We were just talking this afternoon with one of our distributors about the health of Argentine wine sales in the market. The consensus seems to be that while people are perhaps a touch bored with value Malbec, those in the know are excited about some of the more unique blends and varietals coming on-line. It's somewhat of a coincidence that we have several wonderful new offerings arriving this week in this category. And there's much more than Argentina to talk about, so let's get to it!

Friday's Free Wine Tasting, 4:00-8:00
Alexandria Nicole "Shepherd's Mark" White, Horse Heaven Hills, WA
Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2016, Marlborough, New Zealand
D'Or et de Gueules Rose "Les Cimels", Costieres de Nimes, France
Something else White or Pink or Bubbly or... - TBA
Saint Gregory Pinot Meunier, Mendocino
Marquis de Riscal Rioja Reserva, Spain

Plus a Secret Sipper: Please ask DISCREETLY to taste our "Secret Sipper" - Robert Biale's "Black Chicken" Zinfandel 2015 (read below for details about the wine).

Saturday's Free Wine Tasting 3:00-7:00
Check Facebook early Saturday afternoon for our official post. We'll be pouring again!

New & Interesting Wines:


Hermanos Torrontes 2015, Cafayate, Salta, Argentina, $15.99
"Year in, year out, this is one of the finest examples of this signature white from Salta's super-high elevation vineyards. It is effusive in aromas of fresh fruit, flowers and mown hay. The palate shows a nice mix of lush citrus and tropical fruits with a pleasant hint of almondy bitterness." DM

Monte Volpe "Primo Bianco" 2015, Mendocino, CA, $12.99
This tasty white is certainly Italian inspired, but in no way is it limited to that theme; the blend is Pinot Grigio, Arneis, Chenin Blanc, Moscato, Friulano, Pinot Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc and Gewurztraminer. This is likely to be in Saturday's tasting lineup.

Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2016, Marlborough, New Zealand, Reg. $35.99, Sale $27.99
"Really striking aromatics. Unmistakable passion fruit and lime citrus with subtle grassy and herbal complexity. The bold, flamboyant fruit is what takes center stage here. There's a fleshy, succulent feel to the palate. Acidity keeps it vibrant and the flavors hold fresh and lively. As appealing as ever. Drink now." 90pts JS, also 90pts WS

St Urbans Hof Goldtropfchen Riesling Kabinett 2013, Mosel, Germany, reg. $27.99, Sale $22.99
"The 2013 Piesporter Goldtröpfchen Riesling Kabinett starts very precise yet still reductive on the nose displaying ripe peaches and mangos. On the palate the wines behaves like a Spätlese, sweet, lush, intense and piquant as it is. Structured by a concise acidity this is an excellent Riesling if you don't expect a light-footed Kabinett." 92pts WA


Whispering Angel 2016 ($29.99, Provence, France) is back in stock, so the riots have officially been cancelled.
"Alluring, with a creamy feel to the mix of white peach, mango and white cherry fruit flavors that stay nicely defined on the finish, thanks to a subtle mineral edge." 90pts WS

Bargemone "Cuvee Marina" 2016, Provence, France, $39.99
"The origins of this estate go back to the 13th century when it was the property of the Knights Templar. The large 400-acre vineyard has produced this fine rich wine, full of ripe red fruits and with a bright herbal edge. It is bone dry, crisp and ready to drink. Editors' Choice. " 91pts WE


Saint Gregory Pinot Meunier 2013, Mendocino, CA, $19.99
"This is a highly unusual wine made from a traditional Champagne grape variety, with 12% of the South African Pinotage variety blended in. It Aromas like dried herbs and cedar, intriguing flavors like black tea and pomegranate juice and a beautiful balance between acidity, ripeness and a lightly tannic texture make a compelling combination." 91pts WE

Zuccardi "Concreto" 2014, Altamira, Uco Valle, Argentina, $39.99
"The second vintage of this unoaked, groundbreaking Malbec, the 2015 Concreto Malbec was produced with grapes from Paraje Altamira that fermented in cement vats with indigenous yeasts (a constant in Zuccardi nowadays) and matured in concrete vats--hence the name--until it was bottled in December 2015. Here they use grapes that only come from parts of their vineyards that have less than 20 centimeters of soil and the calcium carbonate content is the highest they have, as they want this to be pure expression of chalk. The nose is a little reticent, not explosive, a little backward, transmitting a sense of seriousness and harmony. But, the palate is electric, you really feel like you're licking the limestone-covered stones that you have in the vineyards. The nose comes back slowly after time in the glass, with a cocktail of flowers and wild herbs, what you smell when you walk the countryside, especially after it has rained. This is a noteworthy follow up to the groundbreaking first vintage of this wine, possibly with one extra degree of precision and clarity, ending with a dry, dusty sensation, avoiding sweetness at all cost. This is all texture and salinity. Maybe not for all, but I loved it. 20,000 bottles were produced." We might get a few bottles of the precious 95pt rated 2014 vintage also - inquire!

Cuvelier Los Andes "Colleccion" 2012, Uco Valle, Argentina, $22.99
This is an awesome example of what a family with roots in Bordeaux (Chateau Leoville-Poyferre) can do in Argentina. Think of it as a "reverse" Bordeaux-style blend, featuring Malbec with lesser-but-significant parts Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Petit Verdot. This vintage hasn't yet been rated, but the previous 4 vintages were all rated between 90 and 92 points by Wine Advocate. This one is a likely candidate for Saturday afternoon's tasting.

