Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Prepare to Be Blown Away by Trivento

Given that Trivento means three winds in Spanish, it's no surprise I've been blown away by the elegant, aromatic and concentrated wines by this Argentinian powerhouse. With more than 100 markets around the world including the US, Canada, Brazil, and the UK, it won't be long before wine geeks and dabblers alike will know that Polar, Zonda and Sudestada are the three winds that blow across the sunny and arid land of Mendoza, giving Trivento it's whimsical name.

Established in 1996 by someone you probably have heard of (Concha Y Toro, Chile's largest winemaker), Trivento is leading the growth of Argentinian wines in the UK. With 5 tiers to their portfolio, from an entry level range titled Tribu to their premium Eolo, and a winemaker working on each range, Trivento produce approximately 750,000 cases per year - well and truly in the wine game.

Going through something of an adolescence, Argentina has previously been thrown in the 'South America' category with regard to wines, but given the recent popularity of the value-for-money Chilean wines sneaking into the UK market, Argentinian wine makers are keener than ever to prove they are stiff competition for Chile and a star in their own right.

Yes, Chile has given us great wines at an affordable price, but Argentina already has an edge - does Chile have a wine synonymous to its name? Feel free to disagree, but I'd say no. Not sure what I mean? Let's picture a Saturday night, you're out for a meal with friends in a trendy corner of London and have ordered a big, fat, juicy steak...what wine will you choose? I'd have at a guess that many of you would say Malbec, and more specifically, Argentinian Malbec.

Those in the know will probably argue that this has now become a bit clichéd, but no doubt it's because of this that UK wine drinkers are now more interested and intrigued by what Argentina has to offer.

Having learnt that Malbec, or 'mala boca' as it's known in Mendoza, translates as 'bad mouth', I felt a sense of irony given that last week I tried perhaps the most elegant and sensuous Malbec of all time. 

Nestled at a cosy table with representatives for Trivento in the UK, two other wine writers and wine maker Maxi Ortiz, I spent a lunch date at Casa Malevo in London savouring a classic Argentinian menu, paired with a seven stunning wines from the Trivento portfolio.

On arrival, a glass of crisp, fresh and elegant Trivento Tribu Viognier, 2012 (£6.49 per bottle at Flagship Wines) was a refreshing alternative to the typical Argentinian whites of the Torrontes grape. The luscious peach, pear and tropical fruit flavours are from grapes from the small Uco Valley area in Mendoza, which Maxi described as producing "wild wines...the intensity of fruit, colour and concentration is amazing". An easy drinker, this beauty is ideal for sharing with friends and food - the ethos of the Tribu range.

With our starter of empanadas and provoleta (grilled provolone cheese), we enjoyed the Trivento Golden Reserve Chardonnay, 2012 (£14.50 from Slurp.co.uk), also from the Uco Valley in Mendoza. At 14.0% it packs a punch, but with the grapes picked over 3 harvest dates from the same vines, there is an unexpected balance of body, ripeness, fruit and freshness. Tropical fruit aromas and flavours make for a complex, unctuous Chardonnay with subtle spice and vanilla from the 6 months in French oak - a nice suprise for someone who shys away from Chardonnay.

Over our main, Asado (slow grilled flank steak) with chips and chimichurri sauce, we enjoyed four glorious reds. The vibrant garnet hues of the Trivento Golden Reserve Syrah, 2011 (£14.50, also at Slurp) entice you to take a sip (ok, gulp!) of this powerful fruit bomb of raspberries and blackberries, with a hint of elegance from spice and smoke from 12 months in oak. If you want in-your-face personality, it doesn't get more real than this!

Having tried the Trivento Golden Reserve Malbec, 2011 (£15.00 per bottle from Tesco) before, I already knew it was love at first sip! Complex and fruity, with the sweetness of blackberries, sharpness of redcurrants as well as a subtle smoky, oaky character, it's heaven in a glass. Approachable to both wine novices and wine geeks alike with it's lovable and juicy personality, it's worthy of a special occasion and the perfect partner for steak, or Thai food (thanks for the tip Maxi).

Next up? A comparison of the 2005 and 2010 vintages of Trivento's flagship wine, Eolo, (£34.95) showed Argentina's serious side. The 2005, a blend of 90% Malbec and 10% Syrah was still surprisingly bright and youthful in the glass but undoubtedly mellow and rounded whilst the 2010, 100% Malbec, was young, fresh and fruity with flavours of plums and figs and hints of sweet spices like cinnamon. Ok, yes, the alcohol is pushing 15% in both, but paired with a fat, juicy steak or a chunky mature cheddar, you soon won't even notice.

Feeling tipsy yet? But wait, there's more! For dessert, scrummy dulce de leche pancakes were enjoyed with vanilla ice cream and Trivento's Brisa de Otono, a late harvest Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier blend where grapes were picked 3 months after typical harvest dates to increase sugar levels and fruit concentration.

Not to rub it in, but there were only two bottles left in the UK, I say were because we drank them, so now there are none! Flavours of grapefruit, peach, honey and vanilla make for a delectable and luscious sweetie - a little like wine maker Maxi!

Sorry girls, he flew back to Buenos Aires last Thursday, just in time for his stag do on Friday - because 8 days schmoozing and partying with UK wine industry folk clearly wasn't hard core enough for an Argentinian wine maker!

The verdict? I want to drink Argentinian wine for at least the next few months. There is no doubt that Trivento are paving the path to a successful future by showing the versatility of the region and making their wines accessible to all palates and price points. Watch this space...

Mank thanks to Ben and Ed at Concha y Toro UK for the invitation!

Andes image from tony.bailey's photostream on flickr under the Creative Commons license.

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