Want to know what the new generation think you should be drinking from Argentina? The Sub40 tasting is probably one of the best indicators of what the youngest generation of winemakers and sommeliers think scores top and which winemakers are leading the way in the style stakes.
Now in its third year, Sub40 is an independent tasting where a panel of winemakers (and a few sommeliers) under the age of 40 taste through wines produced by winemakers under the age of 40 and award them each a score out of 100.
The tasting serves as feedback and an open discussion about winemaking styles today, and also celebrates the top scoring. There were 71 wines presented this year with producers from Salta, San Juan, Rio Negro, Neuquen, Buenos Aires and Mendoza. The 11 flights took over 7 hours to taste and discuss.
This year as well as a Top 10 that scored the highest, the Sub40 also announced the Top Sparkling, Top White, Top Garage Wine and the Sommelier’s Choice. The tasters also chose the Top Senior Winemaker.
Without further adieu, here are the results:
Best Sparkling: Agustín Lopez (Alma 4, Sparkling Pinot Noir Rose)
Agustín is part of a quad of friends who started a winemaking project together while studying winemaking at university. When a professor said you can’t make a sparkling red wine, they all took umbrage and decided to make a sparkling red wine and prove that teacher wrong. Alma 4 sparkling Bonarda was born. Today the four amigos (Agustín Lopez, Mauricio Castro, Sebastian Zuccardi, and Marcela Manini) make more than just sparkling red – they also make this delicious award-winning sparkling Pinot Noir rose.
Best White & Best Garage Wine: Guiseppe Franceschini (La Giostra del Vino)
Guiseppe took home a double win this year, although for two different wines. His Bacan Sauvignon Blanc was the best white in the competition, and his Bacan Malbec was the top garage wine of the competition. Originally from Veneto in Italy, Guiseppe came to Mendoza in 2007 and has been making wine here ever since. Doing double harvests each year, one in Italy and one in Argentina, has given him quite a unique perspective on winemaking. As a consultant for various wineries in Mendoza, he is best known for his work with white wines including Caelum’s Fiano.
Sommelier’s Choice: Marcos Fernández (Doña Paula)
Doña Paula is a household name in Mendoza, but Marcos Fernández is only just stepping into the light. Having taken over David Bonomi as the Head Winemaker at Doña Paula in 2014, he has previous experience at wineries in Mendoza (where he spent 8 years at Finca Decero) and also spent some time in California working with Paul Hobbs. At Doña Paula some of his first harvests are coming to market, and in Sub40 he won Sommelier’s Choice for the blend he put together of 2012 Malbec from Gualtallary under their top label Alluvia Parcel.
The Top 10 Winemakers Under 40
10: Santiago Mayorga
One of Argentina’s most promising winemakers in the new generation, Santiago Mayorga cut his teeth at Mendel where he worked under famous consultant Roberto de la Mota for many years. Since 2013 he has been winemaker in charge at Nieto Senetiner, which is where the winning wine is from: Bodega Cadus, Finca Las Torcazas Malbec. Mayorga was well recognised for his work with not only Malbec but also Semillon at Mendel, and he has replicated his success in the white variety at Nieto Senetiner as well as bringing a fresh approach to their top line of wines, Cadus.
9: Marcos Fernández from Doña Paula with Alluvia Parcel (see above)
8: Victoria Prandina
The only female winemaker to make the Top 10, Victoria Prandina has been working at Concha y Toro’s Bodega Trivento under the guidance of one of Chile’s top winemakers Enrique Tirado as consultant. The winning wine was Eolo Malbec 2013 – the winery’s top wine – which has been gaining international recognition over recent years. She previously worked as a lab analyst and Trivento is her first placement as a winemaker – one which she is certainly experiencing a lot of success in.
