Crios de Susana Balbo Malbec 2015

W Crios Malbec 2015Malbec from Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina

95% malbec

5% bonarda

14.5% alcohol

Opened 2 Feb 2018

els: 9.0/10

Wine Advocate: 90

James Suckling: 90

Susana Balbo’s winery, established in the stunning, idyllic eastern foothills of the Andes Mountains, within the viticultural region of Uco Valley, is southwest of Mendoza, Argentina. The winery is surrounded by 52 acres of Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot vines; producing 4 brands of wines with distinct and complex personalities that appreciate long, secluded years in their bottles: Crios, Ben Marco, Nostros and Susana Balbo Signature. The Bonarda grapes are sourced from surrounding non-Balbo vineyards.

The vineyards are at an average elevation of about 3700-3800 feet above sea level where the steppe climate provides a large swing in growing season temperatures ranging from daytime highs in the mid 80s to night-time lows approaching 50°F. The climate is arid and vines receive a paltry 1-1.25″ of rain per month. To compensate for the semi-desert conditions and the well-drained alluvial soils of Uco Valley, the vineyards are drip irrigated using the Andes’ snow melted water to provide just the right of amount of essential moisture to produce these flavorful wines.  This vintage’s growing weather was cooler and wetter than normal.

W Balbo Winery

Susan Balbo Winery

The grapes are hand-harvested and spend 25 days in maceration vats.  After maceration the wine spends 9 months in new French oak barrels.

The wine has ruby-red to purple color with a garnet to peach rim. A bouquet of fresh cherries and blackberries. On the palate the wine is very well-balanced and medium bodied.  Very fresh and cooling.

An outstanding wine at a very good price. Serve with lamb or beef steak. Get adventurous and try with a grilled tuna steak. Drink now, but should last until 2022-2023.  Decant and aerate for one hour before drinking.

$11.99 wine.com

Tilia Bonarda 2016

W Tilia 2016Bonarda from Mendoza, Argentina

100% bonarda (aka: charbono, corbeau de savoie, or douce noire)

12.5% alcohol

Opened 27 Jan 2018

els: 8.7/10

Wine Advocate: 88

Bodegas Esmeralda, founded by Don Juan Fernandez is named in honor of his only daughter: Esmeralda Fernandez. The winery is located in the city of Junin, approximately 300 miles west of Buenos Aires and almost 800 miles east of Mendoza, producing wines both for the local market and for export. The winery’s Tilia labeled wines, named after the Latin name for the Linden tree, are all produced for the export market.

Tilia’s Bonarda vineyard, El Mirador, is located 50 miles to the southeast of Mendoza, at elevations ranging from 1,950 – 2,150’ above sea level. The vineyard is in a true desert climate, receiving less than 1″ of rain per month and is carefully irrigated with the Andes’ snow melt waters flowing down through the Tunuyan River.  Because of the desert conditions the sun shines 90% of time throughout the year, generating hot days and cool nights, perfect for the Bonarda grape.

The grape, also known as the Charbono in California, is a very commonly planted variety, second only to Malbec, in the Mendoza area.  In the desert climate the grapes produce a medium bodied wine of dark fruit and berry flavors with high acidity and medium tannins.

This wine has a deep purple hue with a cherry red rim. A nose full of plums and black fruit hits you hard upon opening.  A medium to full-bodied, but soft on the palate, wine, with an earthy, herbal flavor. It has a medium finish with vivacious tannins, well-nigh a Merlot in character.

A good everyday red at a good price.  Serve with mild cheese, pasta or pizza. Drink now but it should be good through 2020. Decant and aerate for one hour before drinking.

$10.99  wine.com

Tercos Bonarda 2015

W Tercos BonardaBonarda from Mendoza, Argentina

100% bonarda

13.9% alcohol by volume

els 9.1/10

James Suckling 93

Ricardo Santos Winery produce two types of wines from their vineyards in the foothills of the Andes near Mendoza, Argentina: the eponymous Ricardo Santos and Tercos.

Tercos was developed by Ricardo Santos’ sons, Pedro and Patricio. The wine’s iconic, humorous and possibly triple entendre wine label of 4-donkeys in 3-piece suits is suggestive of a play on the word stubborn, the literal Spanish to English translation of Tercos, insinuating the difficulty of producing a superb wine from the local dry and poor volcanic soils, and finally, they may be donkeys, but they dress up rather nicely.

The bonarda grape, aka the Italian charbono, is grown on the Finca La Pitonisa, or in English, the Witch Estate, which is in the evening shadows of the inactive Andean stratovolcano Tupungato which towers another 5400-meters over the 1100-meters above sea level vineyards. The volcano contributes to the silica rich, sandy loams of vineyard soils containing various amounts of aluminum, calcium, sodium, magnesium, zinc and iron which augment the flavors and body of this wine. The vines were planted between 1977 and 1990 placing them mostly into the old vine category of lower yield but concentrated grapes.

This is a satisfying wine with a pleasing, dark ruby-red to violet color. The aroma is easy with berries, plums and raisins in the forefront with a hint of cloves and spice. The taste is very smooth all around and the balanced finish lasts well into your next sip.

$12.99 wine.com

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