The Tasting Panel magazine

April 2010

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Page 65 of 116

Humberto Canale The oldest continuously-producing estate in Río Negro was founded in 1909. This historic winery, still family-owned, produces 110,000 cases, of which 35,000 are exported to the U.S. market. Guillermo Barzi Canale is the fourth genera- tion to run the family winery. He also operates a large fruit company with processing plants as far afi eld as Russia. The wines are clean, fresh and friendly and, like most of the other Patagonia wines, a very good value. 2009 Estate Viognier ($15) Silky and smooth; juicy, and aromatic with lovely brightness and purity. 89 points 2009 Estate Sauvignon Blanc ($15) Ripe citrus and silky texture; brisk melon and racy acidity; fresh and balanced. 88 2008 Estate Malbec ($15) Dark and velvety with ripe plum and blackberry fruit; rich, with suppleness, balance and intensity. 90 Humberto Canale 2008 Cabernet Franc, Gran Reserva ($15) Smooth and balanced with dense, velvety texture and lush plum and spice; ripe and rich, mellow and balanced; long and lovely. 90 Vini Imports Bodega Noemía de Patagonia This is a unique and important estate, Patagonia’s only true boutique winery. Owned by the elegant and charming Contessa Noemi Marone Cinzano, who also owns Castello di Argiano in Montalcino (her brother is proprietor of Col d’Orcia). Noemi’s partner is winemaker Hans Vinding-Diers, who previously made the wine at Canale and currently is in charge at Argiano as well. (He also makes Pinot Noir for Chacra, a small winery owned by Piero Incisa of Sassicaia that Owner Contessa Noemi Marone Cinzano of Noemía. is adjacent to the Noemía property; it is arguably the best Pinot made in Argentina.) The 720-acre Noemía operation, which produces a bit more than 3,000 cases of deep, concen- trated Malbec-based wine, is fully biodynamic. The wines, fi rst produced in the 2003 vintage, are remarkable. In addition to the current releases (listed below), I had the opportunity to taste the 2008 and 2009 Noemía out of barrel; it is clear that Noemía has the potential to be one of Argentina’s greatest wines. 2007 “A Lisa” ($23) Lovely robe, luscious, seamless with no corners or edges; long and opulent. 85% Malbec, 15% Merlot. 92 2008 “J. Alberto” ($35) Supple and silky; subtle oak, pure fl avors of ripe plum and berries; impeccable with great structure and depth. 95% Malbec, 5% Merlot. 94 2006 Malbec “Noemía” ($110) Dense and ripe with plum, cinnamon and hints of clove; complex with great aging potential. 100% Malbec. 96 Vias Imports Noemía’s ”A Lisa” is an opulent Malbec-Merlot blend. The cellars at Fin del Mundo. NEUQUÉN The vineyards southwest of Neuquén are the brainchild of Julio Viola, a real estate developer who imagined that this windy, desolate area of scrub vegetation and mesas could bloom into vineyards. He convinced several others to take the plunge with him and created a growing region in the San Patricio del Chañar Valley, now boasting 4,000 vineyard acres where nothing much had existed since the landscape was roamed by dinosaurs millions of years ago. Bodega del Fin del Mundo Viola dramatically named his property the “The Winery at the End of the World,” and it does give that impres- sion, sitting on a windy plain, surrounded by its vineyards that seem huddled for protection. The winery, founded in 1999, is constantly expand- ing as its wines gain in popularity. Viola’s entire family is involved in the winery, which probably has something to do with Julio’s persuasive, larger- than-life personality. He Julio Jr., Ana and their father, Julio Viola. also used his persistence and powers of persuasion to land Michel Rolland as winemaking consultant. The fi rst commercial vintage was 2003. Viola has planted a huge complement of varieties in his vineyards, but a pioneer is allowed to experiment. So far just about everything seems to be working. The Neuquén region offers ideal growing conditions: very little rain, deep porous soils, cool nights, warm days and a long ripening period. NV Extra Brut ($22) Salmon pink color; bright and juicy with racy, crisp fruit and tangy acidity. 89 2008 Chardonnay Reserva ($18) Gold color; fresh and softly juicy with clean, lively fruit and balanced fl avors. 88 2008 Pinot Noir Reserva ($18) Juicy and bright with fresh fruit, silky texture and nice balance. 88 2007 Malbec “Fin” ($29) A single-vineyard expression; velvety with ripe plum and chocolate; sweet oak, long fi nish and lovely balance. 90 2005 Special Blend Reserve ($34) Smooth and luscious with deep ripe fruit and lush texture; great depth and style.40% Malbec, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot. 92 Gaucho Imports april 2010 / the tasting panel / 65 PHOTO COURTESY OF BODEGA NOEMIA PHOTO: ANTHONY DIAS BLUE PHOTO: ANTHONY DIAS BLUE PHOTO: COURTESY OF BODEGA FIN DEL MUNDO.

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