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Tilia Malbec 2010
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Made at Bodegas Esmeralda, Tilia has been handcrafted to demonstrate true varietal character. The brand is named after the Tilia (Linden) tree commonly found throughout Argentina’s wine country. Vineyard workers often make tea from the flowers of this tree and enjoy time sitting in the shade after a hard day’s work. These wines are a tribute to those workers and to the Argentinean way of living life to the fullest, enjoying every moment and relaxing in the natural environment the land provides. These inviting selections are approachable, affordable and filled with layers of flavor. Tilia wines offer a unique combination of fruit sourced from the traditional Eastern region and the dynamic Southern region of Mendoza. The Eastern region is one of the oldest and most recognized viticultural regions in Mendoza. It enjoys warm, sunny days and cool, desert nights. The fruit from this area offers ripe flavors and excellent mid-palate depth and concentration. The Southern region is considered to be one of the most premier growing areas in Mendoza. At 4,000 feet above sea level, the higher elevation offers much lower temperatures. This allows for more aromatic intensity and higher levels of natural acid creating freshness and balance in the wines. Grapes from this region have very intense aromas and bring a fresh characteristic to the wines. In addition to these general regions, Tilia’s Torrontes grapes are sourced from Cafayate, Salta in the Northwestern region. Alejandro Viggiani is the winemaker and viticulturalist in charge of Tilia. Viggiani graduated with honors from the Universidad Nacional de Cuyo in Mendoza with a degree in agricultural engineering. Continuing his education, he attended the viticulture and winemaking master’s program jointly held by the Universidad Nacional de Cuyo and the prestigious Eccie National Superieure Agronomique de Montpellier, where he specialized in vine physiology. Tilia wines are aged in French and American oak, as well as stainless steel, and are allowed some time in bottle prior to release. They are produced in an approachable style using sustainably farmed grapes.
With vineyards tretching along the eastern side of the Andes Mountains from Patagonia in the south to Salta in the north, Argentina is one of the world’s largest and most dynamic wine producing countries—and most important in South America.
Since the late 20th century vineyard investments, improved winery technology and a commitment to innovation have all contributed to the country’s burgeoning image as a producer of great wines at all price points. The climate here is diverse but generally continental and agreeable, with hot, dry summers and cold snowy winters—a positive, as snow melt from the Andes Mountains is used heavily to irrigate vineyards. Grapes very rarely have any difficulty achieving full ripeness.
Argentina’s famous Mendoza region, responsible for more than 70% of Argentina’s wine production, is further divided into several sub-regions, with Luján de Cuyo and the Uco Valley most noteworthy. Red wines dominate here, especially Malbec, the country’s star variety, while Chardonnay is the most successful white.
The province of San Juan is best known for blends of Bonarda and Syrah. Torrontés is a specialty of the La Rioja and Salta regions, the latter of which is also responsible for excellent Malbecs grown at very high elevation.
Known for its big, bold flavors and supple texture, Malbec is most famous for its runaway success in Argentina. However, the variety actually originated in Bordeaux, where it historically contributed color and tannin to blends. After being nearly wiped out by a devastating frost in 1956, it was never significantly replanted, although it continued to flourish under the name Côt in nearby Cahors. A French agronomist who saw great potential for the variety in Mendoza’s hot, high-altitude landscape, brought Malbec to Argentina in 1868. But it did not gain its current reputation as the country's national grape until a surge in popularity in the late 20th century.
In the Glass
Malbec typically expresses deep flavors of blackberry, plum and licorice, appropriately backed by aromas of freshly turned earth and dense, chewy tannins. In warmer, New World regions, such as Mendoza, Malbec will be intensely ripe, and full of fruit and spice. From its homeland in Cahors, its rusticity shines; dusty notes and a beguiling bouquet of violets balance rich, black fruit.
Malbec’s rustic character begs for flavorful dishes, like spicy grilled sausages or the classic cassoulet of France’s Southwest. South American iterations are best enjoyed as they would be in Argentina: with a thick, juicy steak.
If you’re trying to please a crowd, Malbec is generally a safe bet. With its combination of bold flavors and soft tannins, it will appeal to basically anyone who enjoys red wine. Malbec also wins bonus points for affordability, as even the most inexpensive examples are often quite good.