Artesano Organic Malbec/Cab Franc – Argento Redux
Argento wines from Argentina used to be one of the mainstays of my public tastings with their Malbec. Sharply priced and with supermarket availability, it was always a crowd-pleaser. Then the Argento brand seemed to disappear. So I’m delighted to see them back in UK retail with a new brand, Artesano de Argento. This wine is the first release under that banner, which is certified organic and Fairtrade to boot. There are more upmarket credentials than before, implying care and craftsmanship. Yet the rrp for this wine is £10.
Argento’s sustainable credentials
Argento first appeared in 1999, with a range of varietal wines typical of Argentina, including its “signature” red grape, Malbec.
Today, Bodega Argento owns 1,100 hectares in the Mendoza region, at the foot of the Andes. It includes five vineyards amounting to 450 ha. It also works with growers in a dozen Mendoza subzones.
Argento is now one of the largest producers of organic wine in Mendoza, with 305 ha certified organic in 2019 and is on a rapid journey to full organic certification. I’m also impressed that their commitment to sustainability doesn’t stop there. Wastewater recycling, the use of drip irrigation, and 100% recycling of packaging are in place. Additionally, there is full Fairtrade accreditation for all of its vineyards. ¡Bien hecho!
So does this wine live up to its billing?
Artesano de Argento, Malbec/Cabernet Franc, Agrelo, Mendoza, Argentina. 2018. 14.5%
Artesano is a powerful blend comprising 70% Malbec with 30% Cabernet Franc. There is some oak influence, too, though this is subtle, with 20% of the Malbec fermented in French and US oak and 30% of the Cabernet Franc matured in French oak.
The overall result is inky and dense in colour. At 14.5%, it’s a bold statement with plenty of power, but thankfully not a simple fruit bomb. As you might expect, there’s plenty of rich and velvety blueberry and plum fruit, but an appealing savouriness leavens that, a hint of violets and pencil shavings too – both on the nose and the palate. There’s a welcome complexity that many rivals lack at this price point, and the wood treatment is subtle, not overt. Add to that a good length and a spicy reprise on the finish.
At this stage, there are tannins aplenty, not enough to be awkward, but it means this wine is at its best with food.
I’ve no doubt another year or two will round things off a little more. However, I suspect 99% of the time that this wine will be drunk within hours of purchase, and why not. So I recommend that you buy two bottles, drink one now and keep one for longer.
The perennial food choice with Malbec is always big meat, especially beef and steaks a la Gaucho, or summer barbecues. However, the inclusion of Cabernet Franc adds refinement and complexity should you prefer alternatives.
Right now, this wine makes for a great winter warmer, so I paired it with Scotch Broth, a filling stew of beef, winter veg and pearl barley. Similar alternatives would be Irish stew (with goat), Welsh cawl (add leeks), Lancashire Hotpot (with mutton), or Ratatouille (meatless).
Are you feeling sophisticated? Then try Boeuf en Croute. I’ve bought another bottle to wash that down.
Excellent value, this wine is in 400 Sainsbury’s stores and online at £10.00
Welcome back Argento, this is a winning advert for quality organic and Fairtrade wine!
Juan de la Cruz Videla
S/N Cruz de Piedra
And if you like this, try their single vineyard Malbec called Finca Altamira.