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A great any-occasion red. This Argentine malbec’s round body, generous black-cherry flavour and soft ripe tannins will stand up to the heartiest of fare.
Product Code: AR4011
View all products by Dominio del Plata
After an already long and successful career in winemaking, Susana Balbo described her own winery – Dominio del Plata – as ‘like my third child, a dream come true.’ Susana graduated with a degree in oenology in 1981 – the first woman in Argentina to do so, but this wasn't enough for the gutsy Balbo: she also achieved the degree with honours as the best graduate of her year. Having worked extensively both in Argentina and throughout the winemaking world (Spain, Chile, Italy, Australia, and California among others) since the early eighties, it wasn't until the cusp of the shiny new millennium in 1999 that she finally realised her ambition of making her own wine at Dominio del Plata in the famous Mendoza region.Susana established her winery in Agrelo, assisted by the renowned Argentine viticulturist Pedro Marchevsky who helped plant the vineyards. Susana’s ideas on social responsibility extend to sponsoring the local football club, community dining scheme, and also contributing to the education of their workers’ children. The team at the winery are young and dynamic, enabling Susana to continue with her quest for innovation to satisfy an ever-changing and increasingly discerning world palate. As well as significantly raising the profile of the torrontés grape by using it to make fresh, citrusy white wines, Susana is seen by many as queen of malbec in the country that made the grape truly famous. Her success with this grape ranges from the vibrant, youthful, everyday Faldeos Malbec – a range made for The Wine Society – to the silky, oak-aged Signature (in which she also earns great success with cabernet sauvignon). One of her finest wines - the Susana Balbo Brioso – is an artful blend of cabernet, malbec, merlot, cabernet franc and petit verdot, and is always a triumph with members. Maybe it is her maternal affection for her wines that has made her so skilled at the art of blending, enabling her to achieve some of the most delicate and balanced aromas and flavours with the malbec grape at staggering value for money (a far cry from its early days as the many-named ugly duckling of the French varieties). Achieving this at a time when few thought women capable of even being winemakers makes this accolade all the more admirable.
It may have been making wine since the mid-16th century (and is the fifth-largest wine-producing country), but it is only in the past decade or so that Argentina has shown wine drinkers around the world what it is capable of. Historically, Argentina has had a healthy domestic market, so exports were never the country's top priority. But as consumption at home slowed, more and more wineries have strived to make an impression overseas.Argentina has now established a reputation for top-quality reds, and has attracted its fair share of foreign investment, from the likes of Château Lafite, LVMH (owner of Krug Champagne and Château d'Yquem in Sauternes, among others), and top wine consultant Michel Rolland.The heart of the Argentine wine industry is Mendoza, in the far west of the country, where more than 80% of Argentina's wine is made. Altitude is a great marker of quality, and above 900m the climate is cool enough to produce fine wines. Within Mendoza, sub-regions to look out for include Luján de Cuyo in the Upper Mendoza Valley, and the Uco Valley, to the south-west of the city of Mendoza. One of the strengths of the region is the quantity of old vineyards, planted to a relatively high density. The climate here is semi-desert and vines could not survive on the low levels of rainfall alone. The Huarpe Indians, who were in the area before the arrival of the Spanish, long ago built a sophisticated system of irrigation channels, many of which form the basis for the modern structures. What rain there is has the unhappy habit of falling in February and March and the harvest takes place in late March, so many vineyards are planted on free draining soils to mitigate against the effects. Flood irrigation is used where the land is flat enough and drip irrigation is increasingly used to give large but infrequent doses of water to the vines. Hail is a significant risk too, with 30% of vines damaged every year. There is less regional diversity in Argentina than you might imagine, because the climatic differences are often negated by the effects of altitude. For example, the region of Salta, in the north of the country, has some of the highest vineyards in the world, at around 2,000m, but the region's northerly location means its climate is similar to Mendoza. The altitude here, and in Mendoza, provides the vines with plenty of ultraviolet light which encourages the development of anthocyanins and therefore colour in the red grapes, hence the rich, deep colour of many Argentine malbecs. When these anthocyanins combine with tannins during fermentation the result is the velvety, opulent texture one associates with the best malbecs. It is one of the chief reasons for the difference between the Argentine malbecs and the firmer, drier versions from the grape’s natural home at Cahors in south-west France. Salta province, more than 1,000 kilometres north of Mendoza, also makes very fine malbec and other reds at altitudes over 1,500 metres, but is also the heartland of torrontés production in Argentina. This cross between país and muscat is a source of wonderfully aromatic and fresh white wines. Many vines here are pergola trained, allowing the grapes to hang down beneath the canopy, shaded from the sun to prevent burning.Soils throughout Argentina’s wine regions vary: alluvial soils such as gravel, silts sand and clay are common around Mendoza and in the Rio Negro area in Patagonia, Argentina’s other major wine-producing area.Rio Negro is also a semi-desert area, far from the cooling effects of altitude in the Andes and the sea, which is 500 kilometres to the east. The Rio Negro, meaning ‘black river’, runs east on a glacial bed that lies beneath the arid plateau. The waters of the river irrigate the area via channels initially built by British engineers in 1828. Frost is a major risk here and it is not unusual to see the smudge pots often used in Chablis employed in the vineyards of Rio Negro. Soils are varied but generally alluvial with some limestone cropping up amongst the pebbles A wide range of grape varieties are cultivated in the Rio Negro and, apart from one or two exceptions, the region has yet to earn the reputation for quality that Mendoza and the other mountain vineyards have achieved.
