"Shows a touch of mushroom up front. Firm currant and toast notes and a solid winy finish which has a green hint but still very good. Contains merlot and Malbec as well. Drink now through 2003." -Wine Spectator
Susana Balbo Winery
Susana became the first female enologist in Argentina after graduating with honors from Don Bosco University in Mendoza in 1981. Due to the male-dominated industry in Mendoza, her first job took her north to Salta where she changed Argentine wine history with her first vintage of premium Torrontés. Susana continually seeks innovative ways to enhance her winemaking, from experimenting with barrel volumes (160L through 6,500L) to testing wild vs cultured yeasts. For premium wine production, Susana chooses concrete eggs for fermenting vessels. The egg's porous concrete breathes like oak yet allows the wine to develop as if it were made in stainless steel. The resulting wine has a pure expression of fruit with a richer, more complex mouthfeel. In 2011 and 2012, Susana's son Jose and daughter Ana joined the winery to help build SBW to where it is today. Jose helps Susana as the winery's head of R&D alongside his role as Exportation Manager. Ana is SBW's Marketing Manager as well as General Manager of the winery restaurant Osadía de Crear. Susana continuously seeks uncharted territory in the wine world to see what limits can be tested. Most recently, Susana crafted Argentina's first Barrel Fermented Torrontes. It's a wine that is not only the first of its kind, but harvested from a previously unproven terroir for Torrontés in the Uco Valley. The Wine Advocate's Luis Gutierrez calls it one of the "10 Argentine Wines to Drink Before You Die".
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Now fifth in the world for wine production, Argentina is catching up in the quality wine sector. A long time wine producer, Argentina used to make wine in order to drink it, not export it. And so the wines produced were quaffable and rustic and made for the local's everyday dinner. Yet it's hard not to get caught up in the wine market of the world and some winemakers decided it was time for Argentina to show their stuff. Better winemaking technology was brought in, new winemaking techniques were learned and good viticulture practices flourished. The result? World-class wines with unique style and variety.
Unlike its Chilean neighbor, Argentina's vineyards are spread out around the country. The best known region is Mendoza, almost parallel to Santiago to the west. Mendoza contains the sub-regions of Maipu (pronounced MY-pu) and San Rafael. Grape-wise, the most important white is Chardonnay, making wine similar to California's style on the variety. Another fun white grape to try is Torrontes. Almost only grown in Argentina, Torrontes makes wines that are crisp, aromatic and easy-drinking. Some of the best versions of this wine come from the northern region of Salta, with very high altitude vineyards. As for the reds, Cabernet Sauvignon is the main grape for many wines leaving the country, but Malbec, the grape Argentinians like to call their own, makes very distinctive wines that are structured, dense and velvety. Many more varieties happily grow in the country, but for export, and consistent quality, these are the primary grapes.
Young, organically farmed Carmenère at Chile's De Martino estate vineyard
Chile & Argentina are the regions producing the most wine coming out of the continent. The wines from this area are good value with a distinctive taste. They create new world wines with old world character.
Most wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Crisp
Light to medium bodied wines that are high in acid and light to medium fruit. Typically no oak.
Fruity & Smooth
Light to medium bodied wines with lots of juicy fruit, typically medium acid and medium oak.
Rich & Creamy
Full bodied wines that have typically undergone malo-lactic fermentation and/or spent time in oak.