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Argillae Sinuoso 2008
Intriguing blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. It is dark ruby red in color with purple highlights. It is broad and intense on the nose, with red berry aromas typical of Merlot (marasca cherry and red currant) and some varietal characters typical of Cabernet. Salty, warm, well-structured, with a soft and persistent finish. It is a dry, structured red wine that can be drunk throughout the meal, from hearty cold cut appetizers or medium-aged cheeses to game or venison dishes.
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
I was very impressed with the wines I tasted from Argillae this year.
And it is from these particular soils that this winery takes its name, ARGILLAE. Argilla is the Italian word for clay. Azienda Agricola Argillae is set on the hills between Allerona and Ficulle, northwest of Orvieto, and boasts some 640 hectares of land, of which 170 are planted with vine (the rest is devoted to olive groves, corn and woods). The vineyards are located on the slopes of the hills, at approx 1000 to 1380 feet of altitude and enjoy good exposure to the east and west and ideal microclimate. This territory is characterized by rock formations called "calanchi", a type of badland formed by erosion in clayey bedrock, particularly along the river valleys, some 2 millions years ago. As a proof that this area was once under water, the land is rich in fossilized seashells and turtle shells. With the expertise of renowned oenologist Lorenzo Landi, Argillae winery offers three interpretations of Umbria, its land and its history: Orvieto, Grechetto and a red blend called Sinuoso.
Named “Oenotria” by the ancient Greeks for its abundance of grapevines, Italy has always had a culture that is virtually inextricable from wine. Wine grapes are grown just about everywhere throughout the country—a long and narrow boot-shaped peninsula extending into the Mediterranean and Adriatic Seas. The defining geographical feature of the country is the Apennine Mountain range, extending from Liguria in the north to Calabria in the south. The island of Sicily nearly grazes the toe of Italy’s boot, while Sardinia lies to the country’s west. Climate varies significantly throughout the country, with temperature being somewhat more dependent on elevation than latitude, though it is safe to generalize that the south is warmer. Much of the highest quality viticulture takes place on gently rolling, picturesque hillsides.
Italy boasts more indigenous varieties than any other country—between 500 and 800, depending on whom you ask—and most wine production relies upon these native grapes. In some regions, international varieties have worked their way in, but their use is declining in popularity, especially as younger growers begun to take interest in rediscovering forgotten local specialties. Sangiovese is the most widely planted variety in the country, reaching its greatest potential in parts of Tuscany. Nebbiolo is the prized grape of Piedmont in the northwest, producing singular, complex and age-worthy wines. Other important varieties include Montepulciano, Trebbiano, Barbera, Nero d’Avola and of course, Pinot Grigio.
One of the world’s most classic and popular styles of red wine, Bordeaux-inspired blends have spread from their homeland in France to nearly every corner of the New World, especially in California, Washington and Australia. Typically based on either Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot and supported by Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot, these are sometimes referred to in the US as “Meritage” blends. In Bordeaux itself, Cabernet Sauvignon dominates in wines from the Left Bank of the Gironde River, while the Right Bank focuses on Merlot. Often, blends from outside the region are classified as being inspired by one or the other.
In the Glass
Cabernet-based, Left-Bank-styled wines are typically more tannic and structured, while Merlot-based wines modeled after the Right Bank are softer and suppler. Cabernet Franc can add herbal notes, while Malbec and Petit Verdot contribute color and structure. Wines from Bordeaux lean towards a highly structured and earthy style whereas New World areas (as in the ones named above) tend to produce bold and fruit-forward blends. Either way, Bordeaux red blends generally have aromas and flavors of black currant, cedar, plum, graphite, and violet, with more red fruit flavors when Merlot makes up a high proportion of the blend.
Since Bordeaux red blends are often quite structured and tannic, they pair best with hearty, flavorful and fatty meat dishes. Any type of steak makes for a classic pairing. Equally welcome with these wines would be beef brisket, pot roast, braised lamb or smoked duck.
While the region of Bordeaux is limited to a select few approved grape varieties in specified percentages, the New World is free to experiment. Bordeaux blends in California may include equal amounts of Cabernet Franc and Malbec, for example. Occassionally a winemaker might add a small percentage of a non-Bordeaux variety, such as Syrah or Petite Sirah for a desired result.