Vine Talk: The hunt for a new-world terroir

Tue May 11, 2010 7:05am EDT
 
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By Felix Salmon

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) -Given the choice, few people would travel from Argentina to New York City in January.

But Mike Evans did, leaving behind his idyllic vineyards in Mendoza to take some meetings in New York and Washington, both of which were grey and wet.

Evans is the owner of Vines of Mendoza, a kind of time-share operation for rich Americans who want to buy a micro-vineyard for $50,000 an acre or so and make their own vanity wines.

His operation hasn't been around long enough to actually produce its own wine yet, but after I predicted that his output would be comprised of standard-issue high-alcohol fruit bombs, he invited me to lunch at Keen's Steakhouse to show just how interesting Argentine wines could be.

The wine he brought certainly piqued my interest: the 2005 Laborum from El Porvenir, a small winery high up in the Andes, is made entirely from tannat grapes, which are mostly infamous for being the prime ingredient in barely-drinkable Uruguayan reds.

Here's a classic old-world combination: local winemakers, using local grapes, making small-batch wines full of individuality and local character.

Except it didn't work out that way.

The wine was young, and tight: despite decanting, it didn't really even start to open up until our lunch was almost over. But at the same time it was also very much the kind of new-world wine that many adventurous wine drinkers these days are getting a little bored of: high in alcohol, fruit-forward, sweet.   Continued...