A Wine Lover's Weekly Guide To $10 Wines - An Argentinian Kosher MerlotOur previous wine came from Argentina. Maybe this explains why we are reviewing another Argentinian wine, one that is kosher to boot. The Mendoza region is Argentina's most productive wine area, responsible for some two-third's of the country's wine. One of Mendoza's best zones is the Uco Valley where the days are hot, the nights are cold, rainfall is hardly abundant, and the growing season is long. The Andes Mountains are close by and supply the water.
Today's wine comes from Finca La Celia, founded in 1890. Its name comes from the founder's daughter, who took a very active role in the winery's expansion. The winery makes a wide variety of wines on its 600-hectare (about 1500 acre) kilometer-high (about three fifths of a mile) vineyards.
OUR WINE REVIEW POLICY All wines that we taste and review are purchased at the full retail price.
Wine Reviewed Don Mendoza Reserve Merlot (V) 2007 Argentina 13.5% alcohol about $9.50
Let's start with the marketing materials. Description: Like a bowl of mixed berries (blackberry, raspberry, blueberry) in a bottle. Dry and fruity with good balance and a very solid finish. Great for your best gourmet pizza. And now for my review.
At the first sips the wine was long and powerful. The initial meal consisted of slow-cooked beef ribs with sliced potatoes and a side of eggplant roasted with the skin in lots of olive oil and garlic. The meat intensified the wine's taste but the eggplant weakened the wine somewhat; however, it was still powerful. This wine expanded when I added some spicy green jalapeno pepper sauce.
The second meal included zucchini and onions stuffed with rice and ground beef, cooked with potatoes and spices including pepper, garlic powder and cumin. The wine was long and flavorful, dominated by dark cherries. It was rather acidic and surprisingly light.
The final meal centered on store-bought barbecued chicken wings in a sweet and sour sauce and chicken thighs whose skin was dusted with paprika. The sides were rice and green beans in a homemade tomato sauce. With the wings the Merlot tasted of oak and dark cherries. The thighs brought the cherry taste to the forefront. In both cases the wine was pleasantly acidic and round.
I tasted this wine with two cheeses; a goat's milk cheese and a Swiss Emmenthaler. The goat's milk cheese flattened the wine. But with the Swiss the fruit, mostly black cherries, came back.
Final verdict. No doubt about it, I will buy this wine again. It's very well priced, especially if you are looking for kosher wine whose processing requirements increase the cost. I plan to review more of Finca La Celia wines if and when they become available in my area.
Over the years Levi Reiss has authored or co-authored ten computer and Internet books, but really prefers drinking fine German wine, along with friends and the right foods. He teaches sundry computer classes at an Ontario French-language community college. Visit his global wine website http://www.theworldwidewine.com with a weekly column reviewing $10 wines and new sections writing about
(theory) and tasting (practice) organic and kosher wines.