Monday, April 18, 2011

Calafate Reserva Pinot Noir, Patagonia, Argentina

Bordering Chile, the province of Neuquen in Argentina is still a relatively unexplored place for westerners.

   Even Argentinians  are newcomers to the region; the capital city of Neuquen (so named, as with the province, for the river Neuquen that runs through it) only had about 5000 citizens in the 1930's. Today that same city boasts over 285,000 people... a petroleum boom is one of the main reasons for the immense development in the region.

   And newer still is the interest in viticulture in this area of Patagonia. Neuquen has a relatively arid climate (depending on the part one speaks of), and with it's elevation also has a fairly short growing season. Something certainly of concern if one wanted to grow Malbec as is done in the neighbouring region of Mendoza, but imminently suited to the growth of Pinot Noir. And this is exactly what the Canadian winemaker Pascal Marchand came here for.

Pascal Marchand
   Pascal Marchand has been "cutting his chops" on the proving grounds of Burgundy since 1983, and now consults with winemakers the world over. His Burgundian style is keenly felt in the Calafate Reserva, and in his owns words "rightfully so". Pascal talks about how the Burgundian techniques, more then any other he has had the chance to truly incorporate, truly allow for expression of terroir.
The approach we have in Burgundy is the best way to reveal the expression of the different terroirs, and therefore in each one of these areas you make wines that express their origins
   With the cooler climate that Neuquen has (in comparison to Mendoza) I can understand Pascal's drive to utilize techniques that suit the land. It would certainly seem that he has found that.

2008 Calafate Reserva Pinot Noir
Neuquen, Patagonia, Argentina
Bodega Universo Austral

14% ABV, $17 CAD   *** VERY GOOD VALUE ***
  • visual:   clean; light to moderate ruby core with cherry-brick rim
  • nose:   clean; moderately intense and developing aromas of red raspberry, light blackberry, old leather, light savory herbs, mild exotic spices, mild cocoa
    palate:   clean; dry, moderate+ vibrant red currant acids, moderate- slightly grippy tannins, moderate alcohol, moderate- to light bodied, moderately intense and developing flavors mimicking the nose... red berry flavors are crisp and lively and hit the palate quickly, leaving the darker more develop flavors to linger. Good balance and very good structure with medium length
  • conclusion:   drinking well above it's pricepoint - this wine will do well now until late 2012 and possibly beyond. The concentration of flavors isn't strong enough for me to want to hold onto it though - and the flavors will not improve with age
  • PAIRINGS:   a rich beouf bourguignon with wild mushrooms will do well - especially with a generous amount of wild mushrooms which will help the mild fungal notes in the wine that want to come out and balance the fruit
Neuquen, Patagonia, Argentina
As always, I welcome your comments and questions.

CINCIN~!!!     SLAINTE~!!!     CHEERS~!!!

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