Argentine Wines Make 2022 Hot List (Part 1)
The vineyards at Balcarce (Photo: Bodega Puerta Del Abra)

The year 2022 was a very productive one for Argentina's winemakers with many launching new wines made using the latest technology and innovation across all viticultural regions. With local and international vinophiles eager to explore the very best varietals from South America, bodegas in Argentina set about introducing the world to new releases of red, white, rosé and sparkling wines. It was also a year when vintners emphasised their underlying commitment to the development of red varieties, other than Malbec. This focus saw the emergence of new labels of Merlot and Syrah strains that, beyond the indisputable quality that they can achieve in Argentine terroirs, have seen a decline in their production due to reduced demand in recent years.

Today, Thursday Food presents the first of a series of articles that will feature wines making the 2022 Hot List, as selected by some of Argentina's best oenologists and agronomists, and the bodegas that make them. Here are four sumptuous reds making the cut that you need to get acquainted with in 2023:

Graffigna Glorious Selection Cabernet Sauvignon is made from vineyards in San Juan's Pedernal Valley by Bodega Graffigna. This wine is a rich specimen with lots of red and black fruit as well as hints of red flowers and paprika in its aroma. Due to its aging in oak, there are outstanding spicy and toasted notes. On the palate, it rewards with firm tannins and a good grip while giving life to a red with structure. At the same time, however, it also has an unctuous mid-palate followed by a long and expressive finish.

Founded in 1870 when their first vines were planted in San Juan, the bodega also recently acquired vineyards in Uco Valley to expand its wine production and was relaunched in 2022. The expression and richness of each grape varies mainly due to the characteristics of the regions and the altitude at which the vineyards are located. Bodega Graffigna's range of wines are made combining the same strains of grapes that thrive on different vineyards located at different heights, giving them qualities derived from the multi-height aspect of these terroirs. These vineyards in San Juan have seen over 145 years of Graffigna winemaking history, producing their finest grapes to embellish Argentina's heritage and passion.

Libertad Syrah is produced in the Paraje Altamira area of Valle de Uco by Bodega Grazie Mille, a project started by Fernando Spigatin and Leandro Rodríguez. This Syrah evokes a minerality that underscores its long aging, giving it an elegant mature personality. It has a blackish red colour, is wild and fruity but friendly on the palate. Aromas of jams, blackberry, black fruits and spices coexist equally with toasted notes and sweet spices. The wine has a full palate and good structure with a beautiful smoothness, good fluidity along with a nice texture.

The benefits of the Altamira region, its agro-climatic conditions, teamed with the quality of its 100-year-old vineyard has led Bodega Grazie Mille to achieve a great expression of the terroir in its maximum objective. The winery was born in La Consulta, Valle de Uco, as the dream of two friends endowed with learning and a shared passion of wine and friendship. The vineyard, which recently turned 100 years old, is located at the foot of the Andes Mountains and produces a variety of wines that are being positioned by the founders to be a hallmark of the Uco Valley.

Insólito Merlot is produced by Bodega Puerta del Abra from vineyards located in a new area for viticulture: Balcarce Buenos Aires, which was recognised by the INV (Argentina's National Institute of Viticulture) as a geographical indication (GI). The wine is highly perfumed and very deep in aroma, dominated by healthily ripe red fruits and a spicy background. This is accompanied by and overlaps with the scent of oak barrels that deliver some sweet spices. On the palate, it is a wine with good muscle, firm and elegant tannins, without edges and a flow more through the centre than voluminous. It closes your palette leaving a fresh sensation, a decadent marge of flavours between herbal and balsamic, complete with a very long finish.

This wine comes from an area where the presence of limestone combined with a particular microclimate, where the effect of the mountains and the influence of the sea converge, makes it a very unique Merlot. Produced from the El Vallecito farms, located in Argentina's Tandilia System which is one of the oldest formations in the world spanning more than 2 billion years, the vineyards are located 115 to 137 metres above sea level. Expressing an elegant character, this Merlot has established itself as one of the great novelties of the year. It is pioneering in that it is from a completely new (dare we say the newest) wine region that is bound to garner lots of attention.

Palo Santo Cabernet Franc is produced in the Uco Valley by Urqo Winery, owned and operated by the Urquia family, Argentine exporters and marketers of oils and grains, whose journey in the wine industry began some 15 years ago. This wine expresses aromas that are pure, direct and subtle, with notes of red and black fruit. It also has herbal touches, reminiscent of thyme and a very fresh, balsamic note. On the palate it is longer than it is broad, with tannins that offer a seductively subtle texture with a distinctly friendly freshness.

Since acquiring its very first farm, Familia Urquia went on to build a bodega with state-of-the-art technology and a storage capacity of 3 million litres in 2016. Following several vintages making bulk wines and producing for third parties, 2022 was a turning point which saw the family launch their first two wines, with their own brand, and officially present the Urqo winery to the market.

In upcoming weeks, Thursday Food will introduce more labels from the 2022 Hot List, so stay tuned to these pages!

Palo Santo Cabernet Franc (Photo: Urqo Winery)
Palo Santo Cabernet Franc (left) and Malbec (Photo: Urqo Winery)
Wine tasting at Bodega Puerta Del Abra (Photo: Bodega Puerta Del Abra)
Bodega Graffigna Pedernal Valley (Photo: Bodega Graffigna)
Freshly harvested white grapes at El Vallecito (Photo: Bodega Puerta Del Abra)
Grapes on the vine at Paraje Altamira (Photo: Bodega Grazie Mille)
The flow of red wines from the steel tanks at Bodega Puerta Del Abra (Photo: Bodega Puerta Del Abra)
Urqo vineyards at Valle De Uco (Photo: Urqo Winery)
Libertad Syrah (Photo: Bodega Grazie Mille)
Graffigna Glorious Selection Cabernet Sauvignon 2020 (Photo: Bodega Graffigna)
Insólito Merlot 2018 (Photo: Bodega Puerta Del Abra)

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