Tanzer Int'l Wine Cellar Jan/Feb 11 Issue

Argentina & Northern Rhone

Focus on Argentina

Argentina has had an extended run of very good to excellent vintages, so vintage generalizations are of limited value.  The most talented producers manage to make very good wine year after year. One excellent example is the relatively cool 2008 season, which most growers in Mendoza had to harvest on the late side. Clearly some did not get their fruit totally ripe and the patience of some late pickers was foiled by sharp mid-April frost. Yet the 2008s have turned out to be some of my favorite Argentine wines of recent years because they offer unusual aromatic lift, complexity and intensity, and a rare lightness of touch and elegance.  I was particularly taken with some 2010 torrontés bottlings—a variety, by the way, that continues to gain in popularity in the U.S.

   2009   BenMarco Malbec   89   
   2009   BenMarco Cabernet Sauvignon   88   (2008 in stock)
   2008   BenMarco Expresivo   91     (2007 in stock)
   2010   Budini Malbec   88   (2009 in stock)
   2009   Crios de Susana Balbo Malbec   89   
   2009   Crios de Susana Balbo Cabernet   89   
   2010   Crios de Susana Balbo Rosé of Malbec   87   (2009 in stock)
   2010   Crios de Susana Balbo Torrontés   90   
   2008   Susana Balbo Cabernet Sauvignon   91   
   2008   Susana Balbo Late Harvest Malbec Red Dessert Wine   89   
   2009   Susana Balbo Late Harvest Torrontes Dessert Wine   90   
   2007   Susana Balbo Brioso   91   (2006 in stock)
   2009   La Posta Malbec, Paulucci Vineyard   89   (2008 in stock)
   2009   La Posta Malbec, Pizzella Vineyard   89   (2008 in stock)
   2009   La Posta Bonarda, Armando Vineyard   87   (2008 in stock)
   2009   La Posta Cocina Blend   88   (2008 in stock)
   2009   La Posta Cocina Malbec   87   (2008 in stock)
   2010   La Posta Cocina Blanco de Blancos   87   (2009 in stock)
   2008   Luca Beso de Dante (Proprietary Red Blend)   92   
   2009   Luca Malbec   89   (2008 in stock)
   2009   Luca Pinot Noir   88   (2008 in stock)
   2009   Luca Laborde Syrah   90   (2008 in stock)
   2007   Luca Nico by Luca Malbec   91   
   2009   Tikal Patriota (Bonarda/Malbec Blend)   90   (2008 in stock)
   2009   Tikal Amorio (Malbec)   90   (2008 in stock)
   2008   Tikal Jubilo (Proprietary Red Blend)   91   (2007 in stock)
   2009   Tikal "Natural" Malbec (Organic Grapes)   89   
   2009   Mapema Malbec   88   (2008 in stock)
   2008   Mapema PZ Malbec   91   
   2010   Mapema Sauvignon Blanc   88   (2009 in stock)
   2008   Mendel Unus (Malbec/Cabernet)   90+   (2006 in stock)
   2008   Mendel Finca Remota Malbec   92(+?)   
   2010   Mendel Semillon   90   (2009 in stock)
   2008   Mendel Lunta Malbec   89  (2008 in stock)
   2010   Altivo Torrontes  87 (2008 in stock)
   2009   Altivo Malbec 88 (2007 in stock)
   2010   Ichanka Sauvignon Blanc 88 (2009 in stock)

2009 and 2008 Northern Rhone Wines
Domaine Rene Rostaing
2009 Cote Rotie  90-92 (2009 later this year)
2009 Cote Rotie La Ladonne 92-94 (2006 in stock and CA)
2009 Cote Rotie Cote Blonde 94-96  (2006 in stock and CA)
2008 Cote Rotie Cuvee Classique 90 (2006 in stock & 2008 in California)
2009 Condrieu La Bonnette 92 (sold out & no 2009 imported in the US)


The Eco-Side of Sake

Did you know…

Vine Connections' portfolio of premium Japanese ginjo sake comes from ancient, family-run breweries that not only utilize traditional brewing methods but also employ many practices to help preserve the land, keep the environment clean and ensure the purest ingredients are used in their fine brews. Some of these practices include:

Pesticide/chemical-free: The brewers seek out premium sake rice growers who use no, or virtually no, harmful pesticides, fertilizers or other chemicals.
Recyclable ingredients: By-products from the sake rice milling process are reused as animal feed or for pickling.
Purest water sources: Our breweries are built near or directly above the natural springs and rivers that supply their water. The water from these sources is typically so pristine and pure that there is no need to filter or adjust it in any way.
Sustainable community: Our brewers often use locally grown sake rice, sometimes from neighboring farmers and employ kurabito (brewing staff) to not only support the local community but also maintain quality control over growing and brewing practices.

Here are some specific eco-friendly brewing practices followed by some of the brewers.
Tentaka Kuni
-Tentaka Brewery is JAS (Japan Agricultural Standards) organically certified.
-Most sake is made from certified organic rice.
-They use no pesticides (not even organic fertilizers) and no chemical disinfectants.

Ama no To
-"Go local" is the motto of this brewery. The brewery only used rice from a cooperative of 19 local growers. They also source brewery staff from this same coop, which is very uncommon. Brewers typically look outside the prefecture for brewing help.
-All rice is organically grown and no pesticides are used to sterilize or disinfect the seedings. Instead, seeds are treated with hot water to eliminate undesirables.
-100% of the stalks (what remains after the seeds/grains are removed) are composted and returned to the soil.
-They are careful to annually rotate their rice fields, which prevents nutrient depletion in the soil and maintains soil fertility. It also helps to control specific pests, which eliminates the need for pesticides.

Nanbu Bijin

-This brewery recently won second place in a national competition on sustainable agricultural methods for growing rice completely free of chemical fertilizers.

-Rihaku uses no chemicals in their brewery. Ozone-treated water is the exclusive cleanser used throughout the brewery. Said to be "Mother Nature's purifier and disinfectant," ozone is a naturally occurring component of fresh air that can be created with an ozone generator to help disinfect, sterilize and remove bacteria.
-Using ozone-treated water also ensures their waste water is clean and does not need to be stripped or diluted by using additional water.


-Suwa Brewery's well water is so pure that the only filtering it needs is a quick pass through a cotton filter.
-Maturation after brewing is done at room temperature, not in refrigerators, in order to conserve energy.

-Rice is grown using less than half of the amount of fertilizers allowed by Kumamoto prefecture.
-By-products from the brewing process are reused for other purposes.

Sato no Homare
-"Good sake comes from good rice, good rice comes from good soil, good soil comes from good water, and good water comes from good trees. Trees sustain and protect a sake brewery." - Brewery President, Yoshiyasu Sudo
-900 years old Paulownia trees surround the brewery in order to keep the temperatures down in the summer to conserve energy.
-Sudo Honke is committed to preserving as many trees as possible. Their belief is this will help greenify the earth by providing a reduction in CO2 gas.
-Only organic rice is used for sake brewing

As an additional benefit to those with food sensitivities or dietary restrictions, the brewers' sake is sulfite free, gluten free and contains no preservatives or additives.

Events Calendar

Happening Now on Twitter

Follow Cream on Twitter