A Rising Competitor: Premium Argentinian Cabernet Sauvignon
Andrés is the fourth generation of a family of viticulturists and winemakers from eastern Mendoza.
Andrés Vignoni is 30 years old. He has been working for four years in Viña Cobos, the winery founded by Paul Hobbs, where Andrés is currently Chief Winemaker. His first harvest was at 17 years old. In spite of his youth, he accumulates several experiences of harvests in the USA, New Zealand, Mendoza and France.
He is a very good communicator, simple and clear. We interviewed him about the characteristics of the Cabernet Sauvignon in Argentina and its potential at a local and global level.
Paul Hobbs believes that, after Bordeaux and Napa, Argentina can offer the world high-quality Cabernet Sauvignon (CS) wines.
– Which is its potential?
– This grape has a very huge potential. From the ’90s, after the great varietal reconversion of Argentina towards Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, which was one of the most consumed vines, was left a bit behind. However, a revival has been going on for 15-20 years. This grape has a very good production in Mendoza and Salta. The deep, loose, sandy soils, with a good presence of stone, are ideal. Our warm climate and good thermal amplitude allow an optimal maturation. Therefore a good polyphenolic concentration and thus mature wines are obtained without so much pyrazine and green note.
– Which are the most suitable regions to develop the CS?
– It is a varietal planted in almost all Argentina. It is more difficult to ripen in cold climates because it is a long cycle variety. For example, in Patagonia or in the higher parts of Mendoza. The best areas are Lujan de Cuyo, in Mendoza, especially in Perdriel, Agrelo, Lunlunta, and Vistalba. Another region is the Uco Valley, specifically, the lower part of Gualtallary, La Consulta, Chacayes and El Cepillo. In northern Argentina, the Cafayate region stands out. There the profile is really very different, in terms of spices, concentration, and tannins.
– Which path should we take to make great Cabernet Sauvignon?
– The great challenge for Cabernet Sauvignon from Argentina is to learn how to deal with it in the vineyard. It has to mature without losing freshness. We have to understand that excessive defoliation is not good because the fruit is overripe or that much foliage is not positive either. Irrigation is also very important.
– Does our high-end Cabernet Sauvignon have its own identity?
– We should emphasize the tannin grain of the Argentine high-end Cabernet Sauvignon because it is present but fine. They are granular tannins, but very elegant, from which we obtain CS quite concentrated. We can now achieve wines that are not reduced only to pyrazine, the herbal part, and spices such as red pepper, green pepper or freshly cut grass, but also obtain black fruit, licorice notes, blond tobacco, white pepper, which provide a lot of complexity and elegance.
– Is it easy to sell Argentine Cabernet Sauvignon abroad?
– Not easy, but results are surprisingly positive, especially in countries like the USA because they are big producers. We have some competitive advantages. The sensory profiles are different. Our CS comes from a continental climate, without ocean influence, and very balanced. It is not super concentrated as one of Napa and not as fresh and linear as those of Bordeaux.
On the other hand, the cost-benefit ratio of Argentine CS is very interesting. A $ 40 wine can quietly compete in quality with a $ 70 wine. When it comes to CS over $ 100, it’s a little harder. It is very important to offer quality and elegance.
Viña Cobos produces high-end CS since its birth. Undoubtedly, there is a place in the world for high-end Cabernet Sauvignon from Argentina. That is why it is important to compare them with the most famous. and communicate them so that the consumer can understand that it is a different wine.
– What does this grape represent in the Cobos portfolio?
– After Malbec, it’s the variety that we produce the most. The great goal of Viña Cobos is to be a world-class winery. Producing a high-quality Cabernet Sauvignon position us as serious competitors worldwide, both as a winery and as a producer country, because it demonstrates the seriousness and versatility of our terroir. It is an excellent way to measure yourself internationally with large wineries. Not to mention what Paul Hobbs and his Cabernet Sauvignon in California mean. In some way, we are also forced to make a great Cabernet, here, at home.
Viña Cobos is a pioneer and reference in terms of this grape that is present in all brands, from Felino, Cocodrilo, a blend based on CS, Bramare Appellation Luján de Cuyo, Bramare Marchiori CS, to its top of the range, Cobos Volturno.
Between 20 and 25% of the grape that enters the winery is CS. Today the retail price of Cobos Volturno exceeds $ 250.