What with the weather being so unpredictable of late and sunshine never guaranteed, I was extremely excited about tasting some delicious fruity Argentinian wines to at least have a taste of some warmer climates… and that brings me to this delightful tasting at Amathus Soho!
Bodegas Carelli is run by a father and son team, both named Enrique, meaning that the winery is well into its third generation of Carellis! Enrique junior is hosting this event and welcomes us all warmly with a great smile and enthusiasm and leads us straight into an introduction of the Carelli’s winery.
The winery lies on 34 degrees latitude (hence the name of one of their brands of wine) and the vineyards sit on various different altitudes, which define the style of wine that they produce – the higher the altitude correlating to the better the quality. It was built in 1895 and Enrique’s grandfather bought the building in 1943. The walls are made of Adobe brick that our 1m thick to help protect the wines during fermentation. The Argentinian climate is a key player in the resulting wines; they have about 2cm of rain a year and even this is mostly hail when it occurs. The vines are therefore watered using a careful channel system from a reservoir. Intense afternoon sunshine is also a danger so they have mastered the best way to shape the vines so as to protect them; winding them in an East-West orientation. The product of the vineyards, careful vine management and magnificent wine making skills are 34 degrees and Carla Chiaro ranges of their wines – the 34 Degrees range being the first up for tasting today!
The aim of this range was to really express the fruit itself and show the quality of the grapes that can come from the Argentinian climate, altitude and great wine making of Bodegas Carelli. These wines have spent no time in oak and are young, fresh and bursting with delicious fruit. The white Torrontes showed floral aromas and flavours with hints of apricot and tropical fruits, yet had a crisp dry finish. We enjoyed this along with some mature cheese that had chilli flakes inside showing that this is a great wine to have with spicy foods! The Cabernet/Merlot rose had notes of strawberry, raspberry and red cherries but was still a dry style of rose. The balance of acidity and length made this great as a wine you could drink on its own but would certainly stand up to enjoying with some light foods. The Cabernet Sauvignon was delicious and just what you want from a drink now, fruity red – black fruits, brambles, great smooth tasting and a lovely finish! And who can forget Argentina’s claim to fame and the first of two Malbecs in the tasting; lovely fruit flavours and velvet tannins and a smooth finish; great to enjoy with the cured meats that were there to nibble on though the tasting.
The other two wines on tasting are from their Carla Chiaro range – situated at 1,100m altitude and thus a cooler region and suitable for some more complex styles of wine. The first, the Bonarda, didn’t disappoint. The first of the tasting to show some oaky notes due to gentle ageing it expressed black fruits, black cherries and fine tannins. The rich fruit flavour was balanced elegantly with hints of oak and the long lasting finish was simply delicious. Last, but not at least in any way, their 2009 vintage Malbec. Aged 12 months in second fill oak barrels, it showed a complex array of vanilla, sweet spice, black fruits; balanced perfectly with well rounded tannins and a very smooth finish.
These wines are great for an evening in with friends, or simply to enjoy with dinner – in fact, I took the Torrontes and the Cabernet Sauvignon away with me for an evening of just that! Thanks Enrique!
By Clare Corlett