Hermanos Malbec/Tannat 2013, Cafayate, Argentina, $15.99
"The 2013 Hermanos Malbec Tannat is a 70/30 blend with a judicious use of oak that is not felt. The Tannat is a very interesting variety for Salta as it combines very well with Malbec. The fruit is ripe and black, but there are no excesses. The nose has plums and dark cherries with something smoky. The Tannat is grown at the Valle Rupestre at 2,300 meters altitude. The palate is juicy, has good acidity and shows off an unusual blend that produces a wine of character. This is a traditional blend, but in the past it was not revealed that Tannat was used. The wine has no astringency. Rafael Domingo is convinced Tannat clearly will be part of Salta's future. Very good value." 89pts WA

Masi "Tupungato Paso Doble" 2014, Uco Valle, Argentina $15.99
"So there's a bunch of cool stuff going on here. This is a new project by the famous Amarone della Valpolicella (Veneto, Italy) producer Masi in South America. So it should come as no surprize that they are experimenting with some of the same processes and grape varieties that make their Italian wine so special. This is a blend of Malbec, which is of course Argentina's signature grape, with Corvina, the principle red grape of Masi's homeland. And the "Paso Doble" is the Spanish language equivalent of the Italian "Ripasso" - both meaning to "Re-Pass" the partially raisinated grape skins through the fermenting juice, producing a wine of exceptional complexity. The Italian examples of this style typically run $20-$40; so this is a steal for people who appreciate this style." DM

Masi "Modello delle Venezie" Rosso 2015, $11.99
Here's a fun and versatile pizza/pasta wine that's something different from the Sangiovese, Barbera or Montepulciano rut that a value Italian red drinker can fall into. It is made from regional varieties Refosco and Raboso. Of course the regional specialty cuisine-wise is risotto, so we'd be remiss if we failed to mention how well this would pair with that.

Robert Biale "Black Chicken" Zinfandel 2015, Napa, CA, $51.99
This vintage not yet rated, but the previous vintage was rated 94 points by mister Parker; here's the review for referrence: "the 2014 Zinfandel Black Chicken (its name coming from the code name used when ordering a jug of Zinfandel during the Prohibition era) is another relatively big-boned Zinfandel at 15.3% alcohol. Gorgeously proportioned, textured and almost chewy, this stunningly hedonistic and fleshy, flamboyant Zinfandel delivers abundant glycerin, fruit, quality and personality. Drink it over the next 7-8 years." WA

Rizzi Barbaresco "Rizzi" 2007, Piedmont, Italy, $38.99
"The 2007 Barbaresco Rizzi possesses striking inner perfume and a soft, caressing personality. Hard candy, licorice and crushed flowers are some of the notes that develop in the glass in this very pretty, understated Barbaresco. This is the most nuanced of the wines I tasted from Rizzi. Striking sweet rose petals linger in the empty glass. The Rizzi is a jewel of a wine, and is one of the best I have ever tasted here. Anticipated maturity: 2012-2020." 91pts WA

Marquis de Riscal Rioja Reserva 2011, Spain, Reg. $24.99, Sale $19.99
"A red with lots of floral, dried fruits, and hints of lavender. Full-bodied, very structured and powerful. Loads of fruit, and shows tension and form. Drink or hold. Impressive." 92pts JS

Lopez de Heredia Rioja "Vina Tondonia" Gran Reserva 1995, Spain, $109.99
"1995 was an excellent and early harvest, the grapes achieved full ripeness and were harvested under the sun during two weeks starting October 9. The wine, which exceptionally achieved 13% alcohol, is the usual blend, 70% Tempranillo, 20% Garnacho, 5% Graciano and 5% Mazuelo (Cariñena). Like all their wines, it fermented with indigenous yeasts in old oak vats and as a Gran Reserva it matured in old American oak barrels for ten years! Yes, it was bottled in November 2006 and launched in 2015, a full 20 years after the harvest. This light-colored, ethereal 1995 is the essence of Viña Tondonia. It has developed aromas and complexity gained with the time in bottle, of incense, leather, cured meat, cherries in liqueur, cold bonfire and spices. The palate is super-tasty, with fully-resolved tannins and very good acidity. The texture is super-fine, sophisticated and ethereal with gob-smacking balance. Intense, powerful and elegant, too. Hard to believe, but this red feels too young and while approachable, I'd wait a couple of years or more because it will be much better. The profile follows the style of the great classics of the 1950s and 60s. Bottles like this are the ones that created the López de Heredia myth. This could be lighter than the 1994, but in the long run I believe the 1995 will be the better bottle. " 97pts WA

Thanks for reading. We'll see you soon!

The North Loop Wine and Spirits Team

Key: WA=Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, WS=The Wine Spectator, IWC=Steven Tanzer's Old Publication, WE=Wine Enthusiast, V=Vinous (Galloni & Tanzer), JS=James Suckling, North Loop Staff: LI=Lisa, TD=Tony, DM=Darrin, PG=Patti, DH=Doug

North Loop Wine and Spirits
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55401