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Sipping w/ Pablo Cunéo, Bodegas Luigi Bosca, Argentina

World Malbec Day, April 17, is an annual observance that celebrates this noble red grape. Malbec’s roots are from southwest France, but it has achieved superstar status in Argentina where it has flourished.  In fact, Argentina now produces seventy-five percent of Malbec, and its wines have become world-renowned.

One example is Bodegas Luigi Bosca. Established in 1901 by the Arizu family, Luigi Bosca is one of Argentina’s few continually owned and operated family wineries. Its main winery is in Lujàn de Cuyo, a sub-appellation of Mendoza. The Arizu family was instrumental in helping establish Lujàn de Cuyo as an official CDO in 1989. The winery also vineyards in Maipú and and the Uco Valley, also in Mendoza.

Head winemaker, Pablo Cunéo, has worked with Luigi Bosca since 2017. If anyone is an “ambassador” for Mendoza, it is Cunéo, who praises its climactic conditions for making exceptional wines.

“We are fortunate to have very stable growing conditions year after year,” he noted. “Mendoza has a continental climate bordered by the Andes and high elevation vineyards. Its poor alluvial soils help to produce a high concentration of fruit. The cool winds from the Andes, low humidity and ample sunlight are ideal for ripening the fruit with exceptional vibrance and color, especially as you go higher in altitude in the Uco Valley.”

Bodega Luigi Bosca’s De Sangre collection of reserve wines was introduced in October 2021. (Importer: Frederick Wildman)
“De Sangre means ‘of the bloodlines,’ and these wines are close to the Arizu family, special reserve wines usually brought out to serve for special occasions. Now, they want to offer them to the world,” said Cuñeo.“The wines are made from grapes sourced from select parcels to show the characteristic of each variety.”

We tasted three selections:

De Sangre White is a blend of Chardonnay (50%), Semillon (35%) and Sauvignon Blanc (15%). “The Chardonnay is fermented for eight months in French oak to attain toasty, caramel notes. The Semillon has herbal and chamomile characteristics, and the Sauvignon Blanc adds citrus and acidity. We thought this wine would well with a variety of dishes, from a light creamy pasta to spanakopita to pan-roasted trout almondine or Florida grouper in a tropical sauce. So many ideas came to mind!

The De Sangre Cabernet Sauvignon (100%) is blended from grapes from four different parcels in Mendoza. “Each adds something special to the wines,” said Cuñeo. After 12 months aging in oak with malolactic fermentation, this wine delivers pleasing black fruit and peppery notes and ripe, balanced- not overly agressive- tannins which we appreciated. Consider this wine for a for grilled meats, game, or roasts. We enjoyed it with a savory roast chicken.

De Sangre Malbec is one of three Malbecs produced in the collection. The Malbec DOC Lujàn de Cuyo is aged 12 months in oak with malolactic fermentation, which imparts soft elegance and a ripe roundness to the fruit laced with notes of cacao and coffee. This Malbec is silky and plush. We discussed grilled meat, steak and barbecue and tasted at home with David’s “vegetarian” meat loaf.

Cuñeo feels Lujàn de Cuyo produces the most representative of European Malbecs made in the 19th century- very classic. “I call it [Lujan de Cuyo] the Malbec that conquered the world,” he said.

Hear more of our conversation with Pablo Cuñeo on The Connected Table SIPS podcast on iHeart Radio (ir your favorite podcast platform). www.luigibosca.com

 

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Malbec Match Made in Heaven: Alain Dominique Perrin and Michel Rolland

One made a name for himself running one the world’s most renowned luxury brands. The other is a world-renowned oenologist. When Alain Dominique Perrin, formerly CEO /Chairman of Must de Cartier and Cartier International, purchased the historic 16th century Chateau Lagrézette in Cahors, France, he tapped Michel Rolland to oversee construction of the new wine production facility. Using his eye for detail and design, Perrin oversaw Chateau Lagrézette’s restoration, and Rolland tended to the vines.

Michel Rolland recalled a first meeting with Alain Dominique Perrin. “We drove through the vineyards in a convertible car that belonged to Brigitte Bardot. That was classy!”

At the time (1988) Chateau Lagrézette was still a winery cooperative. Says Rolland, “This was a first for me: to consult for a private client with wines vinifed in a ‘kolkhotz’! I quickly discovered the drawbacks of the cooperative and immediately warned Alain that my intervention would useless. Not being a man to take ‘no’ for an answer, he told me, ‘I promise you a beautiful Lagrézette winery in just a few years.'”

Alain Dominique Perrin (right) Michel Rolland (left)

Construction on the new winery was completed in 1992. The first two vintages of Le Pigeonnier and Cuvée Dame Honneur became flagships of the appellation. Chateau Lagrézette has three vineyards. Caillac Vineyard, located between the winery and the Atlantic Ocean, and Landiech Vineyard, to the west of Chateau Lagrézette, both produce Malbec, the estate’s main focus. Rocamadour Vineyard, sixty kilometers from Caillac, produces Viognier.

Michel Rolland, Maguy LeCoze and Alain Dominique Perrin at Le Bernardin

Thirty years later, the two are still close and toasting to their success and good health. We had the chance to join them at a dinner September 27, 2018, that Perrin hosted in honor of Rolland at the New York Times four-star-rated Le Bernardin. Pairing two of Chateau Lagrézette’s silky Malbec wines with two of Chef Eric Ripert‘s sublime seafood dishes, Octopus with Tomato Salsa with Red Wine Molé Sauce, and a combo of Hawaiian Walu and Seared Waygu Beef with a Tomato Summer Roll in Spiced Red Wine Sauce, were both unexpected pleasures.  www.chateau-lagrezette.com 

Chateau Lagrézette aerial view. The estate dates back to 1503.

 

Listen here to our show with Alain Dominique Perrin

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Michel Rolland Embraces Malbec in Argentina

Michel Rolland has been called “The Flying Winemaker.” The Bordeaux-based oenologist consults for more than 80 estates and in 13 countries around the world. When he’s not boarding planes to another far-flung wine region, you may find him riding a horse surveying his vineyards in Argentina.

Photo source: www.michelrolland-argentinaexperience.com

Rolland is a partner with four Bordeaux familiars in Clos de los Siete, seven estates located on 2000 acres in Argentina’s Uco Valley  Mendoza at the foothills of the Andes. Here, temperatures vary widely from day to night which helps produce wines with high tannins and concentrated color. The pebble and clay soils help drain the melting snow coming from the Andes, while the vineyards’ south to southwest locations soak up the sun.

All of Clos de los Siete wines are Malbec blends known for their refined style, ageability, and value. All are priced under $20/bottle. They are imported by Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits are the number one Malbec blend from the Argentina in the U.S.A.

Recently we sat down with Michel to taste of a few of the wines, including a 2015, 2011 and 2006. All were well-structured and less fruit intensive than many Argentine Malbecs. What struck us about the 2006, and even the 2011, was how well the wines aged.

Rolland said 2011 was a tough year since many of the vineyards were destroyed by hailstorms. Yields were low but overall, the vintage was good with strong aging potential. He noted that the 2011 was the first vintage to use a little Cabernet Franc in the blend. The younger 2015 was from a cooler year and showed ripe fresh fruit. The 2006, a warmer year, showed the wine’s ageability and potential to enjoy for perhaps another four years. Info: www.closdelossiete.com 

Listen to Michel Rolland here on The Connected Table SIPS on iHeart.com/iHeart App