Tapiz is one of Argentina's most technologically advanced wineries, and boasts some of Mendoza's finest and highest estate vineyards. International Wine Cellar writer Stephen Tanzer has called their bottlings "Genuinely Excellent Wines."
Patricia Ortiz purchased the Tapiz winery from Jess Jackson (Kendal Jackson) a few years ago. Winemaker Fabian Valenzuela creates a beautiful tapiz (tapestry) between the wine's intense, high-altitude fruit and its oak aging, creating a family of full-bodied wines that beautifully complement food.
The vineyards are at a high elevation, from about 3,000 feet to almost 5,000 feet, and the view across the Uco Valley on one side and the Andes Mountains on the other is awesome. Under the shade of olive trees, we ate fantastic Empanadas cooked in the traditional mud oven Horno del Barro.
Their award-winning and highly reviewed wines all show fresh fruit, and bright, clean acidity, which makes them the ideal food wine. (Retailing at about $12.99.) All their wines were very good and a good complement to the Lamadrid wine we tried the day before. The Lamadrid wines were fruit forward with nicely integrated acidity and great balance; the Tapiz all have a beam of clean and bright acidity surrounded by lush fresh fruit.
All the Tapiz wines were good, but there were a few standouts. You would never guess that the Chardonnay 2010 didn't go through malolactic fermentation because is has such great body and is so lush in the mouth. Fabian tells us that the fermentation was 94 percent in stainless steel tanks, 5 percent in French oak, and 1 percent pure love—and it shows it. This is a show-stopper of a Chardonnay at under $14.
The voluptuous Malbec 2010 is a can't-miss with the classic cherry flavors and chocolate and vanilla in the background. Malbec lovers owe it to themselves to try this!
The Torrontes 2010 is a fuller bodied style. It sees just 4 percent oak during fermentation to give it that lush mouthfeel you don't often get in a Torrontes. A very fruity palate and good acidity lead to a very long finish; great food wine.
Also worthy of more than a passing mention are the Syrah 2010, with its smoky aromas and sweet bright fruit; the Merlot 2009, with its silky smooth tannins; and the Cabernet 2009. The Cabernet will stand up to any Domestic Cabernet costing much more than what you will pay for this gem.
I highly recommend placing special orders for the Seleccion de Barricas 2008, which is a world-class wine. A blend of 40% Malbec, 36% Cabernet, 14% Merlot, and 10% Syrah, it's fermented in stainless steel tanks for 14 days, aged 18 months in new French oak barrels, then18 months in bottle. One member of our group thought you can taste every grape. Stack this (approximately) $40 wine up against any CA or NW[Domestic] blend selling for $70-$80. It's an absolute treat! This is one of the best wines I have ever had! (Place your order now so you don't miss it. It will be available soon.)
Then we're off to the 2010 "Spirit of the Andes" certified organic vineyards and winery, a relatively new project for Patricia and Fabian. We tried their 2010 Malbec and the sparkling Torrontes—what a great idea! The Malbec was great and can stand on its own without the organic stipulation. It's just a great Malbec with all the classic characteristics. If you make your wine decision based on whether or not it's organic, then look no further. You will not find a comparable organic Malbec. You may have to special order it but it's worth the little effort it takes to do so. Yum.
To top off our tour we were given an up-close tour of the vineyards from horseback. What a day!
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