2011 Alta Vista Premium Torrontes ($16). These grapes come from the cool Cafayette region, and take on pretty aromas of lily of the valley and honeysuckle here, with flavors of ginger, grapefruit, and lemon zest that float along the silky, creamy texture and minerally finish.
2010 Alta Vista Premium Malbec ($16). This wine surprised me, because once I got past the very satisfying start of blackberries, plums, licorice, baking spice, and cedar, this wine had an unexpected, delicate finish of roses and violets that was a real head-turner.
Catena Zapata, a 110-year old family-owned winery just south of Mendoza City. There is a wonderful balance of their wines, from their moderate-priced Catena line to the splurge-worthy Catena Alta bottlings. Today, they have about 1,500 acres planted with that Malbec, along with Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, spanning from about 500 feet above sea level to nose-bleed vineyards nearly 6,000 feet up.
2008 Catena Alta Malbec ($55). To be filed under “Worth the Splurge”: The nose is all aromas of violets and sweet herbs, that opens up in your mouth to juicy, ripe Italian plums and dark chocolate, that morphs into a slightly tart, espresso-bean finish.
2010 Catana Zapata Malbec ($15). Fresh and lively notes of soft, fleshy black plum and black cherry fill your mouth and leave you with a nice bit of cinnamon and black pepper spice on the finish.
Right now, Renacer only producers five wines in their 1.2 million bottle-a-year operation because, as Pato (which means “duck” in Spanish – and you will find many happily swimming in the on-premises pond at this modern stone tasting room) says, “We’re interested in quality, not quantity.” Taste for yourself (and say hi to the ducks) at their Lujan du Cuyo tasting room, which is open to the public daily, or you can reserve a special tasting in their Barrique Room and, if you're a large enough group, possibly work out a special al fresco lunch on the pretty grounds.
Mendoza wines not only offer high quality for affordable prices, the regional varieties are stunningly complex. Best of all, if you can't make the trek to Argentina, you can easily find most of Mendoza's best wines in America because the region imports some 85 percent of its wines to the U.S.