2018 is a superb, typical year for Argentina: dry and cool at times but nonetheless sunny with moderate yields and small berries producing excellent wines. The summer was warm but it cooled off at harvest time producing ripe yet fresh grapes. It was especially good for Malbec and white wines.
"I tried this instead of the Society’s wonderful Exhibition Malbec because that was out of stock and sadly the suggested alternative doesn’t compare.
Could the Society please have an email notification service to alert you when a wine is back in stock or when then next year’s vintage becomes available?"
"sour taste on palate"
There are no press reviews for this product.
"Found this to be very dry. Not the smooth juicy fruit forward malbec I was hoping for"
Mr Adam Stockwell (11-Apr-2019)
"Thoroughly enjoyed this wine. Out of all the bottles of red wine that I bought over the Christmas period, from both the Wine Society and [other merchants], it was the best of the lot!"
Mr Geoffrey Podmore (10-Jan-2019)
"A nice Malbec. Lots of sour dark cherry, properly full bodied. Some hint of complexity. Might be interesting to see if this evolves as suggested window is 2018 to 2022 - drunk bottle in 2018. Will buy again."
Mr Michael Sherwin (21-Aug-2018)
"Textbook violet nose of malbec and black fruit and oak on the mouth. Not an exciting wine. Other malbecs at the £10-12 mark offer better value."
Mr Rafael Goncalves (21-Mar-2017)
"Very good at £8.25 in 2012.
Not tried since."
Mr John Cook (07-Jan-2017)
"We taste a lot of malbecs and for the price this is one of our favourites. A solid malbec with damson flavour."
Mr Jonathan Bohane (08-Sep-2016)
"Very happy with this Malbec -- subtly tangy, full bodied and fruity but not overbearing in fruit. Seems a great purchase for this price!"
Ms Anastasia Tataryn (11-Aug-2016)
"I've not drunk much Malbec, but this is the best so far - rich, smooth and fruity. Better than the WS own label Malbec. I'm ordering more!"
Dr Max Hookway (27-May-2016)
"Personally I was a bit disappointed with this wine, fresh and fruity on day one in an unsubtle but perfectly drinkable way, seemed to have deteriorated markedly by day two. I feel it's a bit expensive for what it offers."
Dr Robert Feltham (17-Aug-2014)
"I've previously tried Susan Balbo's Cabernet Sauvignon available at M&S. It's pretty good, but the WS's Malbec is better. There is a greater depth of flavour here and a better balance of fruit and tannins. The winemaker well deserves her reputation."
Dr David Kiernan (28-Apr-2012)
"This is lovely.....well worth a try. Have added to my wish list and will be buying more in future, delicious."
Mr Jonathan Morley (15-Apr-2012)
"The label says 13.5% whereas the WS notes say 14%. Whatever; to my palate this wine tastes too hot with alcohol which masks the fruit. Get around this by drinking with food however I much prefer Susana's other Malbecs which are outstanding balanced wines. Never a dull moment with this winemaker who is well worth seeking out."
Mr Chris Barclay (01-Oct-2010)
"I'm loathed to submit this review as it may cause TWS to sell out of a wonderful Malbec! It's smooth, blackcurranty and worth a great deal more than the list price. Fabulous value, highly recommended. Must order more imminently."
Mr Thomas Ashby (25-Jun-2010)
"Both my wife and I enjoy wines made from the malbec grape and Susana Balbo’s Faldeos Nevados is amongst our favorites. It is well-bodied and robust and whilst it does not have a very pronounced nose, this is fully offset the way it lingers nicely on the palate. It is particularly good as an accompaniment to well-seasoned dishes and with the cheeses with which we like to finish our evening meal. It goes equally well with the softer cheeses such as Brie de Meaux or Epoisses and with a good Stilton. We find that it is best served at claret-temperatures rather than at the cooler temperatures appropriate to wines from Burgundy.
Mr David E Rigby (02-Dec-2009)
"An excellent easy drinking Malbec, which we enjoyed more than the Society's own Malbec."
Mr James L N Wood (13-Nov-2009)
"An interesting change from Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Lovely deep purple with suggestion of blackberry and restrained tannin. Best decanted and very enjoyable with pasta dishes."
Dr Clive Twentyman (12-Nov-2009)
"A rich, smooth wine that has proved an excellent accompaniment to beef - preferably Argentine. It has never let us down."
Mr Christopher G Stobart (11-Nov-2009)
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