2018 Susana Balbo, Brioso Single Vineyard, Agrelo, Mendoza, Argentina
I usually prefer the entry-level red wines from the top Argentinian wineries to their top-of-the-range creations. More often than not the expensive wines are excessively concentrated and raucously over-oaked. Not so the wines from Susana Balbo. I listed her wines back in the Nineties on my Bibendum Restaurant wine list and she was so pleased she paid me a visit. Susana is not obsessed with scale and power in her reds, but with complexity, harmony and length. Try her 2020 Susana Balbo Tradición Malbec (£12, Marks & Spencer) to get you in the mood for my featured wine.
Brioso is the finest Argentinian red I can remember tasting. It is deep, long, controlled and luxurious, and every element of the 43% cabernet sauvignon, 26% malbec, 17% cabernet franc and 14% petit verdot blend resonates with extraordinary class, refinement and balance. It comes from the Dominio vineyard in Agrelo, situated at 980 metres, and this imbues freshness and poise in the fruit. Amazingly, it is aged for 15 months in 100% new French oak barrels, and the oak nuances have melted perfectly into the wine.
In terms of value, there are few wines in the world to touch this epic creation given its grand “Bordeaux” shape and unmistakable harmony. It is also drinking now –further proof that Susana is one of the planet’s most talented winemakers.
Matthew Jukes is a winner of the International Wine & Spirit Competition’s Communicator of the Year (matthewjukes.com)