Trumpeter Tupungato Mendoza Malbec/Syrah 2005
Rutini Wines produces this sub-$10 combination of equal parts Malbec and Syrah in the
Tupungato area of Mendoza province in Argentina; at 3300 feet, these vineyards lie snug at
the foothills of the Andes, the source, of course, of this arid region's copious irrigation
water. Argentina is the world's fifth largest wine producer, just after the United States, and
the wines continue to impress.
The Trumpeter combines two French grapes. Malbec, the grape best known in Cahors in the southwest of France but otherwise one that fails to thrive commercially in its native country, has become almost a synonym for Argentinean wine (a shame, since Argentina offers so much more than one grape). The Rhone's Syrah has become Argentina's fourth most planted variety. The combination works, with the result a good, drinkable dry red wine with medium acidity, straightforward notes of cherry and plum, with some tobacco (the result of a year-long aging in 70% American/30% French oak), and an appropriate alcohol level of 13.3%.
If there is a negative note at all, it is the wine's very tight nose: virtually nothing, swirl as I
might. The tasting circumstances might perhaps explain this, however; this was an art
exhibition opening, the wine was not decanted or allowed to breathe even a moment, and it
was served in a generic short glass.
With all its problems, Argentina gives us so much more than all those excellent tennis players; the wines are definitely to watch.
James Beard Award Nominee Elliot Essman