Move over, malbec, it's time for torrontés wines from Argentina
April 17 was the fifth anniversary of World Malbec Day. In 50 countries, more than 70 events were hosted to honour Argentina's favourite grape. It also signifies the date when malbec was awarded the accolade as Argentina's star grape variety.
Malbec is famed for its opulent black fruit, ripe tannins, friendly, approachable style and great value for money. These days, malbec is Argentina's top export variety, with an annual output of about 1.5 million cases, and the US is the largest consumer.
Malbec's co-star is the white grape torrontés, which now accounts for about 20 per cent of all wine sold in Argentina. Internationally, torrontés is still relatively unknown, although demand is rapidly increasing in the United States.
Torrontés is found only in Argentina and is grown in all the country's wine regions. It is a cross between muscat of Alexandria and criolla chica (mission grape). The resulting wine resembles muscat and gewürztraminer on the nose. At its best, it is fragrant and redolent of tropical fruits. Fresh, zippy acidity makes it a refreshing wine to enjoy as an aperitif.
The Villafane family have been in the wine business for more than 400 years. In 1611, Don Manuel Villafane, a Spanish soldier, was sent to Argentina to fight English pirates. He eventually settled down and became a farmer. Vines were cultivated to provide wine for settlers and the church. The winery is located in the Maipú area of Mendoza, Argentina's largest winemaking region. Mendoza, in the foothills of the Andes, is the home to some of the world's highest vineyards, with elevations of 600 metres to 1,100 metres. The semi-arid climate means that no pesticides are used and grapes are farmed organically.
Don Manuel Villafane Torrontés Estate Mendoza 2013
Perfumed, floral, grape and tropical fruit salad notes. On the palate is vibrant with fresh fruit and crisp acidity. A cheerful crowd-pleaser. Will pair well with spicy Thai and Indian dishes. HK$118
Don Manuel Villafane Reserva Malbec 2011
Spicy black fruit, with some black pepper notes. Medium-bodied, with ripe underlying fruit and soft tannins. Enjoy on its own. Also goes well with barbecued goose and pork. HK$155
Don Manuel Villafane Gran Reserva Mendoza 2011
A blend of malbec, cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc.
Intense ripe black fruit, some savoury and spicy peppery notes. Full bodied, with ripe, integrated tannins, balanced acidity and fairly long finish. Still youthful with bags of primary black fruit. Enjoy now, and will keep for another five years. HK$258
Wines are available from Valdivia, email@example.com, tel: 2555 7431