Nothing like two wine tastings in a single day... The Saturday marathon tasting in the small crowded room featured wines solely from the Bianchi winery of Argentina. I loved their Malbec from last Sunday, and in addition to trying their entire product line, I got to talk to Valentin Bianchi, the grandson of the founder who now runs the company. Nice guy. Note: all of these wines can be found here or here. The Elsa wines are the cheaper table wines, the Famiglia Bianchi wines are better and pricier, and the Particular wines are more expensive and made for longer cellaring.
Also, these are young wines, but you can add about six months to each to compare with Northern Hemisphere wines.
Wine 1: 2004 Elsa Chardonnay-Semillion. I've never understood why this combination isn't more popular. Usually made with little or no oak, and the Semillon gives a lot of bright and lively citrus flavors to the Chardonnay. Excellent choice for grilled chicken or heartier fish dishes. $9.
Wine 2: 2004 Famiglia Bianchi Chardonnay. Heavy mineral flavor, not bad, but there wasn't a lot in this wine that grabbed my attention. $17.
Wine 3: 2004 Famiglia Bianchi Sauvignon Blanc. Smooth, with very soft fruit flavors. A solid Sauvignon Blanc, though I'm still probably inclined to go with the Coppola or one of the fun New Zealand bottles when I'm in the mood for that grape. $15.
Wine 4: 2003 Elsa Cabernet Sauvignon. Heavy on the tannins, short on flavor, but probably won't age well. Reminds me a lot of some of the inexpensive Cabernet Sauvignons from Australia. $9.
Wine 5: 2003 Elsa Malbec. Lovely. Great Malbec for the price--soft flavors, balanced tannins, a bit of spice on the finish. Great bargain. $9.
Wine 6: 2003 Elsa Syrah. Very restrained like a classic Rhône, easy drinking, not big and brassy like an Australian Shiraz. $9.
Wine 7: 2003 Famiglia Bianchi Cabernet Sauvignon. Great black cherry flavors, but needs some time to mellow out the tannins. $17.
Wine 8: 2003 Famiglia Bianchi Malbec. Previously reviewed, but still impressive. Classy wine, good accompaniment for beef or lamb. $17.
Wine 9: 2003 Bianchi Particular Merlot. Another wine that no one would have guessed was a Merlot. This was a bold wine with a heavy tannin structure. $30.
Wine 10: 2003 Bianchi Particular Cabernet Sauvignon. Surprisingly smoother than the Merlot, with some good chocolate flavors. $30.
Wine 11: 2003 Bianchi Particular Malbec. I'm really biased towards this grape, but damn this was a great bottle. Everything that you love about Malbec but set to age gracefully. $30.
Wine 12: 1997 Famiglia Bianchi Cabernet Sauvignon. This one isn't for sale, but was an old bottle he'd brought along for the fun of it. Amazing dark fruit and plum flavors, smooth finish, and probably a good example of how these wines will age over time.