedly resurrect the variety.
Unanime 2017 Malbec ($25)
OK, I have my boxing gloves on for anyone who wants to challenge the next statements. Malbec wines are rapidly becoming America's favorite red wine and the malbec wines from Argentina are at the top of the list. Italian immigrants in the late 1800s brought to Argentina their winemaking skills and raised a fledgling Argentina wine industry to world class. Wine usually accompanies food; this malbec, however, can not only go with almost any food but also is among the finest sipping red wines that I have encountered in a long time.
Unanime 2017 Gran Vino Tinto ($25)
Gran Vino Tinto translates from first year Spanish as great red wine. And if that name isn’t a challenge, nothing else is. A blend of 60% cabernet sauvignon, 25% malbec and 15% cabernet franc, this wine really rattled me. I do not like getting excited about a wine, but the Gran Vino Tinto is superb. The wine has spent 20 months in French Oak barrels and is about as mellow a cab blend that I have encountered in a long time. The usual sharp edges of the variety are just not there. What is there is an inviting aroma and flavor and, above all, an unforgettable finish.
Unanime 2018 Chardonnay ($25)
Ho hum, another chardonnay, so what’s new? What’s new is a full-flavored chardonnay that is not only soft and smooth but also affordable and that I believe can even match the famed chardonnay wines of Burgundy. Again, it's wine snobbery that prevents wines such as this one from climbing to the top of the heap. Wines should be judged by their attributes rather than location, price or some ridiculous meaningless numbers. All of the flavors and aromas that have made the chardonnay so popular are there in abundance and presented in an enjoyable manner. Public notice: I hereby tender my resignation from the ABC Club, that’s the Anything But Chardonnay Club for those keeping score at home.
Wine columnist Bennet Bodenstein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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