In 1999, the renowned winemaker Federico Benegas Lynch began a personal project involving the production of premium wines. Today, the wines of Bodega Benegas are established as a guarantee of quality and are earning plaudits across the world. The winery also played a key role in the development of Cabernet Franc in Argentina.
Wines of Bodega Benegas: a blend of traditional and contemporary technologies
In 1883, Don Tiburcio Benegas, a pioneer of wine production in Argentina, set out on a path characterized by hard work, excellence and savvy vision. 140 years later, his great grandson, Federico Benegas Lynch, continues the legacy with the same passion and obsession with high quality wines. This led him at the turn of the century to refurbish a historic winery built in the early 1900s in Luján de Cuyo.
At said establishment, Federico Benegas Lynch uses grapes from the family’s vineyards in noted regions of Mendoza to produce wine. In Maipú, they still tend the Finca La Libertad vines planted by his great grandfather with some of the first vines to come over from Europe. In the Uco Valley, they have Finca La Encerrada (in Gualtallary), where they are implementing organic methods in anticipation of certification in 2024.
Similarly, Bodega Benegas is working to obtain sustainable certification. To achieve this, they are adhering to guidelines such as Good Manufacturing Practices and Good Agricultural Practices, in addition to making rational use of water.
Bodega Benegas: a premium portfolio
Through the implementation of traditional practices and the incorporation of modern technology, Federico Benegas Lynch have created a portfolio of well-known, award-winning wines with excellent aromatic expressions that bring out the authenticity of the different varieties and their terroirs.
In terms of labels, Bodega Benegas have an eponymous line sold exclusively in international markets called Arraigo Benegas.
Germán Carrasco, the General Manager at the winery, describes the different wines produced by Bodega Benegas: “Family is a line of young, premium wines with a fruity, fresh character in which each wine is named after Federico’s children: Clara (Chardonnay), Carmela (Cabernet Franc Rosé), Luna (Cabernet Sauvignon) and Juan (Malbec).
He says that Benegas Estate, meanwhile, “represents the richness of the vineyards and the identity of the winery with four varietals, in addition to our classic Don Tiburcio, a blend of Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot.”
The Single Vineyards “are aged for 12 months in barrels and represent the maximum expression of our vineyards. We get Malbec and Pinot Noir from Finca La Encerrada (Gualtallary), while the Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and our distinctive Sangiovese come from Finca La Libertad (Maipú).”
Finally, the flagship line, Benegas Lynch “is a selection of different lots within the vineyard, and is aged for 18 months in first use barrels. These are unique, limited-edition wines that offer the greatest possible expression of the terroir, with enormous complexity and aging potential. This line features a Malbec, a Cabernet Franc, and a blend of old vineyards.”
The hallmark of the head winemaker
Federico is the founder and head winemaker and thus the person who decides upon the style of the wines, the harvest times and the blends. Carrasco says, “The first twenty years were focused on learning what we needed to achieve the style that Federico wanted. The wines have evolved in accordance with consumer tastes. Federico is a good listener and takes note of what’s going on around him. Maintaining his own style, he knows how to evolve to please consumers.”
One of the main characteristics of his wines is that the oak is present without being overwhelming, providing balance and elegance. Finally, to meet demand, Carrasco mentions unoaked limited editions that stand out for their concentration and how they express the identity of their terroir.
Precursors to Cabernet Franc in Argentina
Don Tiburcio Benegas was the first to bring Cabernet Franc vines to Argentina, planting them in 1899. In France, the devastation wrought by phylloxera at the end of the nineteenth century was such that French winegrowers had to look overseas to rescue their plots of Cabernet Franc: they found a specimen at Benegas that was unique in the world, because it preceded phylloxera.
A century later, around the year 2000, Cabernet Franc in Argentina was used mostly in blends: that changed in great part thanks to the work of Federico. At the beginning of the project, he hired a prestigious French consultant, who described his great grandfather’s vineyard as a rare jewel. However, he still recommended blending with other varieties. Federico decided to follow his instincts and make a pure version. This bold decision resulted in a spectacular wine.
International prestige and high scores
Bodega Benegas’ main markets are Argentina, Europe, the UK, the USA and Canada, but they have great expectations of further expansion into Europe especially. This is driven by the high scores received by several of their wines. Carrasco explains, “Last year, we produced a Malbec from two different altitudes, from two very different vineyards, that created fantastic complexity. Our goal is to offer new options to meet consumer trends while maintaining the house style.”
In terms of awards and honors, the 2018 Benegas Single Vineyard Malbec earned 95 points from Decanter while Benegas Lynch Malbec was included for two years running in the prestigious American critic James Suckling’s top 100 and won the 2021 Wine Stars Taste Award given by Harpers, among other distinctions.