Ageing is a taboo subject in Argentina. Not because consumers, locals or foreigners do not want to try the smooth flavour of the years, but because, and this is the thing, wineries in general do not treasure wines and restaurants sell the last bottle regularly. But things are changing.
In the decades of 1990 and 2000, some wineries put away a silent stock. Silent, since it did not make much sense to tell consumers that some bottles had been stowed for the future. The thing is that now those same wineries are beginning to sell off these wines of twenty and thirty years, and some restaurants are willing to offer them.
As with those rare old clockwork mechanisms, the gears suddenly start to turn and the magic is released. But what are these wines..?
Among the wineries in question, Trapiche, Catena, Nieto Senetiner and Luigi Bosca take the lead. They have wines saved from the 1990s onwards – and some older bottles as well – which they are now offering in boxes from different vintages.
For example, in October of this year Saint Felicien launched a box of six bottles of Cabernet Sauvignon with the vintages 1993, 1995, 1999, 2004, 2005 and 2006 (US $ 400); or two bottles of each vintage, between 2004, 2005 and 2006 (US $ 115). While Trapiche offers its already classic Medalla, in a Retrospective case, which contains four bottles of the vintages 1994, 1995, 1997, 1999 (US $ S/D). Luigi Bosca also presents Finca Los Nobles Field Blend Cabernet Bouchet 2010, 2011 and 2012 in a wooden case (US $ 215), and Don Nicanor Single Vineyard Villa Blanca launched a case of three bottles, 2011, 2012 and 2013 (US $ 195 ).
At the moment, due to their scarceness, these wines can only be bought in Argentina, but there is huge value in old wines.
There are wineries like Rutini, that have kept bottles since the 1990s and that are for sale at astronomical figures. They market them directly, like Felipe Rutini 1993 at $1,800. Or Alta Vista, which has, behind a few sturdy bars, the history of its iconic wine, Alto, from 1998 onwards. At present, a box of 1998, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2009, 2011 can be purchased directly for US $1,050.
But as always happens in these cases, now that old wines are once again being spoken about, treasures are bound to appear. Many of these rediscovered treasures can be drunk at a considerable cost in the restaurant Don Julio in Buenos Aires. There, in the cellar that was opened this year, wineries like Norton, Catena Zapata, Bianchi, Noemía and Weinert deposited jewels of their past like in a bank. For example, there are bottles of Norton from 1950, in addition to their undefeated Norton Malbec 1974. Or, one of the best wines of the 1970s, Cavas de Weinert 1977.
Other restaurants, such as Oviedo or La Brigada, in Buenos Aires, also offer wines from the 1980s and 1990s. They are two cases in particular, especially the first, as Emilio Garip, its owner, kept wines in a refrigerated cellar from the opening of the restaurant. It has some of the complete verticals of classic Argentine labels and, in the last organised auction in Buenos Aires, a Trapiche Medalla 1983 aged by Garip was sold for $1,500.
The wonderful thing is that this rediscovery brings with it a demand for older Argentine wines: and the potential for ageing. There are bottles offering their testimonies to the past, and consumers to give their verdict.