Argentina Beyond Malbec: A Duo from Susana Balbo Wines

I was offered sample bottles from Susana Balbo Wines in Argentina and while perusing the list a couple caught my eye. One thing I don’t want to see happen to the country as far as its wines is for it to be pegged as full of Malbec, more Malbec, and nothing but Malbec.

Don’t get me wrong. Malbec from Argentina is some of the best bang-for-the-buck red wine out there. But just as Australia cannot be defined by Shiraz alone, this South American country can spread its wine wings and fly.

So let’s look at a couple slightly heavy (not a fan of weighty packaging) but lovely bottles.

Susana Balbo Wines: Beyond Malbec Category

2017 Susana Balbo Signature Brioso White Blend Valle de Uco ($24)


Wow, this is one of the most impressive white wines I’ve had from Argentina. The Brioso is a blend of 45% Semillón, 30% Torrontés, and 25% Sauvignon Blanc. Reminds me a lot of a white Bordeaux, but that floral Torrontés moves it into a more pleasantly perfumed category. Has a definite pear-ness on the finish. A perfect medium-bodied wine.

And, yes, Brioso has some oak to it. (Praise.) Four months total time in wood. Of the barrels, 60% are new and 40% are seeing their second use. The former gives you some pleasant oak notes, the latter a more mellow, textural impact.

2018 Susana Balbo Signature Rosé Valle de Uco ($20)

Argentina Beyond Malbec: A Duo from Susana Balbo Wines

Ok, I sorta lied-ish with the title of my post. This rosé is a blend of 60% Malbec and 40% Pinot Noir. A most unusual mix! Though I found the Pinot Noir to really come through, surprisingly not dominated by Malbec. I’d probably call this a PN rosé if someone made me guess the grape(s) blind. It also shows that Malbec doesn’t have to be an inky-coating blob monster red. It can play a large, yet elegant, role in a rosé.

So the next time you are perusing a wine list or at a retail shop and the Argentina section is all Malbec, make these two points:

  1. Yay for promoting wines from Argentina!
  2. BOO for only having Malbec! (A respectful, lowercase “boo.”)

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The State of Malbec in Argentina With José Lovaglio of Dominio del Plata: Podcast

The State of Malbec in Argentina With José Lovaglio of Dominio del Plata: PodcastI happily braved an unusually intense Seattle downpour to chat with Winemaker José Lovaglio of Dominio del Plata. He’s the latest guest on my Wine Without Worry podcast. [SUBSCRIBE] I was curious about what was happening in Argentina concerning Malbec. These wines came on the scene with an unbeatable one-two punch of flavor and value. And had the glow of the new. (Or at least to me and many other people).

So after that initial buzz, what’s the deal with Malbec from Argentina today? Lovaglio discusses its diversity within and outside of Mendoza, the most well-known region for the country’s signature red wine grape.

And speaking of signature grapes, we also chat about Torrontés, a light and lively white wine with serious floral aromatics. But sometimes you can get too much of a good thing in the nose department. How does a winemaker prevent Torrontés from smelling like a potpourri-filled glass? Or resembling the “good” soap, for ornamental purposes only. The kind that if you ever actually lathered up your hands with, you’d get yelled at. Also, what does a barrel-aged Torrontés taste like? Why give oak to such a fresh, easy-drinking white wine?

Wines Tasted:

  • 2014 Susana Balbo Crios Torrontés
  • 2013 Susana Balbo Barrel Fermented Torrontés
  • 2014 Susana Balbo Crios Malbec
  • 2012 Susana Balbo Malbec

(BTW, Lovaglio is Susana Balbo’s son.)

Finally, I begged (ok, just asked) Lovaglio to reveal what grapes he thought were rising stars in the world of Argentinian wine. And you can hear my surprise at his first answer. Check out the show:

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