Be­yond Mal­bec

Hong Kong Tatler - - Life -

Ar­gentina is best known for its bold reds from the mal­bec grape. But its whites, par­tic­u­larly from cooler cli­mates such as Patag­o­nia, are show­ing po­ten­tial. In April, I tasted close to 100 of them; the best whites con­tinue to be in­ter­na­tional va­ri­eties, par­tic­u­larly chardon­nay and semil­lon. My top white from Ar­gentina this year was from Catena Zapata. Its 2012 Chardon­nay Gual­tal­lary Valle de Uco White Bones shows the acid­ity and in­ten­sity of a top grand Ch­ablis, along with all the min­er­al­ity one could hope for in a white of the genre—i rate it 98 points. Chardon­nay is of­ten ex­ces­sively creamy and oaky in Ar­gentina. How­ever, wine­mak­ers like Catena’s Ale­jan­dro Vigil and Zuc­cardi’s Se­bas­tian Zuc­cardi are cut­ting back on mal­o­lac­tic fer­men­ta­tions and us­ing wood sen­si­bly, look­ing for an ex­pres­sion of their vine­yards with a Bur­gun­dian sense of style. They are also plant­ing in higher, cooler al­ti­tudes in lime­stone-rich soils to at­tain fresh­ness and typ­ic­ity. The re­sult­ing wines de­liver in­tense min­eral ex­pres­sions of a world-class chardon­nay that de­serves at­ten­tion.

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