Bodega Noemia 2013

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So many wine drinkers start with Argentinian Malbec that it has lost its lustre with the wine cognoscenti, most of whom now love to seek out small European producers. Even among new world aficionados, one doesn’t hear much about Argentina these days, with most of the hype focused on the ‘New’ California, the Australia resurgence, South African movements such as the Swartland Revolution and New Zealand pinot noir and chardonnay. Despite this, in my view top Argentine Malbec is among the greatest red wines in the world.

End of the Earth Terroir

Rio Negro Valley

Rio Negro Valley

My claim seems a bold one, and it is. There are few producers that make Malbec at its true potential. However, when the unique high elevation terroir of Argentina is developed and expressed to its max, there is no replica for the Malbec based wines. The leading producer is unarguably Catena with its heavy investment into scientific research and very high quality top wines. But the producer making the best wines is Bodega Noemia, located in the Patagonia region in southern Argentina with its own unique style and terroir.

Noemia can’t really be considered a replicable indication of Argentina – it is the southernmost winery in the world with no real peers. But it does demonstrate the amazing potential of both the Rio Negro Valley in Patagonia and the Malbec grape. The project began as a result of the founders Hans Vinding-Diers (winemaker) and Countess Noemi Marone Cinzano (Italian wine producer) discovering a 1.5ha plot of pre-phylloxera Malbec vines planted in 1932. Those vines were planted by immigrants to this agricultural region irrigated by British colonists in the early 19th century and now known for pears and apples.

Vines at Bodega Noemia

Vines at Bodega Noemia

The Rio Negro Valley has remarkably unique terroir. First, it is comprised of former glacial soils and sedimentary soils, fed by the valley’s two rivers. Second, the valley is a desert and so extremely dry with only 7 inches of rainfall a year and maximum humidity of 30%. This makes the region free of disease. Because of the desert conditions, the vines are irrigated five times a year. They are sprayed once a year with copper sulfate and farming is biodynamic.

The vinification practices are fairly straightforward with indigenous yeast fermentation in cement and elevage in very fine grained French Radoux barrels.

The Wine

Great Malbec may be the most aromatic grape in the world. Yes Pinot Noir has greater diversity and surely competes, but the greatest malbecs possess an expressive, aromatic force that cannot be mistaken.

With this wine, the estate’s top bottling from those 1932 vines mentioned above, expect a deeply complex bouquet of floral aromas, spices, oranges and blue fruits. The wine is structurally perfect with fully integrated but long-lived tannins, fresh, bright acidity, and ideally balanced alcohol. This is one of the best wines I have had all year, drinking wonderfully now and will undoubtedly improve for 10-15 years.

$140+tax list price directly from Trialto (the J Alberto bottling (from 50+ year old vines) is available at Marquis and Kits Wine)


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