Contrary to his restaurant’s name, sommelier Sebastian Koncurat of New York’s new Malbec and Tango House is on a mission to get wine drinkers past Argentina’s most ubiquitous red. The Buenos Aires–born expert created a list that spans the country, from refreshing whites produced in the mountainous northern Salta region to Pinot Noirs made in a remote section of Patagonia, the southernmost point of South America. Here, Koncurat spotlights five excellent, affordable bottles to try.
2011 Amalaya Torrontés-Riesling ($12)
Torrontés is clean-tasting and refreshing, but it’s also intensely aromatic: This one has scents of flowers and orange zest. A bit of Riesling in the blend softens its texture. Koncurat likes to pair this wine with northern Argentinean dishes like spicy empanadas, tamales, and humitas (a tamale-like dish made with fresh corn).
2010 Ricardo Santos Sémillon ($16)
Star winemaker Ricardo Santos was the one of the first winemakers from Argentina to export Malbec to the United States but Koncurat thinks the producer should be recognized for this impressive, unoaked white made from a grape previously used in Argentina for low-quality boxed wines. “It’s one of Argentina’s hidden gems,” he says.
2011 Terrazas de los Andes Altos del Plata Chardonnay ($12)
According to Koncurat, “Chardonnays in Argentina need good acidity to compensate for their sugar and alcohol”—both of which result from the country’s hot climate. Though the Uco Valley region is primarily known as a premium red zone, its high elevation and cool nighttime temperatures are perfect for generating crispness in whites like this stony, citrus- and apricot-scented bottling.
2010 Zuccardi Serie A Bonarda ($15)
Koncurat loves affordable, approachable Bonarda for casual drinking. He calls this bottling, which is sourced from sunny vineyards in the Santa Rosa region of Mendoza, “youthful and funky.”
2011 Bodega Chacra Barda Pinot Noir ($25)
Winemaker Piero Incisa della Rochetta comes from the family that created Sassicaia, one of the first of the iconoclastic Super-Tuscan bottlings. His Pinot Noirs are among the best in Argentina’s Patagonia region, a cool-climate zone that has proved to be very suitable for the grape.
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