February still spells summer in Buenos Aires, and it pairs up with the pesky drone of dengue transporters that lie low until the scorching sun sets. That’s right, it’s still a mosquito-infested sweat pit in BA – and will be for several more weeks. The following is the answer to the limply signaled ‘S.O.S.’ mayday call you sent out from atop that stolen pool float at a borrowed swimming-pool. Only in this case we all know that S.O.S stands for Save. Our. Summer.
Here are some sip tips sampled next to my own watery haven to keep you cool over the coming month.
Etchart Privado Torrontés 2015
Bodega Etchart, Cafayate | AR$ 38
Beloved by those who peruse the lowest of supermarket shelves, this Torrontés stands strong time and again against far pricier whites from the same region in Salta. Though this white has never seen a French oak barrel, much less aged in one, and is likely machine harvested, it’s textbook Torrontés for two measly bucks; floral and tropical fruit in the nose, dry in the mouth with passion fruit. In fact, this Etchart Privado is so kitsch that trendy Florería Atlántico’s vinoteca now stocks the distinctive brown glass bottle with its pale yellow label. Pampa Roja, a Santa Rosa, La Pampa-based closed door restaurant, also stocks it – and won a prestigious The World of Fine Wine’s Wine List Award.
Available from good and bad supermarkets; Florería Atlántico.
Finca Suarez Chardonnay 2014
Finca Suarez, Altamira – Uco Valley | AR$ 135
This family-run bodega has been making wine in Uco Valley for a century now, and its wares are currently in the hands of fourth-generation Juanfa Suarez. Altamira is a buzzword in Uco wine-making, so bandy it around for the benefit of wine snob buddies, throwing in its altitude (1,100 metres above sea level) and soil (alluvial and chalky) for good oenological measure. Don’t be scared of this Chardonnay as it’s nothing like the buttery California style many drinkers associate with the grape; au contraire, it’s fresh and mineral. A bright white that’s perfect on its own, its acidity is so vibrant it actually works up drool in your mouth, taking you from apéretif to dinner in one sip. A fruity nose starring pear and pineapple with a hint of vanilla pod, this is dry, mineral and extremely refreshing.
Available from Ozono Drinks
The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From The Tree Pinot Gris 2015
Bodega Matías Riccitelli, Luján de Cuyo and Uco Valley | AR$ 200
You should know the backstory to a wine and I assure you that first off, Matías Riccitelli’s wine-making DNA is impeccable (dad Jorge is top dog at Bodega Norton and was named one of the world’s 30 best winemakers by Decanter magazine in 2015). Regardless, this apple is doing perfectly well on his own, thank you very much. Second, it’s also good to know when there’s a handsome fellow with a lovely smile who’s a good bloke and knows exactly how to manipulate grapes. Big tick. Plus: Riccitelli’s wine has starred in a movie: his top line República de Malbec caused a stir with local wine fans in Will Smith’s Focus (2015). But back to this Pinot Gris, which is most at home in France’s Alsace region. Though this bright white is amalgamation of grapes from Luján de Cuyo and Uco Valley, its stone fruit nose with a hint of lime and chamomile returns in the mouth, pure peachy, nectarine goodness. Superb poolside apéretif, matches well with southeast Asian Food.
Available from El Garage de Aldo.
Lagarde Blanc de Noir Rosé Malbec/Pinot Noir 2014
Bodega Lagarde, Luján de Cuyo and Vistaflores | AR$ 182
One of Mendoza’s oldest wineries with an ace restaurant that’s well worth a visit, the vast production at Bodega Lagarde runs the gamut between setting you back a month’s building expenses to the cost of a burger. A family-run affair led by delightful sisters Sofía and Lucila Pescarmona (whose party-throwing skills are responsible for one of my most legendary hangovers), this rosé is a Malbec and Pinot Noir blend, bringing out the best characteristics from both grapes. Raspberry aromas pervade thanks to the Pinot, its intense cherry side comes from the Malbec. A pale ruby hue, this fresh rosé works a treat with sushi and salmon.
Available from wine stores and supermarkets.
Wallpa Pinot Noir 2014
Finca Casanova, Uco Valley | AR$ 180
The owner of this finca, one of several private vineyards found within the Casa de Uco estate, wanted to create a distinctive Pinot Noir. And so Noemi Bilinski did. Only half the grapes were fermented with skins, an unusual process in red wine production, meaning its hues are more akin with a rosé and is lighter than normal. Pure cinnamon in the nose, fresh red fruit such as cherry appears behind the spice. The upside of this red is that you can bring down its temperature to 12ºC, let’s say, treating it like a refreshing rosé, or serve it at 16ºC to kick off an asado; works wonders with sweetbreads.
Available from Puro Bistró.
While the red Trousseau grape is essentially an uva non grata in Argentina with five piffling hectares planted here according to sommelier Andrés Rosberg, if you can track down Marcelo Miras’ Joven Trousseau Nouveau 2015, it’s a welcome change from the red norm. An appellation grape from Jura, France, you could be forgiven for thinking you’re sipping a Pinot Noir: it comes in a wide-base Burgundy bottle and has pale ruby hues with fresh red fruit. Sourced by Bodega Miras in General Fernández Oro, Río Negro, the difference lies in its high, vigorous acidity with a touch of eucalyptus. 150 pesos.
Available from Ozono Drinks.