These wines were received as tasting samples.
I have to say, after tasting this range of wines from Bodegas Salentein, I’m developing a affection for Argentinian wine, at least for those made by Salentein. This is the second collection of wines we’ve tasted (their Killka wines were the first), and we have one more group after this. With each group of wines we have gained an appreciation for the style and quality of the wines produced by Bodegas Salentein.
2015 Bodegas Salentein Reserve Chardonnay — medium yellow in the glass. Generous aromas of melon and ripe citrus are supported by toasty notes. Apple flavors predominate, a combination of ripe yellow apples and tart apples, along with wet-stone minerality and lingering hints of spice. The flavors last a very long time. This wine also has a bit of weight and roundness in the mouth and bright acidity. 13.5% abv. SRP $18.99
This Chardonnay is easy to like on its own and loves food — I enjoyed it with creamy pasta and it was a lovely match. Wood aging is evident in this wine, but not to the point that the lovely fruit flavors are overtaken.
After pressing and settling, alcoholic fermentation took place in French oak barrels. The wine went through partial malolactic fermentation and spent a bit of time aging on the lees before bottling. This, I think, explains the roundness and nice weight in the mouth of this 100% Chardonnay.
2014 Bodegas Salentein Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon — medium ruby in the glass with generous red fruit aromas of plums and raspberries. Blackberry and plum flavors are primary but made more interesting by earthy and cedar spice backnotes. Tannins are well integrated in this medium-bodied wine and the finish is medium in length. 14% abv. SRP $18.99
If I could use only one word to describe this Cabernet Sauvignon it would be elegant. The flavors and aromas are a pleasing combination of both red and dark fruit with just the right level of ripeness and wood influence. It is a lovely wine to sip and will certainly pair well with a pork roast or roast beef.
Many varietally-labeled Cabernet Sauvignons are blended with a bit of Merlot, Cabernet Franc or other varieties to lend acidity or flavor. Not so with this 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. It stands on its own, and successfully so.
2014 Bodegas Salentein Reserve Malbec — dense ruby-violet in the glass with dark fruit aromas and hints of smoke. Rich, complex dark fruit flavors of blackberries combine with plums and crushed flower stems. The fruit flavors are an interesting combination of tart and ripe fruit which lends complexity and results in juicy acidity. Tannins are very drying and linger along with the flavors on the finish which is fairly long. 14% abv. SRP $18.99
Pair this wine with anything grilled — tri-tip or flank steak would be perfect. Oven-roasted root vegetables or Brussels sprouts with a bit of char on them would be amazing with this wine. Once again, the winemaker has succeeded in making a flavorful, rich wine that is not over ripe, too heavy or over oaked. Really, a delightful Malbec, and 100% Malbec at that.
Bodegas Salentein – The Vineyards
Bodegas Salentein farms vineyards planted on three estates, or fincas, in the Uco Valley, about an hour south of Mendoza. Of their nearly 5,000 acres, over 1,700 acres are planted to vines. The oldest plantings were made 30 years ago, and the most recent only two years ago.
But, it’s not the acreage or the age of the vines that are the most interesting part of the story. It’s the elevation of the vineyards. Finca El Oasis is the oldest of the three estates and is planted at between 3,445 and 3,937 feet above sea level. La Pampa is planted at between 3,937 and 4,265 feet above sea level. These two estates are the source of the grapes for these Reserve wines. Finca San Pablo sits at an elevation of 5,577 feet. By way of comparison, the highest mountain AVAs in the Napa Valley reach an elevation of 2,600 feet.
At these elevations the diurnal temperature change is significant, as is the strength of the sun. The Uco Valley receives only eight inches of rain annually and its soil is alluvial, sandy and rocky, so water drains away quickly. Grape vines must work hard to put down roots and produce fruit.
The vines, the soil, the elevation and the winemaking all combine at Bodegas Salentein to produce these flavorful yet elegant wines. At $18.99 these wines represent an extremely good value. Look for them.