A couple of weeks ago colleagues Greg and Bastien took to the skies and headed for Argentina. I should point out that they did board a plane, otherwise their arms would have been very tired indeed… what, with all that flapping about!
Anyhow, I digress. The purpose of the trip was to visit a supplier of ours, Bodega Escorihuela Gascón in Mendoza, Argentina.
Mr Miguel Escorihuela Gascón, a passionate and determined visionary, created one of the most prestigious wine companies in the Republic of Argentina since 1884: Establecimientos Vitivinícolas Escorihuela.
From the very beginning, his main objective was to achieve wines of the highest quality.
Therefore, special attention was paid to the selection and care of grape varieties, the elaboration under traditional methods and the constant incorporation of technology, with a team of qualified Argentine professionals and the counselling of renowned foreign winemakers and technicians, which makes it possible to maintain a high level of international quality.
Today, after 130 years in making top quality wines, Escorihuela Gascón is a market leader in the creation of premium red and white wines and is one of the ten most important exporting wineries in Argentina.
In the UK, Argentinian malbec has been a roaring success for over a decade – no surprise given our love affair with a nice, juicy steak.
Well, did you know that the region of Mendoza makes some wonderful drops of white too?
Bodega Escorihuela Gascón have been creating glorious white wines for many years and I gave three of them a whirl this week.
Starting with the super Escorihuela Gascón Gran Reserva Chardonnay (£21.99 at Fine Wines Direct UK). This elegant chardonnay has creamy, toasty notes from time in oak that results in defined tropical fruit aromas on the nose.
Through the mid palate the ripe pear and pineapple fruit carries some citrus acidity and an elegant mineral character. An oaked chardonnay that is balanced and juicy with a crisp, refreshing finish.
The Escorihuela Gascon Viognier (£21.99 at Fine Wines Direct UK) is a lovely interpretation of this complex grape variety.
A touch of smoke sits alongside honeyed stone fruits such as apricots and white peach in the mouth, with a touch of clementine acidity keeping things bright and bouncy on the finish.
A wine that would hold its own with some of the fine examples of viognier found in the Rhone Valley, France.
Finally the Bodega Escorihuela Gascón Pequenas Producciones Sauvignon Blanc (£31.99 at Fine Wines Direct UK) is a limited production wine – as the name suggests – made from limited parcels of 100% sauvignon blanc.
Initially there’s a touch of ripe gooseberry fruit on the nose which transfers into this brisk, authentic attack on the palate.
The wine gets its complexity from eight months in French oak barrels, but this doesn’t mask the freshness or crisp character, but almost frames the fruit, giving it a little more weight and heft. Alcohol – like the previous wines – is a at a very sensible level, 12.5% and keeps things light and eminently enjoyable.
It will be interesting to see how the wine develops in a couple of years. I wonder if it emulates the classic white wines of Bordeaux?
So there we have it folks, proof that the wine makers in Argentina are as adept at making top class white wines as they are in making toe-curlingly good reds.