A walk-around tasting like the Argentine event below can only provide a snapshot, of course, but I did have the advantage of tasting some wines in advance, at the Decanter World Wine Awards, as well as some tips from my colleagues. I dipped in and out of several Torrontes that were on display, but they were generally disappointing, in the sense that they were all over the place in terms of style, weight, and flavor—there’s nothing remotely like a consensus here. The best, like the Alta Vista 2009 and Bodega Colome 2009 (both from the northern region of Salta) were intriguing, lovely wines, intensely aromatic
and quite fruity, but others were either dilute (the cheapies) or overpowering (oaked or intensified by lees/skin contact).
Malbecs, though, were pretty glorious, at least those which hadn’t succumbed to ego or aspiration, usually expressed by relentless use of French oak (and to their shame, ultra-heavy bottles). The sensuous, juicy, densely mellow richness of Malbec is wonderfully appealing in wines like Etchart, Tapiz, and Andeluna (all from 2009), Renacer, Zuccardi, Vistalba, and Tamari (all from 2008). So is their availability, I'm happy to say—I can find a lot of decent Malbecs in my local supermarket, and I can afford them, too.
The other reds worth searching out were from Bonarda, an Italian grape usually used for blending in Emilia-Romagna and southern Lombardy: RJ Vinedos 2007 “Joffre e Hijas” and Valle de le Puerta 2009 were ripe and lush. (Tip: there are also some nice Bonarda blends around, either with Syrah or even Sangiovese, often inexpensive, and real bargains—the grapes are listed on the front label, so are easy to spot.)