October 9, 2019|In Winery Spotlight

Tango & Tipples: An Argentinian Wine Exploration

Argentinian vineyard

What comes to mind when one thinks of Argentina? Picturesque landscapes, tango, football, and of course, wine.

Though perhaps most famous for its malbec, Argentina makes an array of wine that caters for many a palate. Tales of its tipples have rippled across the world in recent years, with Forbes magazine describing it as ‘a force to be reckoned with and James Suckling suggesting that they are creating ‘extreme wines’ that are ‘leading the way’.

Dhall and Nash represents two stellar Argentinian brands that both hail from the Cuyo region at the foot of the Andes mountains, which are watered by the melting snow as it comes off the mountains – Bodegas Santa Ana and La Mascota. These brands are sisters in a way, sharing the same winemaker, Rodolfo “Opi” Sadler – a legend in Argentine winemaking.

La Mascota winemaker Opi
Argentinian winemaking legend, Opi

Santa Ana was established 120 years ago making it one of the most established vineyards in the area, and Opi started with them in 1974. He first triumphed at the Wines of Argentina competition where he won the country’s prestigious “Best Malbec Trophy” (quite a feat when one considers how synonymous Argentina is with malbec!). Proving that wasn’t a one-off, he then won at the Decanter World Wine Awards in 2009 and his reputation as one of Argentina’s finest was sealed with a gold medal at London’s International Wine Challenge.

La Mascota is what Opi calls the realisation of a dream influenced by his family’s winemaking history and passion, and it really shows in every bottle. The International Wine & Spirit Competition named Mascota Vineyards in London as “Argentine Wine Producer of the Year” in 2014, selected by a jury made up of over 300 experts from 30 different countries. ”With an exclusive product portfolio… the winery epitomises the passion for making exceptional wines.” In 2018, Vinalies Internationales in Paris honoured the 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon as the “World’s Best Red Wine”. And it doesn’t end there. James Suckling has released 54 ratings for these wines, and 50 are 90+ points.

Vineyard in Argentina


Argentinian wine is a bit of a contradiction, in that its history is ancient and vast, with centuries under its belt and a hefty production, and yet it is only just starting to capture the real attention of wine-lovers internationally. In a few short decades, a glowing reputation has emerged and wine from this South American player is coveted amongst sommeliers the world over.

Argentina’s wine history is said to have started at the beginning of the 16th Century when the Spanish started to colonise South America. At the time, a variety called Criolla was popular, though it produced less-than-great quality wine, it did so in large quantities and was only the beginning of a long road to the modern Argentinian wine we know today.

Argentina’s neighbour, Chile, played a valuable role in cementing Argentina’s name in the wine history books. As Chilean winemakers started to focus heavily on producing world-class wines in collaboration with North American winemakers, Argentina followed suit, riding the coat-tails and branching out to cater to the growing demand for South American wines that was growing internationally.

Now, Argentina is the 5th largest wine producer in the world. Some would see the dry climate, harsh rocky terrain and quiver with fear. With a lot of places around the Andes mountains rarely exceeding more than 250 mm of rain a year and summer temperatures spiking to over 40°C, it is a harsh climate indeed. But winemakers swear this stresses the vines and therein lies the secret to good wine. A stressed wine focuses its energy on fewer grape clusters, and in doing so, the flavour and concentration is superb.

A big attraction? The price. Or better worded – the value. The price point this wine sits at is simply astonishing when one considers the quality of the wine. For a region that has been perfecting the craft for so long, your dollar goes a really long way where Argentinian wine is concerned.

Dhall and Nash’s Argentinian portfolio may be small but it is mighty. Santa Ana and La Mascota represent all that is great about Argentinian wine. Flavour, terroir, history and value combine in a way that is uniquely Argentinian and frankly we can’t get enough – and for the price, it’s possible to indulge as much as we want!

2015 La Mascota Cabernet Sauvignon
“Dry, spicy berry and plum aromas are a hit. An angular punchy palate is tannic and scraping, while raspberry, black plum and black currant flavors are bolstered by vanilla and spice notes prior to a live-wire rugged finish.”
Wine Enthusiast (90 points)

2017 La Mascota Malbec
“A great balance of smoke (partly from the oak ageing) and blueberry and blackberry aromas. Fullish body and a healthy amount of dry tannins. The finish is quite long and bold.”
James Suckling (91 points)

2014, 2017 Santa Ana Reserve Torrontes
White flowers, roses and citric aromas. Fresh, crispy and smooth with a balanced finish.

2017, 2018 Santa Ana Eco Cabernet Sauvignon
On the nose it displays blackcurrant and red fruit aromas layered with green peppercorns and spicy complexity. A well balanced mouth-filling wine textured with ripe tannins and a full lingering finish.

2018 Santa Ana Reserve Malbec
Sweet aromas of blackberries and plums, well combined with a subtle vanilla touch. Good structure and velvety texture, with soft tannins and a long aftertaste.