2015 Vistalba, Corte A, $65
Winery info: Founded by Carlos Pulenta in the Vistalba sub-region of Luján de Cuyo, Mendoza, Argentina, this winery sits at 1,200 meters above sea level in the Andes Mountains. While the current winery was built between 2001 and 2004, some of their vineyards are over 70 years old. Their goal is “producing top-quality wines of world renown, with a marked identity and personality.” Winemaker Juan Pablo Murgia visited us recently to pour some of his wines for us, and this one really impressed us!
Grapes: 70% Malbec, 16% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 14% Bonarda, from vines planted in 1948 (Malbec and Bonarda) and 1999 (Cabernet). Blended from the best selection of each varietal, the wine is aged 18 months in French oak barrels, 60% new.
Vineyard: Sourced from the best blocks of their Finca Vistalba vineyard in the Vistalba sub-appellation of Luján de Cuyo. The soil is alluvial with a top layer of silty, clay loam over a bed of smooth stones.
Flavor Profile: It is smooth and full-bodied, with bold structure, silky texture and elegant flavors of red and black fruit and dried plums. The finish is long and lingering.
Availability: The distributor has a small amount of this vintage left.
Drinkability: Now or over the next six to eight years.
Food Pairing: Grilled meat, pasta dishes, or hearty stews.
2017 Edi Simčič, Malvazija, $35
Winery info: The Simčič family has been producing wine for several generations in Goriška Brda, Slovenia, a location that up until the end of World War II was part of Italy. (Today their winery is just 500 yards from the northern Italian border.) Due to political upheavals over the years, the winery faced a number of setbacks, but today Simčič is considered one of the top producers in the country. As they note on their label, “When you taste our wines, you are tasting a bit of freedom.” Edi’s son Aleks is now the chief winemaker.
Grapes: 100% Malvazija (Malvasia), a Mediterranean white grape, aged 12 months in French oak.
Vineyards: Their vineyards in Goriška Brda, between the southern Alps and the Adriatic Sea and influenced by both.
Flavor Profile: Malvasia grown in the Goriška Brda region tends to be more structured and robust than when grown nearer to the sea. Add to that the Simčič’s (somewhat controversial) use of oak aging and the result is an intense, richly textured wine with complex notes of menthol, dried apricots, and juniper. It is deep in color and evokes a sense of the salt and minerals in their soil. A great reflection of both the varietal character of the grape and the style of Edi Simčič.
Availability: As a direct import wine, Small Vineyards brought in only the amount pre-ordered in the spring, so it is very limited.
Drinkability: Anytime over the next two to three years, although it could age up to 2025.
Food Pairing: Richly flavored appetizers prepared with Mediterranean spices such as rosemary and bay leaves. Or with seafood. “Even the fish clap their hands!” Aleks says.