Fans of Californian Cabernet Sauvignon and 'New World' styled Cabs in general are always looking for the next good deal. They are conditioned to be on the lookout because the usual pattern is 1) wine is found at good price, 2) wine is 'discovered' and becomes popular, and 3) price goes way up in 2-3 vintages due to demand, or quality goes down trying to expand volume. Lather, rinse, and repeat year after year. We often recommend people experiment with some of the Argentinean Cabs, as they often have strong American wine-making influences that come across in the flavor and character. In particular Catena Zapata stands out for their history with Napa wine maker Paul Hobbs (early Opus One, Simi wineries) and their commitment to quality well before others in Argentina. They have long been the front-runners for identifying the very best sites and creating some of the most heralded wines from the Mendoza in their 'Alta' series for Cabernet, Malbec, and Chardonnay, as well as the higher end single vineyard programs. Now they are bringing that experience back for the more everyday wine drinker to enjoy in their 'Appellation' series. These wines identify smaller climates inside Mendoza that are particularly noteworthy for growing certain varieties due to unique soil and climate characters. In much the same way people look at Napa, these bottlings are helping to create a much more detailed picture into the diversity the Mendoza region can provide wine drinkers.
Agrelo is a small town in the Lujan de Cuyo district that has a long history as the center of the high end wine world in Mendoza (think Oakville/Rutherford) in Napa). The higher altitude and sandy well drained soils are ideal for bringing Cabernet Sauvignon to a consistently high intensity level, and this absolutely delivers on those promises. Deep purple color in the glass, the dusty dark fruit and pencil lead aromas jump from the glass almost immediately, with deeper darker berry character evolving over several hours. In the mouth the fruit is both intense and surprisingly agile, with very fine tannins and a nice pop of acidity that brings out a lot of lively red fruits across the palate. A noticeable and significant step up from their regular Mendoza bottling, this doesn't NEED decanting to soften the tannin or oak presence like so many other younger Cabs, but deserves time to full appreciate the quality possessed for a wine at this price point. This is a classy Cabernet and a true value.
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The Best of the Best.
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