Bodega Noemia J. Alberto 2012
I haven’t had an Argentinian wine in at least two years. The country has fallen off my map for lack of truly distinctive, site driven wine. Indeed, Argentina and Chile still dominate the under $15 category in BC (under $10 in the US) with their reams of commodity offerings. The super-premium wines rarely deliver compared to similarly priced wines from the old-world. $100 Malbec or top shelf Cote-Rotie?
As with all generalities, exceptions can give a greater sense of possibility and truth.
The Other Argentina
Bodega Noemia is not your standard Argentinian winery. First of all, they are located in Patagonia way in the south of Argentina, not Mendoza. Second, these are old-vine, pre-phylloxera massale selection vines. Patagonia is an extreme desert climate with very little rainfall and high elevation, and amazingly no disease pressure. There is almost no pollution here.
J. Alberto is the second wine of Bodega Noemia, but receives the same meticulous treatment of hand berry selection, natural ferments, etc. There is good information on the specifics of viticulture and vinification on the winery website. While the first wine of Bodega Noemia is made from vines planted in the 1930’s, this second wine is no slouch either. The J. Alberto vineyard was planted in 1955 from massale selected vines. The vineyard is very genetically diverse, and the wine is basically a field blend of Malbec and Merlot. There is no need to treat these vines at all. It’s a unique and unparalleled vineyard – and exemplifies the true terroir possible in Argentina.
I find it particularly interesting that the Bodega has experimented with ripeness and ultimately decided that this vineyard expresses itself below 14.5% ABV, higher than which its terroir is obscured. I wish more wineries would experiment with ripeness in this way. This is the real path to site expression, not an ideological adherence to low or high alcohol.
This is stunning wine, really. A nose of violets and ink. The palate is not shy with the wide spectrum of mineral notes and unique dark fruit that has no equal elsewhere in the world. The fruit character is simply and honestly truly site expressive and cannot be replicated. This is an edgy red wine with real nerve running through it and proper, balanced structure for ageing.
You can feel and taste the old vines and high elevation in the sheer concentration of the wine coupled with its expressive aromatics and fresh acidity. A very impressive wine. Bodega Noemia is one to watch and collect.
~$45 at BCLDB (special order only)