Wine Club time again! This month, we have wine from one of the furthest south regions in the world, Neuquén, also known in regional wine terms as La Patagonia.
Each month, we have some goals with the wines we choose. We want you to enjoy the wine, first and foremost. We also want you to learn something. And we strive to introduce you to a new favorite.
To accomplish that second goal, we have a variety of strategies. Sometimes we focus on a single grape varietal, such as last month with carignan. Sometimes we focus on a region, as we did a few months back with Priorat. Sometimes we focus on unique styles or techniques. Sometimes we span the New World and the Old World, sometimes we stick to one or the other.
With this month, we decided to employ nearly all the strategies at our disposal. We picked two wines made from the same grape, from the same region, one of which represents a unique technique, the other adhering to traditional production protocol. Not only is the region the same from both wines, but it is a region that you almost certainly have had very few, if any, wines from. Lastly, it’s in a country that makes a TON of wine and already has the pedigree to hold its own against top tier wine producing countries the world over.
So, why Patagonia? We love wines from Neuquén (La Patagonia) because they tend to have a subtler flavor profile than wines from Mendoza, and tend to have a bit more acid due to the cooler climate. While many of the same grapes you find in Mendoza grow well there, pinot noir - at least in theory - is the grape that should thrive there. In practice, since pinot is the hardest international red grape to grow no matter where it’s planted, it’s only been recently that producers have figured it out.
But wow, have they! These two selections epitomize the reasons that pionering winemakers came to Patagonia in the late 90’s. Similar in climate and overall terrior to Northern California, Patagonian pinot noir reflects some of the same qualities as those from their Northern Hemisphere brethren: richer, juicier, fuller, with black cherry/currant notes, and a rounder mouthfeel than pinot from Burgundy or Oregon (or Chile, for a South American counterpoint).
ANIELLO SOIL BLANCO DE PINOT NOIR
Like last month, we landed on a blanc de noir, or “a white wine made from a red grape.” Pinot noir has a long history of being made into blanc de noir. The most common, and famous, example is certain types of Champagne. We chose a stellar still blanc de noir de pinot noir from Aniello Winery. Look out for stone fruit and floral tones on the nose and a full, though still crisp, body.
Aniello makes the wine by lightly pressing the grapes and avoiding extended skin contact. Due to a constant breeze, they do not have to employ any pest control measures. This is true of much of Patagonian wine country, and is one of the reasons it a burgeoning region.
ALTO LIMAY PINOT NOIR
For the second wine, we chose a bottle that perfectly encapsulates Patagonia pinot noir. The grapes are grown near the river Limay, which cools the vines and provides perfect growing conditions for them. The resulting wine has a bright, partially translucent red color and gives off notes of flowers, red currant, raspberry, and strawberry and vanilla on the nose. Juicy on the palate, the wine also possess ultra-fine tannins, which add depth and dimension. Finally, it packs an earthy punch with a balancing minerality and a cocoa bitterness on the finish. We cannot stress this enough: if you like Northern California pinot noir, you will love Patagonian pinot noir.
As always, the release will be this coming Sunday from 3pm to 6pm. Join us to sample some contextual wines, all of which will be 10% off. See you there!