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The Weekly Dozen

Two of the more ubiquitous producers of quality Argentine wines available in the U.S. these days are Familia Zuccardi, a third generation winery founded in 1963, and Susana Balbo, the winemaker-entrepreneur who this year is celebrating her 20th anniversary as a producer, although she consulted before that.

Balbo made her reputation as a Salta-region producer of Torrontes, but in recently years she has expanded into red wines as well. Like Zuccardi, now headed by Sebastian Zuccardi, Balbo makes different wines at different price levels under different labels.

Grab your glass and we’ll try a few, beginning with seven from Zuccardi, arranged from least-to-most expensive, then five from Balbo.

2017 Zuccardi “Serie A” Valle de Uco Malbec ($15). An easy drinking red, with cherry flavors, a touch of tanginess, good acidity and mild tannins.

2017 Zuccardi “Q” Valle de Uco Malbec ($20). Dark, brambly berries with some chocolate notes and some pungency – a murky wine for contemplation.

2017 Zuccardi “Poligonos” Valle de Uco Cabernet Franc ($30). Cab Franc often has green herbal notes – think chewing on a cherry stem – to go along with cherry fruit flavors.  In recent years, purists have seen this as a flaw, but I think it’s part of the interesting characteristic of the grape and the wine, and the increasing popularity of Franc show that many people agree.

2017 Zuccardi “Poligonos” Valle de Uco Verdejo ($30). This white wine is not one normally associated with Argentina, but perhaps it should be. This one is an interesting iteration of the grape – green kiwi fruit flavors, moderate body and a hint of creaminess in the finish.

2016 Zuccardi “Tito Zuccardi” Valle de Uco Red Blend ($38). Rounded cherry flavors at the start, but I particularly like its finish – an excellent combination both in texture and taste of oak and tannins.

2016 Zuccardi “Emma Zuccardi” Valle de Uco Bonarda ($42). We wine writers keep waiting for an Argentine Bonarda wave to wash over us, but we’re still waiting. This one is a better food wine than a sipper, I think, with ripe raspberry fruit and a lean, intense finish.

2012 Zuccardi “Aluvional” Altimira Red Wine ($67). An older wine that can be enjoyed for many more years, it has beautiful textures and flavors – dark, concentrated fruit with well-integrated tannins.

2017 Susana Balbo “Signature” Valle de Uco Rosé ($20). Pleasant light berry and creamy flavors, but could use a tad more acidity in the finish.

2016 Susana Balbo “BenMarco” Valle de Uco Cabernet Sauvignon ($20). Increasingly, Argentine winemakers are making affordable Cabs to better compete with their across-the-mountain neighbors. This one has the pleasant, purplish fruit flavors of cherries and raspberries with a nice savory finish.

2016 Susana Balbo “BenMarco” Valle de Uco Malbec ($20). Very nice for the price – light in body, but with rich cherry and raspberry flavors.

2016 Susana Balbo “Signature Brioso” Valle de Uco White Blend ($24). Spicy and a little juicy with very exotic aromas and flavors of green and tropical fruits.

2016 Susana Balbo “BenMarco Espresivo” Valle de Uco Red Blend ($35). Lots of bright, red-berry fruitiness with good balancing oak in the finish.

Prices listed are generally SRP or from

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