I’ve been a fan of Argentine reds for a long time. I’ve enjoyed the punchy power of those Malbecs, their dark, juicy fruit, stewed in the vat with beefsteak, it often seemed, but I didn’t mind. And the splat of gaucho tannin that hurled itself against my gums… No, I didn’t really mind that either. But something’s been happening in the last year or two, and above all, during this current covid-stricken year we are all still struggling through. The tannins have changed. And the fruit has changed. The Malbecs no longer taste as though sides of beef had marinated themselves in the vat. The tannins seem to have realised that their behaviour was just a little out of order in today’s world. The fruit on the reds is now literally flowing free in these wines. Oak flavours are down. Excessive extraction is down. Meatiness is down. Beauty and perfume are way UP. The sheer delight that Malbec used to hint at before whacking us with foursquare power is now leaping out of the glass. And the tannins no longer need to be endured; they seem integrated, the natural chewiness of the grape, not some brute imposition of oak and machinery.
In the last month or two, I seem to have tasted more wines from Argentina than almost any other country. And I’ve noticed another thing. More and more of the wines are talking about where they come from, where the grapes grow, with much greater precision than before. And more and more of the grapes are being grown organically. I’ve just opened up two £10 bottles of wine from a single organic vineyard in Agrelo, outside Mendoza, towered over by the Andes Cordilleras, and I was going to write a tasting note… But I didn’t. I just poured myself a glass, sat down at my desk, and dreamed of better days to come.