2011 Susana Balbo Cabernet Sauvignon Signature Mendoza
Expert Rating
ST 92 points
(Read the full review below)
 
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Winemaker Susana Balbo
Member Reviews:

***** Really good!
Interesting wine. A tad sweet, but nevertheless enjoyable. Will buy more.
-- John from Denver, CO

***** Susana Balbo Cab
This is a terrific Argentina cab, despite young age. Very smooth.
-- Richard from Chattanooga, TN

***** Rivals Napa's Best
Great fruit with a lot of earth. Rivals Bordeaux and Napa's finest. A great by at this price.
-- Alejandro from Glenn Springs, CO

***** Susana!
Love her wines. This was a very reasonable price and great drinking. Needs to breathe for over 30 min and Enjoy.
-- Michael from South Windsor, CT

***** Go Susana!
She has broken a model and started with a new! Very classy, juicy, bold and a very smooth finish.
-- Randy from Lancaster, CA

*****Lighter, smooth, drinkable as soon as poured
Lighter in weight than the napa cabs, but smooth and fruity. After 30 minutes, very drinkable. Not a sipper. Could get in trouble drinking so easily!
-- Deborah from Fernandina Beach, FL

92-Point Critical Precision on the High Ground of Agrelo

Among collectors, NYC's Stephen Tanzer is known as one of the two most discerning critics on the planet. But Tanzer, despite all kinds of pressure from suppliers, distributors and retailers, has stubbornly refused to inflate his scores. While other journalists dole out a steady stream of 100-point ratings, Tanzer has published just three 100-point reviews in the last 15 years — all to late-harvest German Rieslings!

So it was with much interest that we poured through Tanzer's latest issue, which included an exhaustive report on the challenges facing the Argentine wine industry. As always, the New Yorker minced no words, telling it just as it is when he wrote the following:

"Argentina continues to flood the U.S. markets with lookalike Mendoza malbecs, much as New Zealand is doing with cookie-cutter sauvignon blancs from Marlborough. … There's also something of a race to the bottom going on, as producers and their importers are under constant pressure to meet certain price points. … But if you choose well, you can drink terrific wine at very affordable prices, and at the level of the top producers there are world-class wines to be found."

The top producers in Mendoza, according to Tanzer and Parker's Wine Advocate? Roberto de la Mota and Anabelle Sielecki's Unus. Catena Zapata. Tikal. Viña Cobos. Casarena. Up and coming Antucura.

But if the critics were to choose one producer turning out truly stunning, "world-class" Cabernet Sauvignon on the high ground of Luján de Cujo, it's not even a horse race. Susana Balbo, the Queen of Agrelo — who first honed her Cabernet craft at the side of Warren Winiarski at Stag's Leap Wine Cellars — is in a class by herself.

In the superb 2011 vintage, one in which daytime highs and nighttime lows differed by 50 degrees in the foothills of the Andes, Balbo brought the toughest wine critic in the world to his knees. Tanzer published a 92-point rave review that's, quite frankly, completely out of character.

If you've never read a Tanzer review, never studied the adjectival precision of a wine journalist whose father, Lester Tanzer, was the longtime managing editor of U.S. News & World Report, here's what you've been missing:

"2011 Susana Balbo Cabernet Sauvignon Mendoza
Good bright, medium ruby. Cassis, licorice and menthol aromas are lifted by minerals and violet. Seamless but youthfully tight on entry, then opens up spectacularly on the back half, showing superb noble tannins, excellent peppery lift and outstanding persistence. Susana Balbo attributes both the wine's fine-grained tannins and its peppery element to fully ripe grapes in 2011. Incidentally, she noted that the white netting used to protect the cabernet vines from hail and birds has the effect of reducing sunlight on the fruit by 10%; the black netting used for malbec cuts ultraviolet light by as much as 40%, extending the growing season by up to 15 days. 92 points."

92 points. That would be quite high for The Wine Advocate for an under-$20 Cabernet Sauvignon. Ditto for Wine Spectator. From Tanzer's International Wine Cellar? This is nothing short of a bombshell!



Tasting Notes

2011 Susana Balbo Cabernet Sauvignon Signature Mendoza
"Good bright, medium ruby. Cassis, licorice and menthol aromas are lifted by minerals and violet. Seamless but youthfully tight on entry, then opens up spectacularly on the back half, showing superb noble tannins, excellent peppery lift and outstanding persistence. Susana Balbo attributes both the wine's fine-grained tannins and its peppery element to fully ripe grapes in 2011. Incidentally, she noted that the white netting used to protect the cabernet vines from hail and birds has the effect of reducing sunlight on the fruit by 10%; the black netting used for malbec cuts ultraviolet light by as much as 40%, extending the growing season by up to 15 days."
92 points -- Stephen Tanzer, International Wine Cellar

 

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