BenMarco Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
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BenMarco is all about viticulture. Having planted more than 3,000 acres of vineyards across Argentina’s diverse terroirs, Edgardo “Edy” Del Popolo, General Manager of Susana Balbo Wines in Mendoza and head winemaker for BenMarco, is Argentina’s most knowledgeable winegrower. He has tasted almost every piece of dirt!
BenMarco wines are made with minimal intervention to allow for the purest interpretation of what’s underground on the extreme sites where the grapes for BenMarco are grown. “I try to avoid adding my influence to BenMarco wines,” Edy says. “What I really like to see is what the vines can do, without any kind of winemaking influence.”
Edy grows three red wines from three distinct, high-elevation sub-zones of Mendoza: a Malbec from Los Chacayes, a Cabernet Sauvignon from Los Árboles, and Expresivo, a red blend from Gualtallary.
Argentina of course is heralded for its Malbecs. But in the last two decades Cabernet Sauvignon has been drawing increased attention from winemakers there, and is now the third most planted variety. It is grown in the Mendoza region in the Andean foothills, especially in Maipú and Luján de Cuyo, at altitudes between 2300 and 3100 feet. Here the climate is continental, with hot summers and cold winters. It is very dry and sometimes quite windy, with runoff from the snow-capped Andes providing irrigation. These Argentinian Cabernets offer dark fruit, spice notes, full body and often a voluptuous style.
Another source within Mendoza is the higher altitude Uco Valley, at 3300 to 5000 feet. Up at this level grapes ripen more slowly, despite the bright sun. But that enables them to develop bright acidity levels, giving the wines a fresh quality to go with intense fruit flavors. Another source of good Cabernet Sauvignon in Argentina is Cafayate, in the Calchaquí Valley. North of Mendoza, these vineyards are even higher, at about 5700 feet! These Cabernets carry notes of spice, herbs and menthol to go with dark fruit. Like those from Uco Valley, they show concentration and great vibrancy.
A few producers to look for are Catena, Viña Cobos, Pulenta and Altocedro. Salud!