7: Juan Pablo Michelini
Winemaking is in Juan Pablo’s blood. After following in the footsteps of his older brother, Matias Michelini, into winemaking, Juan Pablo has become an influential winemaker in his own right. As Head Winemaker at Zorzal winery in the Uco Valley, Juan Pablo has been a leader in the concrete egg movement in Argentine winemaking. Although that doesn’t mean to use he doesn’t use barrels. The winning wine Piantao Cabernet Franc spends 36 months aging in barrel and the result is one of the top wines, and a special edition, in Zorzal.
6. Sebastian Zuccardi
Another concrete convert, Sebastian Zuccardi is the third generation Head Winemaker of Zuccardi winery and their new Uco Valley winery has over 200 state-of-the-art concrete amphorae personally designed by Zuccardi himself. The winning wine is a homage to that: Concreto, Malbec 2015. From their Altamira vineyards, Concreto is a young wine that is made with whole bunches and aged only in concrete. Concrete amphorae aren’t the only innovation under Zuccardi’s belt, he has been experimenting studiously for more than a decade and other wines that have come to light from his experimental lab include a sparkling red wine and unusual varieties in Argentina like Ancellotta and Caladoc.
Learn about the terroir of Uco Valley in this video, and about how Malbec from different Uco Valley wine regions tastes in this video, with Sebastian Zuccardi.
5. Juan Ignacio Arnulphi
San Juan just isn’t as sexy as the Uco Valley. However, new generation winemakers like Juan Ignacio Arnulphi are trying to change that. His Malbec from Pedernal under the Finca Las Moras label certainly impressed the tasting panel pushing him into the Top 5 Sub40 winemakers. Anyone living in Argentina knows that Trapiche’s San Juan label, Finca Las Moras offers serious good value Syrah but don’t overlook the Malbec as this tasting proved.
4 Nicolas Navio
After a few years in Mendoza and doing harvests in Europe and the US, Navio made his way down south to Neuquén in Patagonia. Although lesser known than Mendoza, Neuquén made it to the Top 5 with two wines in the tasting and one of them was Navio’s: Primogénito Malbec from Bodega Patritti. Navio has worked with Mariano Di Paola as a consultant for many years and his wines at Patritti include more than just Malbec: Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
3 German Di Cesare
Another winemaker from the Trivento clan, German Di Cesare took third place for this wine: Trivento Golden Reserve Malbec. Di Cesare has been at Trivento for 15 years producing wine for the Argentinean branch of Concha y Toro, and has seen many new wines and lines come to light over his time. Golden Reserve is one of those wines he forged the way for, and it took came in at third position in the tasting.
2 Mauricio Vegetti
With a background as a cooper making barrels, Vegetti has plenty of experience in the barrel room and his winning wine showed an overall appreciation and balance between oak, fruit and acid. Gauchezco Oro Apelación Gualtallary comes from one of the top wine regions in the Uco Valley, which Vegetti convinced the owners of the Maipu winery, Gauchezco, to invest in. Vegetti is also a firm believer in Petit Verdot as a wine variety in Mendoza and makes a great single variety under the label.
1 Sergio Pomar
The winemakers’ choice for top winemaker under 40 is Sergio Pomar from Bodega Malma. In a tasting dominated by wines from Mendoza, it is a real accolade to the winemaker and region that a Neuquén wine won the title. Pomar moved down south in 2006 and has worked in both Rio Negro and Neuquén. Today he makes wines at both Bodega Malma and Bodega Fin del Mundo, which share the same ownership. The winning wine was Malma Reserva de Familia Malbec, which you might be pleased to know only costs around $20USD.
Best Senior Winemaker: Edgardo Del Popolo
The younger winemakers also picked a top wine from their mentors, the senior winemakers (or over 40s, to be more polite). The wine that stole the show for the tasting panel was the Benmarco Malbec Finca los Arbolitos 2015 which he makes at Dominio del Plata where he is winemaker and agronomist alongside Susana Balbo and her family. Del Popolo is one of Argentina’s most renowned winemakers not only for his work at Dominio del Plata but also for his own boutique brand, PerSe, with David Bonomi.