Ricardo Santos Malbec 2011
The late Ricardo Santos demonstrated a life-long commitment to the Argentine wine tradition, particularly in regard to the country’s great varietal, Malbec. As the former owner of the Norton Winery, Ricardo renounced a career in architecture to pursue his passion for winemaking with the belief that Argentina could produce wines equal to the best in the world. In 1971, he was the first winemaker from Argentina to export Malbec to the U.S. market. Mr. Santos is survived by his wife Estela and his two sons, Patricio and Pedro, who carry on the tradition of excellence in Ricardo Santos winemaking. One son, Patricio, is the winemaker; the other son, Pedro, is the head of marketing.
By far the largest and best-known winemaking province in Argentina, Mendoza is responsible for over 70% of the country’s enological output. Set in the eastern foothills of the Andes Mountains, the climate is dry and continental, presenting relatively few challenges for viticulturists during the growing season. Mendoza, divided into several distinctive sub-regions, including Luján de Cuyo and the Uco Valley, is the source of some of the country’s finest wines.
For many wine lovers, Mendoza is practically synonymous with Malbec. Originally a Bordelaise variety brought to Argentina by the French in the mid-1800s, here it found success and renown that it never knew in its homeland where a finicky climate gives mixed results. Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot and Pinot Noir are all widely planted here as well (and sometimes even blended with each other or Malbec). Mendoza's main white varieties include Chardonnay, Torrontés, Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon.
Celebrated for its bold flavors and supple texture, Malbec has enjoyed runaway success in Argentina since the late 20th century. The grape originated in Bordeaux, France, where it historically contributed color and tannin to blends. A French agronomist, who saw great potential for the variety in Mendoza’s hot, high-altitude landscape, brought Malbec to Argentina in 1868. Somm Secret—If you’re trying to please a crowd, Malbec is generally a safe bet with its combination of dense fruit and soft tannins.