Saturday, March 24, 2012

Back to Mendoza

Seeing as how I keep blathering on about the fact that we'll soon be off for a bit of walkabout through wine country Down Under, I thought I might grab a bottle from one of the wineries we visited on our last big trip - when we took in some Mendocan wineries in Argentina.

I wrote a bit about our visit to the Vistalba vineyards and winery in October 2010 and I have to admit that Vistalba and its sister winery, Tomero, have become favourites of mine when it comes to Argentine wine - even though I don't get many chances to actually sip back on their wines.

I mentioned in my previous post about Vistalba that the Tomero brand is used for the varietal wines produced by the winery and the name comes from the "tomero" or the person who regulates the distribution of water flow through the local irrigation system that was created over 100 years ago in Mendoza. That system consists of numerous water channels that are used to deliver mountain run-off that was captured from near-by Andes. Certain estates have been allocated, by law, a quota of water hours and the tomero is responsible for opening and closing thetoma de agua or gates and channels through which the waters flow. It was all quite fascinating to see the interlocking ditches and gates. The system is even used for the delivery of water throughout the city of Mendoza itself.

1087. 2006 Tomero Reserva Petit Verdot (Mendoza - Argentina)

As for the wine, I don't tend to see straight varietal bottles of Petit Verdot all that often - and it's not a varietal that quickly comes to mind when thoughts wanders back to Argentina. P.V. is used primarily for blending with other Bordeaux varietals - even in Argentina - but this was a wonderful example of the deep colour and the depth and intensity of flavours that make it an alluring component of those Bordeaux and Meritage wines.

Tonight's bottle was actually a gift from Lucila, our agent at Exotic Patagonia, who helped put our trip together. Her husband, Ricardo, is a local rep for Vistalba and Tomero in Vancouver and we were thrilled to be given the bottle because fewer than 500 cases of the wine were made and there's no way we'd have been able to buy it in our market.

For a 2006, there was still plenty of heft and fruit in the glass at first, but the wine really opened up after an hour or so as the tannins softened and the complexity of the wine shone through. No doubt, all that flavour was helped along by the fact that the vines would have had to work so hard to establish and replenish themselves. One of the highlights of the winery tour was the cutaway wall in the underground tasting room. One side of the room was simply an out and out look at the geographic conditions found in the vineyard.

You continually hear that grapevines tend to do best when they have to struggle to survive. Well, this sure wasn't any soil I'd want to be working a vegetable garden in. The vines in this vineyard must be some kind of tough.

I'm sure going to look forward to the next opportunity to try a Tomero or Vistalba wine though. Hopefully, there'll be some finds in Oz that are just as exciting.

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