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Argentine producer unveils ‘new evolution’

Mendoza producer Dominio del Plata is launching an oak-matured Torrontés and “fruit forward” red blend, both of which aim to highlight the broadening of Argentina’s wine repertoire.

Susana Balbo, owner and winemaker of Dominio del Plata
Susana Balbo, owner and winemaker of Dominio del Plata

Showing off her new Torrontés Benmarco 2012, Dominio del Plata’s owner and winemaker Susana Balbo told the drinks business of her mission to prove that the grape variety deserves a more sophisticated reputation.

“It’s an evolution of the variety because we never show a serious wine from Torrontés,” she argued of the new release, which is due to go on sale with an RRP of £16 across the UK’s independent and on-trade sectors later this summer through importer Las Bodegas.

Claiming the title of Argentina’s first female winemaker and featured in db‘s top 50 most powerful women in wine rankings in 2012, Balbo outlined her 33-year history of working with Torrontés and mission to “figure out how to make a wine that really shows more quality and balance.”

She explained how this journey led her to become one of the first winemakers to take inspiration from the Canadian apple juice industry for the enzymes needed to break down Torrontés’ high pectin levels, a move which enabled Balbo to begin fermentation more quickly, thereby avoiding oxidised fruit.

Balbo also pointed to further progress thanks to the addition of casein and bentonite during fermentation, which helped to tackle Torrontés’ similarly high protein levels.

With the new Benmarco Torrontés, which uses fruit grown 1450m up in Altamira, Balbo is aiming to show the additional benefits that oak can bring to this variety.

The end result has spent four months in new French oak barrels, using a blend of four different toasting levels. “There’s still a hint of jasmine and lychees but it adds a complexity without being oaky,” she summed up.

A few weeks ago, Dominio del Plata also unveiled a new red blend, Crios Limited Edition 2012, to the UK market with an RRP of £14.

The new Crios red blend from Dominio del Plata
The new Crios red blend from Dominio del Plata

Based on Malbec and Bonarda with supporting roles from Tannat and Syrah, the wine is the first produced for the estate by Balbo’s 28-year-old winemaker son and UC Davis graduate José Lovaglio

“He likes less oak and fruit forward wines,” explained Balbo of her son’s approach to this new wine, which uses mostly grapes from the northerly but high altitude region of Cafayate and features a label designed by her daughter, Ana.

In keeping with the younger generation behind this wine, Balbo highlighted its forward-looking representation of Argentina’s strengths. “Crios is to show people that the new trend in wine is not single varieties but blending to show complexity and elegance,” she maintained.

Above all, Balbo stressed her focus on adapting Dominio del Plata’s offer to meet consumer demand. With “99%” of that customer base located abroad, the company she founded 13 years ago is currently Argentina’s 10th largest wine exporter, producing around 250,000 cases a year.

“We are here to please consumers, to make the wines that people like,” she emphasised. “It’s something that pushes you to evolve and this is a new evolution.”

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