Cabernet Sauvignon from Argentina, recently harvested.
After a series of tastings of Cabernet Sauvignon of different styles at different locations in Argentina, we set out to find ten points that allowed us to summarize what a consumer can find today while holding a glass of Argentine Cabernet in his/her hand.
New trends, new wine regions and, especially, the markedly different ways of working this strain on local soil, made these points appear easily after conversations with winemakers and tasting more than 20 wines.
These are, in our opinion, the ten points you should know to understand the Argentine Cabernet Sauvignon.
10 Pointers About Argentinian Cabs
- Only one Cabernet Sauvignon of continental climate: strangely, viticultural areas in Argentina are opposed in terms of geographic and climate characteristics when compared to the great cabernet sauvignon regions in the rest of the world. In Argentina, the influence of the sea is limited. Even though the distance from the Pacific Ocean to Mendoza is only 450 km, there is a front barrier of 5000 meters represented by the Andes. It directly affects the characteristics of the variety. Altitude, dry mild climate, grape salubrity, great temperature variation and diverse soils are some of the qualities that make Argentinian Cabernet complex. The vegetal components are ripe. There isn’t green bell pepper but roasted red bell pepper with notes to red spices. There are notes to black fruits and actives tannins which are enjoyable and polished.
- Bell pepper: if something stands out in our country, especially in the Cabernet Sauvignon from Northern Argentina, it’s the distinctive note to bell pepper, given by the compound named 3-Isobutyl-2-methoxypyrazine. This note provides character and defines the vegetal and spicy profile of Cabernet Sauvignon. This peculiar aromatic compound is better developed in fresh regions with remarkable temperature variations and less affected by the sun. In warmer areas with vines exposed to sun, these pyrazines combust and lose the battle to the fruit.
- Structure and tannins: beyond the differences given by regions and some aromatic characteristics, Argentinian cabernet sauvignon stands out for its great volume, weight in the mouth, viscosity and, of course, a remarkable structure defined by their natural content of tannins. These active and potent tannins in young wines make Cabernet Sauvignon one of the optimal grape varieties to create beverages with aging potential. The tannins of this grape variety are the milestone that achieves longevity and help to get complexity along the time, which turns these greasy tannins into creamy and unctuous bodies.
- Aging potential: from Bordeaux Grand Crus to the powerful wines of Napa Valley, in California, Cabernet Sauvignon has proved to be one of the varieties that allows aging and good evolution thanks to the structure, tannins and aromatic complexity.
- Versatility: it is one of the most flexible varieties that can be used for many purposes. There are young cabernet sauvignons to be consumed in a short time which are elaborated without aging in barrels and little concentration. And, of course, the traditional ones which are complex, potent and of great body. Also, it is one of the favorites for enologist when making experimental blends. There are rosé and sweet wines. In recent times, a small winery released a ‘blanc de noir’ (white wine made of red grapes), 100% cabernet sauvignon.
- Blends: Cabernet around the world isn’t only enjoyed as a varietal. It is basic for most of the greatest coupages, and Argentina could not be an exception. Even more, we can assure that this grape of yore complements empowers the well-known characteristics of Malbec.
- Good value: as it usually happens, not only have Argentinian wines achieved great quality but also are the best example for ‘a good value for money’ when compared to the greatest references in the world.
- Agrelo, Mendoza: it is a neighbourhood within Lujan de Cuyo that has represented a paradise for Cabernet Sauvignon from Mendoza. In general, it is a small region, colder than the typical average temperature of the area. Clay and sandy soils hold water that helps to preserve the natural acidity of the grapes and helps to achieve full ripeness of the polyphenols. Additionally, there are pleasant aromatic notes such spicy and fruity.
- Salta: specifically, in Cafayate (but generally in all the Calchaquies valleys in the Northwestern region) Cabernet Sauvignon offered magnificent wines with international acknowledgement. Although these wines used to be considered “bombs” due to the structure, power and tenacity, today they are ‘tamed’ in the winery so that they are easier to drink.
- Uco Valley: This region in Mendoza is the mecca to the great wines of modern profile which are more based on terroir than on the intervention inside the winery. It is excellent for distinctive and original cabernet sauvignons.
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VinoApp team tasted a selection of Cabernets and we highlighted the following wines:
- De Angeles Gran Cabernet Sauvignon 2014: the color is garnet red with tile hues that denote some evolution. Impacting on the nose. Very complex and changing. There are notes of black tea, asparagus, celery, paprika, chili flakes, pink pepper, coconut, kitchen spices, bitter cocoa, dry earth, leather, mushrooms, fermented dough, fruit tart and coffee. The attack is sweet. The acidity is balanced and refreshing. Structured, creamy. Pleasant ripe tannins. Long finish with hints to the notes and complexity found on the nose. Delicious.
Gran Cabernet De Angeles
- Facon Selection Cabernet Sauvignon 2017: The typical ruby red for this variety. Powerful nose that grows in complexity when opening. There are notes to red spices like paprika and chili flakes mixed with vanilla, cigar cases, black olives, jalapeños, tomato leaves, fermented dough and fresh black fruit. Juicy and vibrant, of great nerve. Delicate, although well-structured with present tannins that are not astringent. Exquisite today. It will improve in the bottle as time passes by.
Facon Cabernet Sauvignon
- Atamisque Cabernet Sauvignon 2016: Very interesting wine from Uco Valley. Austere but defined by its spicy and vegetal profile. Notes to pepper, cinnamon, red bell pepper, grass, clove, ripe black fruit and vanilla. Structured, with active silky tannins. The acidity generates some tension and it provides with acidity. Integrated wood and persistent finish.
Atamisque Cabernet Sauvignon
- Anaia Gran Cabernet Sauvignon 2017: Ruby red with medium-plus intensity. Expressive. Good aromatic diversity with clear dominance of vegetal notes. There are roasted bell peppers, eucalyptus, mint, blueberries, black olives, musk, leather, black pepper, nutmeg. Sweet attack well balanced with the vibrant acidity. Medium body with present and well-combined tannins. Wood is subtle and well-integrated. Medium finish, vegetal with a slight bitterness.
Anaia Gran Cabernet Sauvignon
- Luigi Bosca de Sangre 2017 (85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Syrah, 7% Merlot). Technically, a cabernet sauvignon according to the Argentinean law (varietals must contain at least 85% of the named grape). Ruby red with garnish hues. Attractive and complex with a clear vegetal profile, it expresses notes to roasted red bell peppers and asparagus. As time passes by, notes of blueberries, cherries, leather, tobacco, gravel, dry earth, black pepper, olives, eucalyptus, seasoning, camphor and violets appears. Pleasant in the mouth, owner of a toning acidity and active ripe tannins. Structured with alcohol in the right balance. In the end, there are notes to wood, leather and tobacco combined with the vegetal records. Medium persistency.
Luigi Bosca de Sangre
Complete your read with an interview with Andres Vignoni, from Viña Cobos: