Tasting the Cool Climate Wines of Argentina’s Secreto Patagonico

By Melissa Pulvermacher

Another tasting during my time at the 2016 i4C Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration was with Secreto Patagonico’s Production and Sales Manager, Tomas Groppo Parisi.

Secreto Patagonico is in the southern hemisphere in Patagonia, Argentina. A lot of us immediately think of Mendoza, heat and Malbec when we think of Argentina, which may leave us a bit confused with the relevance to cool climate wines in this situation.

Patagonia is actually in the south of Argentina and remember that in the southern hemisphere, the south is a lot cooler than the northern regions. Mendoza, the Malbec-famous region, known for its altitude and ripe, full-bodied red wines, is located in the north of Argentina where they get a lot more heat units than Patagonia.

Patagonia has incredible diurnal range (very cool evenings) and as a result, the wines are fresh with high, natural acidity.

This difference is extremely important, stresses Tomas, as people may not realize the diversity of the country’s wine regions. Patagonia is producing cool climate, fresh and high-acid wines, which are completely different from the famous powerful Malbecs of the country.

The altitude in Mendoza (usually around 1000 metres above sea level) contributes to the freshness of the region’s wines. In Patagonia, altitude is not necessary as the region is already so cool; 320-350 metres above sea level is more the average in this area.

Video: Tomas talks about Patagonia, cool climate and Secreto wines.

“Argentina is a red country. It’s true, but there are white varietals here too.”

Patagonia is a windy region, which means they need vines that will defend against this challenge with thicker skin. As a result, these thicker-skinned grapes extract powerful colour becoming an embraced characteristic of the region’s wines.

Secreto Patagonico is a family winery, which was started by Tomas’ father approximately 15 years ago. The entire family is involved in the passionate winery endeavour.

The majority of the region’s wineries are small, premium and family-focused.

Tomas is passionate about the region as he emphasizes how healthy their environment is. The region is made up of 30% land, but only 5% population. Argentina never experienced the devastation of the phylloxera vine root louse, which means all of the vines still have their original rootstocks. This poses challenges, but Tomas believes this contributes to the fresh, purity of the local wines.

Secreto Patagonico harvests entirely by hand using small boxes that carry no more than 40 kilos. The team minimizes pumping and bruising by using gravity at the top of the hill to move the juice during the winemaking process.

The winery owns 50 hectares of vineyard and uses 40% of the crop for their wine production and sells the remaining grapes. Secreto follows the single-vineyard philosophy and classifies their wine with Classic, focusing on fruit expression, little oak maturation and elegance, while the Reserva classification means the wine will be matured for 12 months in French oak.

I had the opportunity to taste the 2012 Unoaked Chardonnay and the 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, both currently available in LCBO Vintages. The Chardonnay is 16.25 and the Cabernet is $18.95.

The Chardonnay has a natural, fresh salinity and a stony/steely note that follows through to the palate. The palate is round and the acidity maintains the backbone of this wine.

The Cabernet is subdued on the nose with the same stony note as I found on the Chardonnay. With a touch of medicinal on the palate, the black fruit expression remains consistent from nose to palate.

The acidity is right upfront exuding freshness in this Cab. I was expecting green tones, but the ripeness was a pleasant surprise.

I also tasted other red expressions of Secreto including their 2015 Malbec, 2015 Pinot Noir and 2012 Malbec Reserva. The main lesson of this tasting was that these reds are distinctly different from the North.

The Malbec is not like other Argentina expressions. These reds are elegant, restraint and hone in on a primary freshness that Secreto embraces.

Secreto Patagonico is represented by Family Wine Merchants and will continue to introduce more of their cool climate expressions to our market. Hopefully we will see some of their traditional method bubbly in the near future.

 

About Melissa Pulvermacher

Melissa is a Sommelier, Wine Blogger and founder of The Vino Enthusiasts Wine Club. Melissa is educated through The Wine and Spirit Education Trust and is passionate about all things food and wine.

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