It was the lure of the exotic that brought Amanda Barnes – a journalist and writer from Hampshire, England – to South America. Surprisingly it wasn’t until she arrived in Argentina that she discovered a passion for wine and food, and was particularly seduced by the Mendoza region. As she discovered Chile and other parts of the continent, she carved a niche in writing about food, wine and travel in Latin America. Now she is embarking on a journey of truly epic proportions, attempting to visit 42 wine-producing countries during their vintages in the space of two years. Every step will be chronicled and communicated extensively, with the idea of subscribers joining the odyssey through a number of different media. On this episode of The Vincast Amanda talks about how she became such an authority of the wines of South America, and how she conceived of this ambitious concept to travel Around the World in 80 Harvests.
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Dan Sims and Ben Edwards both had backgrounds as sommeliers and were omnipresent and popular men about Melbourne before they established their business as educators and consultants to the hospitality industry under their Wine Guide name. Having many years experience with assessing, communicating about and selling wine, they made the bold decision to ‘put their money where their mouth is’ by making their own booze. They decided to make a couple of wines from the malbec variety in its (now) home of Mendoza in Argentina. The fruit came from the Uco Valley in the southern parts of the region, and here are my notes on the first releases.
Malbec Rosé 2012
Nice subtle nose, a touch of savoury spice, lots of raspberry. Juicy full on the palate, lovely and fresh, generous ripe red fruits, nice balance.
Juicy rich dark sweet fruits but nice and dry with just a hint of savoury. Just enough warmth and earthiness.
Catena Chardonnay 2010
Very bright vibrant citrus and melons. Clean fresh and bright, tiny amount of oak influence, hints of texture and weight, friendly yet fresh and dry.
Catena Alta Chardonnay 2009
Creamier lees derived notes, richer and fuller, excellent balance and freshness. Texture and elegance, good structure and acids, peach orange notes, builds on the palate.
Catena Malbec 2009
Nice and soft, plump and fresh, good balance and tannins. Length and a bit of texture, acids quite good, a little savoury.
Catena Alta Malbec 2008
Earthy savoury, much more depth and development of fruit. Great balance and texture, not jammy or over-ripe.
Nicolas Catena Zapata 2007
Vibrant intense nose, good but great? Good complexity but lacks subtlety and depth, has some velvety characters, new oak gets in the way a bit.
Catena Zapata tasting
Gala 3 2009
Mango, honey, rich ripe fruity tropical paw paw and guava. Textured and rich, acids but quite hollow, not very well balanced.
De Sangre 2009
Very floral lavender aromatics. Good texture and subtlety of fruit although dried in nature, some complexity on the back, acids quite pronounced.
Finca los Nobles Cabernet Bouchet (Franc) 2006
Rich ripe blackcurrant, very juicy and bomby, no green or earth notes, soft full and weighty, hot and jammy.
Seleccion de Granos Nobles Gewurztraminer 2009
Quiet aromatically, small white florals, glazed lime. Textural sweetness well balanced, length and density, acids add vibrancy.
Malbec D.O.C. 2008
Nice dark fruit spice and earthy lavender. Intensity without weight, achieves good balance of all components.
Luigi Bosca tasting
B Crux Sauvignon Blanc 2010
Floral grassy kiwi and apple, grapefruit and passionfruit. Lovely and light freshness, crisp fruit acid, straightforward and clean, a touch of length and texture.
B Crux Blend 2007
Bright and fresh for its age, full intense yet not heavy, concentrated red fruits, has a Spanish flair to it, great balance and texture.
Alpha Crux 2003
Fruit retention, black olives and capers, benefiting from age. Lovely softness and length, structure and acids, savoury.
Alpha Crux Malbec 2008
Interesting earthy menthol notes, good but not great, soft full round and broad, nothing really special about it.
O. Fournier Mendoza wines
Deliciously soft and elegant, persistence and length, earthy aromatics. Rolls across the palate, mouth-filling, great savoury character.
Cabernet Sauvignon 2004
Gorgeous aged characters, not harsh at all, invitingly savoury, so much complexity, balanced fruit with maturity.
Gran Assemblaje 2003
Still showing fruit on the nose with serious complexity and maturity, insane balance, structure and elegance, silky soft yet firm, wonderful integration and restraint.
Carmello Patti wines
Extremely dense in colour. Stewed plums, dried fig, very extractive and heavy, cooked character, tomato sauce, meaty texture, smoky sausage.
Bordeaux nose but much riper and more reductive, slightly brighter floral cassis, better integration and balance. Still very tight and tannic, heavy and very ballsy.
Finca Altamira Malbec 2009 (Uco Valley)
SLightly brighter fresher fruit, intensity of fruit but more elegant softer tannins, still very extractive though.
Finca Mirador malbec 2009
Darker more brooding subtle fruit, broader more developed and soft sweet tannins. Almost has a distilled character, balsamic reduction.
Pinot Grigio 2011
Lovely light crisp simple style with reasonable texture.
Very floral musky talcum nose, light clean and fresh, not too fruit sweet.
Wonderful vibrancy and balance, nice currant fruit, good acid bites, light and soft yet structured.
Juicy tight red fruit, bright and light, great acids to add vibrancy, good concentration.
Reserva Malbec 2010
Better concentration and tannin texture, density and length.
Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2010
Nice and dark density, good soft tannins, full mouth, nice balance and softness.
Nice floral dark fruits, fruit not obvious but serious, subtle lavender notes. Vibrant bright and tight, not heavy but concentrated, balance and weight.
Rounder dustier and earthier, more savoury and less fruit. Different balance and length, fruit seems to have quietened, structure and lines, acids carry nicely.
Elegant and well-contained, amazing structural balance, quite savoury and harmonious blend.
Finca Remeta Malbec 2010 (old-vine Uco Valley)
Spectacular balance, chocolate and black cherry, exquisitely balanced and long. Sensational.
Reserva Torrontes 2010
Bright floral apricots, textural weighty body, quite warm, plenty of apricot and quince fruit, bold without being over-ripe.
Reserva Malbec 2009
Dusty dark fruit, quite hot and full with soft tannins, oak has been paired back, acidity and length.
Afincado Malbec 2007
Darker more subtle savoury nose, depth balance and soft velvety tannins, oak adds savoury dimension, extremely luscious yet concentrated.
Cheval des Andes 2007
Classic bordeaux aroma, gorgeous earthy leather, huge power and intensity, grainy tannins, marriage of terroir and vine, exceptional length.
Terrazas de los Andes tasting