PICK of the RACK: Dominio del Plata | BenMarco | Expresivo | Red Blend | Mendoza | Argentina | 2010 | $20 | 91 pts

BenMarcoAromas: boysenberry; dried herbs; black tea; iron
Character: dry; full-bodied & rich; dried fruit & earth driven; zesty acids; mild tannins; subtle oak; 14.5% ABV
Flavors: dried blueberry; roasted coffee beans; cola; bittersweet chocolate; hints of eucalyptus
Food Pairing: versatile: medium to sharp cheeses; roasted pork; grilled steak and vegetables; seared duck; other savory dishes

Trail blazing winemaker Susana Balbo was among the first female enologists in the history of Argentine winemaking.  After working for years as a consultant to other wineries around the world, in 1999 she founded her own winery — Dominio del Plata — in her native Mendoza Valley of far western Argentina.  The winery and estate vineyards are situated at an elevation of over 3,000 feet, under the gaze of the snow-capped High Andes, and enjoy growing conditions distinguished by sandy alluvial soils, intense sunlight, cooling alpine winds, and pure mountain snowmelt.  Susana and her team, which include son José and daughter Ana, craft an impressive array of wines that include the value segmented “Crios” label; the mid-line BenMarco label;  Susana’s premium namesake “signature” label; and the winery’s flagship “Nosotros” Malbec.

“Dominio del Plata’s 2010 BenMarco Expresivo offers remarkable quality at a modest price”

The BenMarco line is available in Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec bottlings as well as the “Expresivo” red blend.  We recently tasted the 2010 Expresivo and were astonished by the quality and satisfaction it delivers for a $20 price tag.  The wine was fashioned from Malbec (50%), Cabernet Sauvignon (20%), Syrah (10%), Petit Verdot (10%), and Tannat (10%), which were separately fermented then blended and aged for 14 months in French (70%) and American (30%) oak.  The result is a dark-chocolaty, dried fruit and earth-driven wine offering aromas of boysenberry, herbs, black tea, and iron followed by flavors of dried blueberry, roasted coffee beans, cola, and bittersweet chocolate ganache.  Notions of eucalyptus are interwoven throughout, and there’s a dusting of cocoa powder on the finish.  Zesty acids reflect high-elevation viticulture; the oak is subtly integrated – thankfully not overwrought; and tannins are mild.  It’s a rich, approachable, and versatile red that will pair well with medium to sharp cheeses, roasted pork, grilled steak and vegetables, seared duck, and other savory dishes.

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Dominio del Plata, Mendoza, Argentina

Availability:  Dominio del Plata markets its wines internationally, so their wines are  reasonably easy to find through both retail an online wine merchants.  We purchased the 2010 Expresivo at Total Wine in Alexandria, Virginia, and it is generally available in Total Wine stores nationwide.  For more information on Susana Balbo and Dominio del Plata, visit the winery virtually at www.dominiodelplata.com.ar/.   It you would like to view the winery’s spec sheet on the 2010 Expresivo, click here (it may take a minute or two to load): http://www.dominiodelplata.com.ar/wp-content/themes/ddpTheme/downloads/fichas/esp/benmarco/benmarco-Expresivo-2010.pdf.

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