Tasting Wine: Riglos Gran Corte 2009, Wine Enthusiast Wine of the Year 2012

Up until recently, I had a perfect little secret that I shared only with my wine guy and my friend Tina. It involved a wine, a typical red Bordeaux blend, produced, very atypically, high up in the Argentinian mountains by a small-scale producer called Las Divas Vineyards under the advisory of American wine legend, Paul Hobbs. The name of the wine, not that anyone had ever really heard about it, was Riglos Gran Corte and it was a labor of love, dedication and absolute beauty. It was not a cheap wine, but considering the prices demanded for French wines of the same caliber, it was more than worth the $50 price tag. We bought it, we drank it, we loved it and we made sure not to tell too many people about it. We did not want to share the Precious!

Then suddenly, by late 2012, the jig was up! The venerable American Wine Enthusiast Magazine came out with a cover story proclaiming they’d discovered an unknown little Argentinian gem by the name of Riglos Gran Corte. But not only that, they wasted no time in catapulting the recently released 2009 vintage directly to the top of their Wine Enthusiast Top 100 list, declaring Riglos Gran Corte 2009 their number one pick for Win Enthusiast’s Wine of the Year 2012.

Riglos Gran Corte 2009The fabled Riglos Gran Corte 2009… With a side of Henri Boillot 2009 Corton-Charlemagne

Suddenly, our little secret had become one of the most famous and talked about wines in the world, and with only 4,460 bottles in existence that posed a bit of a problem. It didn’t take a rocket surgeon scientist to figure out that prices would rise and demand would skyrocket. Something would have to be done and that something involved getting busy and scoring as many bottles of Riglos 2009 as possible.

So, how does one go about procuring such a rare gem? Well, in my case I was just lucky. I happen to be very good friends with my local wine guy who, in turn, is a good friend of the Danish importer. Before the news spread like a wildfire, I was lucky enough to be forwarded a mail directly from the people at Las Divas Vineyards, breaking the news and setting the wine world ablaze. I quickly put in an order for as many bottles as I could, which turned out to be three. Not much, I know, but considering only 4400 or so bottles were distributed worldwide with less than a hundred making it to Denmark, I like to think I did pretty good.

Know your wine guy! This, coincidentally, is why you don’t buy your wines exclusively online or (God forbid!) at a supermarket. You go find yourself a decent, local wine guy, you listen to his recommendations, tell him your preferences, make a few purchases, get acquainted, ask a few discrete questions and eventually, once you’ve gained his trust, he’ll start hooking you up!

 

What IS it with this wine?

At this point you may well be wondering what all the fuzz is about and what makes this wine so damn special. Well, for starters, the producers are doing it all wrong. They’re taking a traditional Bordeaux blend and producing it in Argentina, of all places, in a high altitude climate. That’s one aspect that’s slightly off, what’s even more off is the fact that they’re making the wine from vines planted in 2002. Yes, that’s right, where as most wineries strive for flavor, intensity and complexity through using grapes from vines as old as possible, these guys are going “Yeah, alright, let’s make from vines so young the French wouldn’t even dare consider using them, and while we’re at it, let’s stick them in first use oak casks for a whopping 22 months. Good things will come from this!”

I’m sure some conservative wine enthusiasts, this writer included, would laugh upon hearing that and tell you something along the lines of “yeah, hah, fat chance that’s going to work!” and had I not tasted the wine before hearing the way things were done in Argentina, I, too, would have laughed. Having tasted it, though, all I can say is that this new bit of knowledge leaves me flabbergasted.

 

Tasting Riglos Gran Corte 2009

2009 Riglos Gran Corte pours a thick, viscous, almost black, deep, dark red that clings remarkably to the sides of the glass when swirled. Clingy legs is almost always a certain sign of high alcohol and at 15% ABV, Riglos Gran Corte fits the bill perfectly.

Grape composition is 70% Malbec, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc. The nose is an almost unbelievable onslaught of fruit that jumps out of the glass and fills the room. Blackcurrant is definitely the dominating element here in an almost overpowering manner with oak and some slight medicinal notes popping up underneath. A little more complexity could be wished for here, but being a lover of fruity wines, who am I to complain?

In the mouth this is an absolute fruit bomb, but not in a bad, jammy, sweet and uncomfortable way. This is layers upon layers of red and dark fruit mainly blackcurrant, plum, cassis interwoven with layers of oak, mild tobacco and a mineral note reminiscent of steel or iron. Despite the 15% alcohol, this is perfectly balanced and soft in the mouth and caresses the tongue in a spicy-fruity but by no means alcoholic manner.

In Conclusion: If I’m to be completely honest, this wine may be a little one-sided, but in this case that’s not a bad thing. Not by a long shot. It remains an astonishing effort and, I don’t mind saying, one of the greatest reds I’ve ever tasted. And I’m an old world kind of guy when it comes to wine! This, surprisingly is way ahead of many (let’s face it) overprized French Bordeaux blends or Red Burgundies selling at twice the price and with the structure and backbone it has to offer, I’m sure it would develop quite well for at least a few years to come. Provided you can hold on to it, which would be difficult as it’s drinking so incredibly well right now.

My obvious recommendation would be to buy this if you can, you probably can’t, but if you can, do it! And if you don’t like it, send it my way! Thank you!

Overall score: 94 / 100

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