Just when I felt there was not one more Argentine Malbec to get excited about, along comes Trapiche to rock my cask.
It happened at a recent tasting at Joey Bentall with Trapiche’s charming winemaker/promoter Carla Castorina, in Vancouver on a five-city tour of Canada. With little foreknowledge about Trapiche, I read an informative article about the winery, written by BC wine expert John Schreiner, on the train downtown. When I arrived at the restaurant, who was sitting next to me but – you guessed it – John Schreiner.
Castorina explained how Trapiche set itself apart by being the first winery in Argentina to produce varietal wines; “Malbec,” as opposed to “red wine.” They were also the first to export wine in 1970’s after local consumption dropped due to Argentine lifestyle changes. Trapiche owns 1000 hectares, in 10 locations in Mendoza, many at elevations of 800-1000 meters, which represents 50% of their overall production. The other half of their grapes come from 200 individual growers. At this time Trapiche is among the top two producers in Argentina, after Catena and ahead of Trivento. It turns out that Canada is their #2 market after the USA.
Trapiche has a huge portfolio of wines with eight levels of quality. We tried wines from three levels: Broquel, Single Vineyard, and Reserve.
The Broquel 2010 Torrontes is blended with 5% sauvignon blanc to give it some zing. The nose is big and effusive with floral and citrus notes, and in the mouth it’s brisk and elegant with notes of lemon and orange. It has soft acidity, but there’s a thin streak of minerality to liven the palate. Finishes clean and fresh. Super well balanced for Asian or Mexican food, we tasted it with Joey’s Killer Ahi Tuna Tacos with toasted sesame, ginger coleslaw and wasabi aioli and it was perfect. At least $18.99 at private stores.
The Broquel 2008 Malbec is one of the best sellers in the portfolio. It has a gigantic floral perfume, with concentrated spicy black fruit on the palate. Very well integrated and balanced with good complexity and easy tannins. Plus, it has a note of olives that mirrored the Mediterranean olives on Joey’s Italian Flatbread with crushed tomatoes and peppered salami. Yum. $21.99 at Everything Wine.
The Broquel 2009 Cabernet Franc has some beautiful tobacco leaf aromas on the nose, and in the mouth there are notes of red and green peppers among the red fruits. Elegant structure, smooth tannins and a long, lush finish, it was similarly delicious with the flatbread. An attractive wine for a decent price. $18.99 at private stores.
Broquel 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon has a shy nose but a smooth mouth, is elegant and full bodied with notes of black berry and plum and a bit of minerality on the finish. Great with the pizza and olives as well as the ash goat cheese. $18.99 at private stores.
All of the Broquels would make great bottles for a dinner party, or a party of two.
After that we moved to the single vineyard wines grown in 6-9 hectare plots by private growers of which there are over 30,000 in Argentina. These wines are third from the top level of the Trapiche range and reflect the individual terroir and microclimates of the Mendoza region.
Trapiche Malbec 2008 Viña Cristine y Bibiano Coletto, grown by the Coletto sisters, has big black pepper on the nose, massive black and purple fruit, plus earth and flint on the palate, and a long fruity finish. The tannins are supple, the texture rich and it has some acidity on the finish. Very impressive.
Trapiche Malbec 2008 Viña Frederic Villafiore is quite densely structured and rich with layers of caramel and chocolate, sweet black fruit, and a hint of minerality on the finish. A very appealing wine, the mouthfeel is silky and soft, and perfect with cheese.
Trapiche Malbec 2008 Viña Jorge Mirella has more spice and minerality than the others, and although it is well-balanced, there is a note of oak exposed. Chewy and powerful, it wouldn’t fail to impress alongside any red meat, cheese or Italian food.
The Single Vineyard Malbecs run $44.99 at LDB and around $40 in California and each would be an awesome gift wine for someone special.
Trapiche’s biggest seller is the Reserve Malbec 2009, which features black fruit – both cherry and berry – that is juicy and concentrated. Being jammy and and fruit forward, the Reserve is an excellent party wine. $14.99 at LDB
Spending time with Castorina – talking about how the pasta and gelato is better in Buenos Aires than Italy, and about the diverse natural landscape in the winemaking regions – made me wish I could travel to Argentina tomorrow, as Schreiner did in 2008. When I finally make it to Mendoza, I’ll have someone to visit.
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