Pertaringa Undercover Shiraz ’05 & Mendel Malbec ’06

One of the advantages of working in a wine shop has got to be customer tastings. Not only do we get to try the wines but it’s also a great opportunity to talk with our customers,  to get an understanding of what consumers are looking for in their weekly wine shop. I also love the look on people’s faces when they try a wine for the first time and discover something new. I definitely get a sense of satisfaction when they enjoy one of my recommendations. What if they like the wine and I don’t? Well,  I’ve learned to be quite diplomatic in my critiques and of course, if they don’t like it, then I let rip and steer them to wines I think they’d like. We had two wines on tasting the other day, one I loved and the other? Meh. What surprised me the most was the wine I liked was an Australian shiraz and the wine I wasn’t crazy about was an Argentine malbec. Usually my tastes run the exact opposite so it’s always eye-opening to revisit a style or grape I thought I knew and discover something totally different. I do like Australian wines but when I actually buy wine, Australia is not my go-to place. That is until the Pertaringa ’05 Undercover Shiraz came around. Pertaringa is a small boutique vineyard in the McLaren Vale in South Australia and most of their shiraz is used as a blending grape for other wineries in the McLaren Vale, hence the name “Undercover” since it’s an unbilled player in those blends. The Undercover is 100% shiraz, they’re not pullling any punches here. The first thing that hit me was ripe, red raspberries! Loads of  them mixed up with a heady creamy scent. An image of raspberry ice cream jumped into my head. Very fruity nose, I was loving the aromas coming up from the bottom of the glass. On the palate more of those ripe, raspberries but not jammy which I detest in New World...

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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...

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