No More Worries on the Long Trip to Mendoza
Gone are the days when we would fret the whole long flight down to Buenos Aires about whether the trip would be worth it. Nowadays, with critical consensus emerging that Argentina’s top wine producers are bottling their finest wines, we instead thank our lucky stars we endured all of those 11-hour flights followed by bumpy 5-hour bus rides into the high desert of Mendoza. All that time on the wine trail, tasting and talking with winemakers and growers, built relationships that now deliver bargains that beat the market.
Consider Anabelle Sielecki and Roberto de La Mota’s Mendel, Argentina’s greatest boutique estate, which Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate has called “The Best of the Best” and awarded a PERFECT five stars.
Mendel is one of the only estates in Argentina modeled after the “garagiste” châteaux of Bordeaux’s Right Bank. Set in the high ground of Luján de Cuyo, in the foothills of the Andes, Sielecki’s dad first planted the property in the 1930s. The root structure is well over 80 years old and exceedingly deep for Mendoza, spidering through light sand and gravel, fending off hydric stress and seeking out spring water reserves in the substrata during the arid summers. Daily temperatures before harvest might touch 90, only to drop precipitously overnight. De la Mota explained that this radical diurnal temperature change allows the old vines to push out less than 2 tons per acre of terrifically concentrated, small-cluster fruit — explaining both the luscious, juicy core and the fine, supple tannin structure so unique to Unus.
Argentina’s 2013 vintage earned Robert Parker’s highest score to date — 95 points. But other critics are just as bullish on Argentina these days. British Master of Wine Tim Atkin hails the “dynamism and vitality” of the Argentinean wine scene, producing Malbec that’s “more exciting today than it has ever been.” Market Watch Magazine just published a survey headlined “Argentine wine is coming of age.” James Suckling declared “Argentina is on a roll.” Antonio Galloni’s Vinous called Argentina’s current offerings “strikingly different from the wines of just a decade ago” — “fresher, more complex, better-balanced.”
No wine better displays the upper echelons of Argentine achievement than this 2013 Mendel Unus. Classic Argentine blackberries and wild raspberries waft out of the glass, followed by lively spice-box infusion and the top-pedigree Pauillac graphite character. The attack is profound — an explosion of small black fruit and violets, dense and compact, still harboring the restraint that has always made Unus Mendoza’s most compelling answer to both Oakville hedonism and Pauillac refinement.
The 2013 Mendel Unus is brilliant purple/black to the rim. Explosive aromas featuring a sumptuous mix of crushed blackberry, black cherry, and blackcurrant, tinged with sweet spice and new-wood cedar. Rich and terrifically compact on entry, with Pauillac high-tones and plenty of Oakville bombast, filled with luscious and soft crushed-black-fruit preserves, splashed with crème de cassis, finishing with powerful dusty-tannin backbone, arguing eloquently for a decade or two of cellar slumber.
95 points from Suckling. 93+ from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate. $58 on release. $34.99 today. 450 bottles have been set aside for WineAccess, courtesy of Anabelle and Roberto and many years’ worth of arduous journeys. Shipping included on 4.