By Priya & Alex, A Vine Romance
The only thing better than enjoying a good bottle of wine is getting to meet the person who made it. We were fortunate to have that opportunity recently as we sat down with winemaker, Felipe Stahlschmidt from Pascual Toso.
This Argentinian winery is celebrating it’s 125th anniversary. That’s a nice age for a “New World” region. They describe their production facility as “an old Chevy with a brand new Mercedes engine inside”.
It’s a great analogy for an older building that has been completely updated with state-of-the-art production equipment.
Alex: Pascual Toso is a fairly large producer with a full portfolio of wines ranging in price from $13-150. Impressive for its size is the fact that all its fruit comes from its own vineyards.
Priya: That’s right, they don’t buy any of their grapes. In fact, Felipe holds a masters degree in Viticulture and Enology so he knows how to grow.
Alex: They’ve also enlisted world-renowned flying winemaker from California, Paul Hobbs, as a consultant.
Priya: I love the term “flying winemaker”. It’s such a cool way of describing someone who literally flies around the world working with various vineyards and winemakers.
Alex: While Malbec is what we typically associate with Argentina, Pascual Tosos’ cabernet sauvignons were what surprised me the most.
Priya: Fun fact: their top three markets are USA, Japan and Canada (in that order) and in Japan they sell 10 bottles of cab sauv for every one bottle of malbec. That’s interesting because here in Canada it’s the exact opposite.
Alex: True, previously I’d never have gone looking for a cabernet sauvignon from Argentina but having tasted the cabs from this producer I can see the enormous potential the region has for it. There’s a certain ‘wildness’ to the fruit that is unique.
Priya: Another unique factor is that Felipe doesn’t believe in fining or filtering his wines, saying that these techniques often remove some of the flavours he’s looking to keep in his final products.
This is a bonus for me because it essentially makes their wines vegan-friendly as no animal products (milk, egg, isinglass) has been used. Alex, what did you think of the tasting overall?
Alex: These are wines that would appeal to the majority of Canadian wine drinkers. The fruit is incredibly rich and ripe, the tannins ultra-soft and polished, they’re very clean with just enough acidity not to intrude on the enjoyment of the wine. Basically drinking these wines is like wrapping yourself in a fluffy, warm duvet. And the quality of all their wines is above average for the price and style.
Priya: Oh now I want to wrap myself up in a blanket and have a glass of their malbec! Sounds like they’ve accomplished their goal then, because they did say that they work on the sweetness of the tannins to make their wines easy to drink, and approachable to the consumer.
Alex: They certainly have done that. All their wines are ready to drink now, which is what many consumers want, while some of their finer offerings will still age well for a handful of years. What was your top sip yesterday my lady?
Priya: I enjoyed all their malbecs and being a casual drinker rather than a sommelier like you, I honestly couldn’t tell too much difference between them all.
However, my favourite was the Limited Edition Malbec which was developed especially for Canada. It’s super smooth and dry but with a sweet tinge at the end. Also has lovely dark cherry and vanilla notes which scream for it to be drank beside a roaring fireplace–in my humble opinion! How about you?
Alex: I was a big fan of their 2012 Magdalena Toso, a blend of 73% malbec and 27% cabernet sauvignon. This is an expensive, premium wine but it certainly stands up to what you get out of California in the same price bracket of $100.
It’s incredibly concentrated and so dense that it almost implies a meatiness factor, with intense, musky aromas of dried flowers, campfire marshmallows and sweet plum jam.
It’s extremely polished and its texture is like woven silk. I’d like to give an honourable mention to their 2014 Malbec which, at $13.95 gives you everything you want: sweet, black fruit, a bit of soya sauce, plush textures and light tannins.
Priya: Agreed, you can’t do much better in the under $15 price range. I quite enjoyed this one as well. Do you know what else I enjoyed? Holding a double-magnum bottle! This wine isn’t available in Canada the agency representing this winery was kind enough to share it from his personal collection. The wine of course was superb but so was the experience of holding a bottle that holds four litres of wine!
It was a great pleasure to hear his passion for making wine that we all can enjoy. The other wines we sampled were the 2013 Alta Malbec, 2013 Alta Cabernet Sauvignon, 2013 Selected Vines Malbec, 2013 Barrancas, 2013 Limited Edition Cabernet Sauvignon, 2012 Pedregal, and their 2014 Sparkling.
Priya & Alex, A Vine Romance
Wine Blogger & Sommelier
Alex and Priya are not only wine lovers, but lovers in real life. No wine snobbery here — they’re all about bringing wine back to the masses.
Alex is a Certified Sommelier who lives, breathes, and of course, drinks wine. He is very passionate about wine and is currently the in-house sommelier for celebrity chef Susur Lee’s “Frings” restaurant.
Alex was the only person in a class of over 200 students to earn a perfect score on his Wine Specialist Exam in Napa, California.
Priya, an actor and on-camera host with top Canadian film talent, is a casual drinker and an entertaining hostess. With her background as a comic performer and producer, Priya has also produced and hosted events for groups of 100 to more than 2,000 guests.
Together, they are the hosts of the television series, “The Drink” on Bell Media, where they visit the best venues and events to experience wine and fine beverages in Toronto.