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Trapiche Single Vinyard Malbec

Trapiche Winery, Mendoza, Argentina

 

This post has been two years in the making. It began just prior to Hurricane Sandy, but was not finished due to storm related problems. I always felt badly about not following up.  James Suckling’s recent event at City Winery, “Great Wines of the Andes,” in conjunction with Zachy’s has made it possible to complete.

 

Trapiche, currently owned by Grupo Penaflor, has been widely imported to the US for many years. With many quality levels in its portfolio, it always had, at least to me, a reputation for large production, reliable quality and fair pricing.  They are the largest producer in Argentina and bottle a wide array of wines, including Malbec, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Bonarda, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc,  and Torrontes as varietals. Various labels, at differing price points, include Broquel, Iscay, Astica, Finca las Palmas, and of course Trapiche labeled wines.

 

Wildman had been their representation in the US for many years, but The Wine Group LLC has replaced Wildman (2012), and with this change also came a new strategy for the U.S. marketplace.  To promote this initiative, Kristen Siefkin, of Lane PR, contacted me with an invitation to meet Daniel  Pi, the chief winemaker from Trapiche Winery since 2002. He was going to be in New York for a few days in mid-October, 2012 along with Carla Castorina, also winemaker and PR person from Trapiche.

 

We sampled four wines over lunch, at La Fonda del Sol, but mostly talked about the winery’s direction.  Their goal is to increase quality in the higher end labels, but maintain, and hopefully increase the overall quality, even in the “bulk” brands, like Falling Star. To that end, a series of grower wines had been established by Daniel, where for each year, three Malbec  grower’s vinyards whose fruit is judged to be superior, is selected  then vinified and bottled with their own label. By doing this, a friendly competition has been established to produce the best fruit by varietal, and then have the wine made with the grower’s name on the label, with bragging rights for the year.

 

We had two of these Malbecs, and they were both lush and concentrated.  Also sampled was a Cabernet, as well as a Chardonnay. The Cab was clearly oaked, but not overdone, and in fine balance.  Chardonnay was very middle of the road as far as intensity and style, and quite enjoyable. We shared the wines with an assortment of tapas, giving an opportunity to play with the pairings.  Since none of the wines were overassertive, as far as tannins were concerned, and balanced in intensity and fruit, everything worked, almost regardless of the combinations on the plate and the glass, with anchovies the only problem, but was good with the Chardonnay.

 

Fast forward to November 18, 2014: Among the many wonderful wines from both Chile and Argentina being poured at City Winery were Trapiche’s  three grower wine winners from 2010. Clearly, the program which started in 2005 and impressed me two years ago, is still going strong. Current labeling  calls it the "Terroir Series."  I made them my first stop after seeing the wines listed in the program, as well as a final one to recheck my notes.  

 

These winners are all from the Valle de Uco, in southwest Mendoza, one of the finest locations. Altitude, soil, vineyard management and production meld together, producing excellent wine.  For more information about this project and see some videos of the growers, use this link:  www.trapichemalbec.com.ar/terroirseries/eng/media.html

 

As for the 2010 Trapiche Malbec Terroir Series winners, each grower’s  production was vinified identically after the fruit selection was made. Fruit levels in all are high, with intensity, balance and elegance.  They each should retail for about $55-60, and are well worth it. I found the biggest differences to be in the oak apparent in them, listed here from lightest to most present. All were wonderful wines.

 

Finca Lastra:  Lush and balanced. Harmonious blackberry fruit, full bodied with fine, gentle tannin structure. A juicy wine, the oak barrels barely come through. The 15% ABV was not evident on the palate.

 

Finca Orrelana de Escobar: Similar to Finca Lastra, but with more oak on the midpalate, making it a bit more powerful. Very appealing, with intense fruit and minerality. It should hold up better over time because of the wood.

 

Finca Ambrosia: Like the Finca Orrelana, but pumped up another notch, both in fruit complexity and tannins. Some cherry along with the blackberry, and more barrel in the mid and end palate. With 15.5% ABV, this wine was still balanced, well integrated  and without heat.  This was my favorite of the three.

               

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