2011 Tikal Natural Red Wine Mendoza
Expert Ratings
RP 91 points
ST 90+ points
(Read the full reviews below)
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Tikal Vineyards Parker's "Utterly Seductive" 91pt Tikal Natural

As you've no doubt seen in your local wine shops, prices for top-flight Argentine reds are on the rise. The reason appears to be twofold.

First, over the last decade, Mendoza's Malbecs and Cabernet Sauvignons have become the New World's best answer to Napa Valley. When Napa was depressed between 2009 and 2011, the Argentines eschewed price increases, content to gobble up market share. But now that Napa is on fire, many Argentine estates are taking the opportunity to raise prices.

Second, is the sorry state of the Argentine economy. As unemployment rates skyrocket and inflation surpasses 2.5% per MONTH, winegrowers are caught in the crosshairs. Those without sufficient capital reserves are either opting to increase prices -- hoping that importers will understand their predicament -- or backing off quality, reducing production cost.

There's a third approach, though few have the resources or the resolve to adopt it. Then again, the Catenas have read this script before.

We've told the story several times of the young economist, Nicolas Catena, and the call he received from his winegrowing father in the late 1960s. Nicolas, an economics doctoral student at Berkeley, listened as his father described the crumbling local economy, how the family had little hope of selling their harvest for enough to cover the farming costs.

Nicolas' father was agitated, but the economist was cold as ice. "Leave the fruit on the vine. Walk away. Shut it down." While Senor Catena knew his son was correct, he harvested anyway, accepting the consequences.

When Nicolas returned home the following year, he hadn't forgotten the harvest call with his father. He arrived with a plan, one that would ultimately revolutionize grape growing in Mendoza. "If we are to survive, we must export," Nicolas proclaimed. "We need to over-deliver, not just compete with the French and the Italians. We need to be better -- for less."

Since the early 1990s the Catenas have been doing just that. And while the family's $100/bottle, 98pt Catena Zapata reds have set the bar by which the rest of Mendoza is measured, no one has forgotten the course that was taken following that father-son harvest call.

Even as the Argentine economy crumbles, and inflation runs rampant, the Catenas have continued to push the envelope in the vines and the cellar as they hold prices steady. Margins are razor-thin, making bottles like this extraordinary 2011 Tikal Natural one of the most voluptuous under-$18 bargains of the year.

Robert Parker's Wine Advocate called this one "utterly seductive." Steve Tanzer's International Wine Cellar described it as a "serious wine for the price." The 2011 Natural is a blend of 60% Malbec and 40% broad-shouldered Syrah. Deep purple/black to the rim, infused with blackberry and mountain blueberries, laced with sweet creme-de cassis. The attack is big, broad and Napa-like, boasting gobs of crushed black fruit preserves, buttressed by the fine acid backbone, so typical of the high ground of Vista Flores. Drink now-2018.

Tasting Notes

2011 Tikal Natural Red Wine Mendoza
"The 2011 Tikal Natural is a blend of 60% Malbec and 40% Syrah both organically farmed in Vista Flores from 10-year-old vines. It is aged for ten months in 80% French and 20% American oak of which 10% is new. It has a vibrant, almost life-affirming bouquet of lifted dark cherries, blueberry, soy and minerals that is beautifully defined. The palate is sensual and caressing on the entry, setting you up for its silky tannins, pure macerated dark cherries and blueberry fruit struck through by a keen thread of acidity. Utterly seductive! Drink now-2017."
91 points -- Robert Parker's The Wine Advocate

"(a 60/40 blend; just 10% new oak): Bright, full, deep ruby. Aromas of blackberry, licorice, violet, minerals and toasted marshmallow show an exotic liqueur-like quality. A penetrating, youthfully tight bomb of dark fruits, with black cherry, blackberry, cassis and boysenberry flavors framed by strong acidity. This very firmly structured wine is almost astringent today and should be cellared for at least a couple years. Serious wine for the price."
90+ points -- Stephen Tanzer, International Wine Cellar


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