Welcome to the Other World of Wine: Ruta 22 Malbec

pataginiaIf you head south to Buenos Aires, Argentina, and then keep heading south through Pampas grasslands, alongside towering Andes mountains, through forests and beside remote lakes, you’ll finally get to Neuquen, Patagonia. This distant valley is so far away from all the civilized, corporate, congested wine places like Burgundy and Napa Valley that you would think you’re in another world. And you are: that’s what the owners of Ruta 22 call this place. It’s not part of the Old World of wine, although they have French winemakers. And it’s not part of the New World of wine, although they grow intense, fruity New World style wine. It’s truly the Other World of wine.

Patagonia and the Neuquen Valley are a study in extremes. The topography is difficult, and the climate more so. There’s a huge “diurnal temperature shift,” or difference between day and night-time temperatures — like 35 degrees Fahrenheit. This produces structure and acid in the fruit. There’s very little rainfall, which stresses the grapevines and creates more intense aromas and flavors; and almost constant winds that challenge the vines but keep them relatively free of pests so that chemicals aren’t necessary.

Ruta 22 is part of a project owned by Dos Andes wines. These very passionate winemakers set out on a mission to find the absolute best places to produce different varietals, and they operate many vineyards in Chile as well as their Argentine properties.They’ve been succeeding: the Ruta 22 Malbec got a very good 91 point rating from one of the premier wine magazines, and was named a “Best Buy.” That’ll help boost sales…

But let’s critique this thing…  The color is very deep and intense, showing the extraction of these grapes.  The nose really is aromatic: there’s a floral component, but also a “buttery” or oily note I didn’t really like. But that’s all I didn’t like. The palate has a ton of intense berry flavor, and there’s nice grip and weight on the palate. You know you’re drinking a serious wine: this isn’t just “tooty-fruity.” And the rich blackberry and black raspberry flavors are very pleasant indeed.

But wait! It doesn’t cost a lot! The price is really user-friendly, like less than $15 and even cheaper when it’s on sale.

You oughta give this wine a try, and appreciate its exotic locale. This really is the Other World, and it’s a good world. Enjoy!

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