We’re just days away from the festive season and hopefully your Nochebuena invite is already lined up. But what to bring, booze-wise, to the table? For the past 350 days, I’ve sampled hundreds of wines as well as spirits to ensure you’re the perfect in-the-know guest. Bookmark this white-leaning guide (cut out and keep, if you’re old school), memorize the blurb – then tag me in your Insta Stories (@sorrelita) as you whip out these anecdotal tasting notes. Let’s crack Christmas – and New Year’s Eve – with some cult wines and modern classics.
Malpensado Extra Brut
Coty Galtieri is throwing her soul into a mono product: sparkling wine. It makes sense. She did, after all, specialize in bubbles when taking a masters in Cava heartland Penedés in Cataluña. With just two espumosos to her name – a champenoise and a charmat – Coty is totally focused. This charmat blanc de blancs is made from Chardonnay and Viognier, the latter giving it that floral note, but there’s enough mousse and creaminess to pair with vitel tonné. And, it’s a legit bargain!AR $290 at Mr. Wines
Monkey 47 Schwarzwald Dry Gin
Finally, the world’s best gin has made it from the Black Forest to Buenos Aires. And yes, 47 ingredients do go into it – but did you know they are hand-sourced from all over the world, not just Germany? The juniper’s from Tuscany and Croatia, the lavender from France and Sicilian lemons, Syrian roses and Norwegian spruce, among others. Multi-layered London Dry style, spiced, floral, citrus, so smooth and elegant, it’s almost edible. As for the monkey, well, Max was a resident of Berlin zoo, adopted by the gin’s original creator Montgomery Collins back in the 1940s. Your finest tonic and a slice of orange with mine, please, to kickstart proceedings.
AR $1,800 at Winery
Blanco de la Casa 2016, Matías Riccitelli Wines
He knows how to press wine drinkers’ buttons and Matías Riccitelli’s latest, two-line release is no exception. First, the label itself is bloody brilliant, a single eye-catching image by pop photographer Marcos López. (They shot it together at La Boca’s Il Piccolo Vapore). No winery logo, no blurb, just a pimpy-looking guy in a red shirt. As for the ‘house white’ – a Sauvignon Blanc/Semillón/Chardonnay blend sourced from Gualtallary, La Consulta and Las Carreras in Uco Valley – it speaks just as loudly as the shirt. Fermented and aged six months in concrete eggs, it’s already racked up 95 points from James Suckling. Seductive summer white.
AR $590 at Ozono Drinks
Livverá Malvasía 2016, Escala Humana Wines
Orange is the new black when it comes to wine. Sound crazy? Actually, it’s not a trendy method but simply means it’s a white made like a red, with skin contact. After racking up experience at Bodega Noemia in Río Negro and Sophenia in Uco Valley, talented young oenologist Germán Masera is now applying that knowledge to his own project. Sourced from a tiny vineyard in Tupungato, this is Argentina’s first Malvasía, a white usually found in Spain and Greece. Its beauty lies in its deceptive complexity, fragrant unusual nose and plenty of texture in the mouth. Fast becoming a cult, just 1,200 bottles were produced and its 10.5 percent alcohol means that suegra embarrassment levels will be little to none.
AR $390 at Ozono Drinks
Otra Piel Chardonnay 2015, Gen de Alma
Orange is the new black part two. Winemaker Gerardo Michelini played me a video showing exactly how they remove this fermented grape juice from an underground amphora: in a bucket, attached to a rope, by hand. Why so much manual labour? Because the Gualtallary vineyard is electricity free and this is a terroir love story as he and oenologist wife Andrea Mufatto aim for true expression with zero intervention. Thanks to whole cluster fermentation, this Chardo’s volume and tannins mean you can easily sink a rib-eye with this white beauty.
AR $520 at Ozono Drinks
Pintom Rosado Subversivo 2017
Where pink is the new orange and a biodynamic vineyard the norm. War correspondent-turned-vintner Gabriel Dvoskin teamed up with Italian wine-making stallion Giuseppe Franceschini of to create a rebellious and complex rosé from Pinot Noir, Gabriel’s first
passion. Sourced from El Cepillo, Uco Valley’s coolest zone, its floral, herbaceous, perfume, balsamic and bramble nose gives way to a high acidity, textured mouth that’s fresh, herbaceous, almost antiseptic yet bursting with rosehip, cherry, tart red apples and a little effervescence. THE rosé that wine drinkers in the know are desperate to get their hands on.
AR $500 at Ozono Drinks
The polo season is over but summer is just getting started and a case of Pimm’s on standby is essential. The posh Brit’s standard tipple for close to 200 years, obviously they guzzle it down during their three-day summer. Following a soft launch a year ago, S/S 2018 is the first official Pimm’s O’Clock. Given the price, there’s no need to lap up every last drop like a thirsty pony who just finished up an Open chukka so savour this gin-based aperétif. Sliced cucumber, strawberry, orange and mint are key to a No. 1 Cup, topped with 7Up, though some like it with ginger ale. The cooling taste of Blighty for an idyllic verano porteño.
AR $175 at classy supermarkets
L’esprit de Chacayes 2016, Bodega Piedra Negra
Looking out across the vines in bud-burst under the Andes’ watchful gaze in Argentina’s newest Geographical Indication (IG), French oenologist Thibault Lepoutre told me: “This wine expresses what we think about this area.” Granted IG status by Argentina’s INV in November, L’esprit de Chacayes is 70% Malbec 30% Côt, the latter Malbec from Cahors in France. Complex and spiced with floral and graphite notes, fresh concentrated black fruit team up with mineral and also dulce de leche as well as plenty of acidity and tension.
AR $490 at Winery
Estancia Uspallata Malbec 2015
Let’s talk extremes. Grapes grown at 2,000 metres above sea level alongside a vibrant canyon, a place where the Andean wind mercilessly rips up vines without warning. This could be Purmamarca in Jujuy, but it’s actually Uspallata, on the road to Chile, in Mendoza. The highest vineyard in the province, this Malbec has made me fall in love with Malbec all over again: velvet, black fruit, spiced after 22 months in French oak. Already a legend notching up 95 points and this is just the first vintage…
AR $1,000, at their bodega