“A man who develops himself is born twice.” Argentine saying.
Argentina is a land of many dichotomies. It is the land of the GAUCHO, the country where Latin music and one of the world’s most popular dances, the TANGO, were introduced. A country where a steak is almost revered and more red meat is eaten per capita than anywhere else in the world. A country whose name is derived from the Latin word for “silver.” It is also a country which had 5 rulers in 10 days back in 2001. And now, it is a producer of fine, world class wines.
The Santa Julia Winery located in Mendoza, Argentina is a true family operation. Around 1950, Alberto Zuccardi arrived from Italy and began experimenting with irrigation systems in the area as water was very scarce and very valuable. It wasn’t until 1963 when he planted a vineyard, sort of as a showcase for farmers in the area as a method of growing and irrigating crops. That was when Alberto discovered his passion and together with his wife, Emma, began a South American institution which still thrives today. In 1976, their son Jose, joined the company and steered it toward its present course, the production of a superior grape which in turn would produce superior wines. He named these fine wines after his only daughter, Julia.
Santa Julia Pinot Grigio is one one of the fine products produced by the Zuccardi family. A wonderful Cabernet, Malbec, Chardonnay and now a foray into olive oil production has set this family name in very high esteem in the region. Producing fine products was the goal of Alberto and his vision has been shared by his family. They have instituted modern methods of production with a strong eye on tradition and a commitment to quality, all done as Alberto would have liked. This commitment and passion have motivated the family and made this one of the largest wineries in the country.
The Pinot Grigio, which I have sampled is a true Pinot, the “real thing,” so to speak. That is, it is light, with an emphasis on a citrusy taste. Essences of pear, mango and pineapple make this a very nice wine to enjoy while sitting poolside or on a patio under an umbrella. If your tastes go away from mixed drinks, as do mine, this is a perfect substitute. With a light gold color with the slightest hints of green it just says refreshing. In fact, in the sun the bottle will produce a lovely rainbow effect which just may make you hesitate before moving the bottle. I did not decant this wine, but I did let it rest for a few minutes before pouring and this gave me kind of an idea of what I was in for. The aroma is distinct, yet delicate, as a Pinot Grigio should be.
Now, I am not an expert on South American wine. In fact I am not an expert on any wine from anywhere in the world. But I do know a wine that has taste, that has body and that can please. This wine delivers on all fronts. I would pair it with shellfish or vegetarian dishes and light, mild cheeses. It would also be an excellent choice for a turkey or roasted pheasant as it would complement each nicely. It is also perfect as an aperitif, kind of an opening salvo to a Friday night dinner with friends where you want the wine to make a grand entrance, but be subtle at the same time.
At $12-$15 per bottle I would say this wine is an excellent value and an equally good change of pace from an American or European wine, simply due to its land of origin. While Argentina is widely known for its production and consumption of beef, this wine stands out as a beacon of freshness, a symbol of light and air. From bottle to glass, this wine is a very good choice.