Long before its rising reputation as one of Argentina’s premier winemaking sub-regions, Luján de Cuyo already had an established history of being a garden for the indigenous Incan and Huarpe Peoples. In the centuries ahead of Spanish and Italian immigration, the clever and resourceful native populations were able to harvest a bounty of squash, corn, beans, and quinoa by developing irrigation dams and canals fed by the Mendoza River system; gradually transforming the landscape they called Araucanian cuyum puulli (‘sandy land’ or ’desert country‘). Eventually, in the 17th and 18th centuries, the mineral rich soils and long dry days blessed with a plethora of sun and a respite of cool nights combined as some of the most desirable conditions for cultivating grapevine, anywhere.
In the modern age, in large part due to a prolific output of the greater Mendoza region, Argentina has evolved into the wine world’s 5th largest producer!
Other evolutionary development has also occurred among Argentina’s vintners as they continually incorporate outside expertise (particularly French and Italian) with their own, significant cadre of home-grown talent. Since becoming the first Argentinean female to earn an Oenology degree in the early still-male-dominated 1980’s, Susana Balbo honed her wine craft at the renowned Catena and Zapata Bodegas before the 1999 launch of her own; made up of a wide-ranging portfolio that includes BenMarco, Susana Balbo, Nosotros, and Crios. With a 35-year focus on developing varietal whites, her continuing accomplishments include the informal anointment as the Queen of Torrontés, a third term as the President of Wines of Argentina’, and summarily maturing into one of the most influential, new-age winemaking ambassadors, at home and globally – felicitación.
As evidenced in this week’s DéClassé featured bottle of Crios Chardonnay 2014, self-described as a youthful ‘everyday’ wine, the emphasis is on freshness and a palatable finesse in the finishing; in the ‘Susana Balbo way’. With an over-oaked Chardonnay style now a vestige of past winemaking practice elsewhere, here in this recipe only 30% of the vintage sees a brief aging in barrel before blending with the majority that’s been stored in Stainless Steel tanks. The result is a crisp and balanced style that still features the acidic brightness, herbal accents and tropical fruit notes of the Chardonnay grapes; more so than the creamy vanilla tones that typically develop in fully oaked versions. At this price, it’s hard to imagine a better buy to make your summer ‘everydays’ special!
CRIOS CHARDONNAY 2014
VINTAGES – LCBO Product #243196 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 13.95
Sugar Content Descriptor: XD
Made in Mendoza, Argentina
By: Susana Balbo
Release Date: June 11, 2016
This pale golden/yellow and medium-bodied white has an abundance of tropical fruit aromas and flavours. Serve with canapés of goat cheese/roasted pistachio, lightly curried vegetable pasties and pickled yellow cherry peppers, or with mains of apple and sausage stuffed chicken breast and lemon buttered asparagus.