“The best wine is that which tastes good to thine own palate.” Pliny the Elder, Roman Historian
“… but that depends on when you taste it.” ….. James McMillan

I had an opportunity to taste three different varietals of Santa Julia from Mendoza, Argentina, each being made 100% from the named varietal.  The occasion presented itself due to the winery and importer/marketer electing to change the bottles’ labels and the importer/marketer asking if I was interested in a tasting the wines. Looking to acknowledge a younger generation of consumers being more desirous of organically produced wines, Santa Julia chose to prominently feature the wording “Made with Organic Grapes” on the labels of those bottles.  Many vineyards/wineries practice organic viniculture, often because their location provides them an opportunity to do so.  Santa Julia in Mendoza, Argentina is one, though, I admit, not everyone …. not even most do so.  Santa Julia has been certified as an organic winery since 2001.  They produce a selection of entry-label organically produced wines suitable for everyday enjoyment, priced friendly to one’s budget, as well as reserve and other varietals.

The new labels are now featured on all five of Santa Julia Organica wines: Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Tempranillo and a Malbec rose. (The website for Santa Julia also refers to Torrontes, and a Sangiovese/Bonarda blend).   My own impression is that these budget friendly wines, made without intervention of wood, are geared also to today’s consumers who prefers lighter, more casually enjoyed wines (but that’s only my impression).   Aside from the marketing material, or the “read” on today’s consumer (a most difficult undertaking), or focus groups, or the graphic design experts that advise on labeling impact, my concern has always been involved with what’s inside the bottle.

I had concerns.  But they were allayed.

I “get” that their 2018 CHARDONNAY is made without oak.  No oak fermentation.  No oak aging. No staves. Not even chips.  Pure, clean, zesty Chardonnay.  Lots of people prefer it.  Sure, I enjoy both oaked and steel styles, but respect there are people that are entrenched firmly in each camp.  I want some oak with certain seafood and lobster, but if you don’t, why should that bother me?   Besides, French oak costs money. Aging in oak costs money (storage is rent is more expense is more price). Chardonnay aged in steel with no intervention costs less and makes sense for some of today’s consumers, especially those looking for lighter, “cleaner” less influenced wines.  I found it zesty with lime citrus dominant and a crisp finish. Tasting three wines, I vacuum pumped and sealed the bottle for another day’s tasting.  Most impressive?  The wine held up remarkably. The citrus softened on day 2 and 3; became creamier and incorporated some lemon. Would pair well with oysters, but not on the shell.  Better balanced against Oysters Rockefeller with the lime balancing the Pernod.  Want to keep it simple?  This wine would work beautifully against a herb roasted chicken.  Tasters commented also on the wine offering aromas of green apple, pear and pineapple. 
TECHS:  ALC: 14%, TA:  6.0 g/L   RS: 3.50 g/L   

CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2017: (Lighter colored in the glass than what you would expect from a Cab).  Raspberry, cassis, green pepper and plum on the nose.  The red plum and raspberry carry on to the palate joined with notes of cherry.  Other tasters get sweet, candied prune.  With skin maceration for 10 days, and no oak, this (for me) is a light Cab that wine drinkers preferring a lighter-styled, easy drinking red might find appropriate especially in hotter weather and at casual picnics and barbeques.  Heretical, perhaps, but so light, you may want to serve slightly chilled. 
TECHS:  ALC: 13.5%   TA: 5.70 g/L   RS: 4 g/L   Skin Maceration 10 Days   

MALBEC 2017:  Is there a “bad” Malbec from Mendoza – even at $12?  Darker in the glass than the Cab,   this thick-skinned grape offers more body despite it not being oak aged or fermented. Frankly, I didn’t expect much. Frankly, I was surprised.  Opened (twist-off) and poured, it was Malbec.  But what amazed me was how this inexpensive wine held up; actually getting better overnight and even into the day following.  All the fruit softened and rounded and came forward but balanced and pleasingly so. While I would certainly acknowledge that it was drinkable immediately, I have to say I was blown away by how enjoyable it became over the days. And I found it amazing that the wine was not aged in oak – further destroying my pre-conceived view (always a pleasure and a learning opportunity).  Ripe, red plum, raisin, fig, medium bodied and simply very tasty.
TECHS:  ALC: 13.5%   TA: 5.5 g/L    RS:  4.0 g/L   Skin Maceration 10 Days

ETC:  Grapes are from 100% Certified Organic Vineyards in Maipu.  Produced & Bottled by Bodega Santa Julia     Other Vineyards in Valle de Uco and Santa Rosa.

Imported By: Winesellers, Ltd. Niles, IL. (USA)     Bodega Santa Rosa produces also Merlot, Syrah, Tempranillo, Sauvignon Blanc and other wines in both Reserve and non-Reserve labeling and others not identified as organic.  

…………….. Jim

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