Crios de Susana Balbo Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
After 22 years of winemaking, Susana Balbo has a strong sense of what she wants from her wines. From every harvest, she creates the grandest possible wines under her Susana Balbo label. To achieve this, she makes a rigorous selection of the finest barrels prior to making her final blends, dividing them into the parents (reserve level wines) and offspring or "crios."
Wines under her Crios label display ripe fruit flavors, excellent balance and concentration, and are meant to be enjoyed in their vibrant youth. These wines are produced under Dominio del Plata's code of sustainable agriculture.
Like Susana's own crios (a boy and a girl), they are extremely lovable and fun to be around. The label features a series of three connected and overlapping hands, an image inspired by a Mayan artifact. The artifact illustrates the interconnectedness of every generation, and the irony that we will be both the parent and the offspring at different times in our lives.
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!