Finca Sophenia ’06 Synthesis Malbec and Altosur Torrontes
When S. American wines are mentioned, Chile springs to most peoples minds but Argentina has been making a serious effort to compete with the Chileans here in the UK. While premium Argentine wines have made quite a splash in the US, they’re just beginning to make a dent in consumer consciousness here in the UK.
I went to a tasting at the Bluebird Wineshop of the Finca Sophenia winery, based in the Tupungato Valley which is situated at high altitude in the north of Argentina. The vineyard is situated at 1200 metres and is one of the highest grape growing regions in the world. It does, however, have an excellent microclimate with 374 days of sunshine a year which allows the grapes to thrive despite the cold.
Estefani Peretti, the representative from the estate was on hand for the tasting. Argentina has two varietals that really only seem to thrive their country, torrontes, a white varietal from Spain and of course, malbec, the red grape from France. Argentina has managed to take these two varietals and make them distinctly their own.
When I lived in Argentina, I usually steered clear of torrontes because in my view it was a sickly sweet smelling, floral tasting wine with either no acidity to balance it out or too much. The Finca Sophenia Altosur Torrontes ’08 exhibited none of those characteristics. It had a lovely, floral but not sweet nose with a touch of honeysuckle to round it out. I found it pleasingly dry with good acidity but not too much that it drowned out the white flowers and citrus character of the flavours. The finish was nice and long and had a lilting flowery/citrus echo. The citrus finish was what really surprised me as most torrontes have that flowery aftertaste but this one lacked that which made it a stand out. I could imagine this being a great sushi wine or even having it with spicy Thai food.
The Synthesis Malbec ’07 is one of Finca Sophenia’s showcase wines. What they are
attempting to do is show what great complexity and elegance can be produced from the malbec grape. A rich, deep purple in colour, with an inviting violety, fruity nose, very fresh with vanilla notes. Malbec can sometimes be too earthy or leathery but the Synthesis had a nice balance of earthy minerality and fruit without being a fruit bomb. Full bodied with soft round tannins making for a velvety, smooth wine. Loads of prunes and ripe plums along with mocha and tobacco, it was nice and ripe with a long finish.
While it’s true that these wines are fruity, the winemakers have managed to tame that fruitiness and make exceptionally well balanced wines that can either be drunk on their own or as a partner with food. I’ve always been a fan of malbec and this wine just confirms my convictions.
Altosur Torrontes – £8 rrp
The Synthesis Malbec – £18 rrp