A Bargain Flight Through Argentina

Argentina’s hot right now.  Well, ok… technically it’s winter there right now – the forecast high for Buenos Aires today is a measly 54.  But their wines are hot and have gained massive popularity in recent years owing to their tremendous value.  Many wine drinkers immediately associate Argentina with Malbec, often their only exposure to Argentinian wines, although among white wine drinkers Torrontes is rapidly gaining popularity as well.

2013-07-04 18.11.35A years-long Argentinean mainstay in Lexington has been the wines of Parrot Mountain, and last week while picking up our CSA box, I was able to taste through several of their latest releases.  Unfortunately for you purists, Parrot Mountain is not some quaint mountaintop Argentinean bodega.   It is a private label brand created by Liquor Barn in partnership with Kysela Pere et Filis, the wine’s Virgina importer.  (A wine contact of mine in Argentina verified this to be correct, to the best of his knowledge.  On the plus side, Liquor Barn has kept the price of these wines steady at around $10 per bottle for many years.  

The first time I tried Parrot Mountain several years ago, I found the wines to be quite enjoyable.  Unfortunately on the latest go-around, the results were much more mixed, so either quality has slipped or my palate has changed.

2012 Sauvignon Blanc – Crisp, grassy and lots of citrus – exactly what you’d expect from a South American Sauv Blanc.  Not unique, but certainly pleasant.  I’d be curious to do a side-by-side tasting with it and the Cono Sur Sauvignon Blanc – a value-priced label from Chile.  

2012 Rose Malbec – This is a crisp, tart, dry Rose.  But the tartness overwhelmed the fruit and I thought it tasted like watered-down cranberry juice.  To be fair, I’m not a fan of rose in general, so my bias probably worked against me here.

2012 Chardonnay – This was the downer of the night.  Usually South American Chardonnays are really pleasant, but this one had virtually no nose, and it tasted of weak citrus.  It was barely even distinguishable as a Chardonnay.

2010 Cabernet Sauvignon – This wine caught me off guard.  Incredibly aromatic, and a great balance of flavors.  Dark fruit and some cocoa, but light on the tongue.  For $10, this is a bargain.  My favorite of the flight.

2012 Malbec – Based on the Cab, I had really expected to enjoy this. But it seemed unbalanced, and a little tart.  Certainly drinkable, but for $11 I think there are better options.

These wines are sold exclusively through Liquor Barn (and presumably LB Express) and they make two or three other wines as well, including a Torrontes.  If you’ve been curious to try out Argentina’s style of winemaking, these wines make for an affordable experiment.


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