I love wine tastings. Because instead of having two or three glasses of wine, you have six. And it’s considered educational.

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Vinophilia is a group of San Miguel quaffers that gathers occasionally to celebrate the joys of the grape. A few weeks ago I was invited to one of their tastings. I enjoyed myself. A lot.

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Greg Nye and Brenda Sexton were hosting and had arranged with professional sommelier Arael Gomez Tello of Arggot del Vino to take us on a tour through six different wines that Arael distributes to restaurants in and around San Miguel. There was no distinct theme to the tasting, from a standpoint of where in the world the wines came from or the specific grapes used in their production. The only real theme was that Arael considered each of the bottles to be of exceptional value.

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The choices were excellent and, as all of the wines are available directly from Arggot del Vino, I thought it would be good to take you through them and share some of Arael’s comments.

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The first wine in the tasting was a Torrontes from Argentina. Ten years ago, I don’t think I’d even heard of this white wine. Now I seem to be seeing it everywhere. Ruca Malen Yauquen Torrontés comes from grapes grown at high altitudes around Salta in Northwest Argentina, the area that Arael said is “the greatest area of the world to produce wines from this grape”. There were aromas of citrus blossoms and there’s a crispy puckery taste of green apples. Arael went on to say that tartness is one of its main components because of the difference between day and night temperatures which also results in the ripening of a perfectly balanced wine. The Ruca Malen Torrontes is priced at $260 a bottle.

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The next wine, Luis Felipe Edwards Gran Reserva Chardonnay, comes from a selected single vineyard in Valle de Leyda-Casablanca in coastal Chile. Arael Gomez Tello called it a “complex and elegant wine with golden yellow colors, ripe white fruits and peach aromas, with notes of smoke and vanilla.” I love playing the price is right when I’m tasting a new wine and had this at around 400 pesos. My price was very wrong. It’s actually only $260 a bottle.

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I first learned of Mil Campos Viñas Viejas from Ribera del Duero in North Central Spain a few years ago when the world’s most esteemed wine critic, Robert Parker, awarded it 92 points, an almost unheard of score for a wine of this price.

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Sommelier Arael said, “From one the most popular designations of wines from Spain we’ve tasted a modern style wine from old vines. Deep violet color and aromas of black fruits, violets and crushed peppers with forest soil hints. Full of flavor in the palate with perfectly covered medium high tannins.” The Mil Campos is priced at $220 a bottle.

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I am what is called a zinfanatic and I have contributed significantly to the wealth of Bogle Vineyards over the years. Bogle Old Vines Zinfandel comes from Lodi, the very dry and warm area of California south of Sacramento.

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Arael called it “a very decadent wine from 40 year old vineyards”. I like anything and everything decadent. Arael went on to describe it as “Complex in the nose with blackcurrant, crushed pepper and leather aromas. Deep and smooth in the palate, medium tannins, and warm in the palate with a long and flavorful finish”. Thanks to the US$ versus MX$ exchange, Bogle Zin costs a lot more than it used to. But I’m still borderline OK with the price at $380 a bottle.

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You can tell when a sommelier gets excited about a wine. Their voice gets a little higher. They have a second and a third sip as they’re discussing it.

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The wine was Tierra Adentro Trivarietal. It’s a Mexican wine and Mexican sommeliers do have a tendency to overstate their own country’s wine. But I really liked this one. It’s a blend of 50% Syrah, 40% Merlot and 10% Tempranillo that Arael Gomez Tello says is “from the Mexican highlands, probably one of the highest wine regions of the world with 2,200 meters of altitude, a feature that provides the wine with the complexity and aging potential. The wine is rich in color with aromas of red fruits and blackberry.” The wine is priced at $370 a bottle.

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We went back to where we started for the last tasting. Another wine from Ruca Malen in Mendoza, Argentina.

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Bodega Ruca Malen Malbec Reserva is composed of 100% Malbec grapes aged 12 months in oak barrels. Arael Gomez Tallo describes it as showing “red and black fruit reminiscent of dark cherries and violet aromas with organic mineral aromas of wetland and mushrooms, tobacco, vanilla and smoke at the bottom. It is a complex, elegant wine with an edge of acidity that keeps it fresh through the long finish.” Ruca Malen Malbec Reserva is priced at $440 a bottle.

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What I liked about my evening at Vinophilia was, well, everything. There were very good wines with very gracious hosts and an encyclopedia of guests. We ate pot luck dishes in a home that some poor boy from small town Canada once never dreamed he’d ever enter. Wine is so good at knocking down walls, breaking down barriers. Is there any of that Malbec left?

I’m not sure if there’s any space at any of the upcoming Vinophilia events, but if you’d like to attend, email Greg Nye at gnye44@icloud.com. If you would like to order any of the wines served at the last Vinophilia tasting (minimum order is a case) or would like to receive Arggot del Vino’s price list, email Arael Gomez Tello at arggotdelvino@gmail.com.

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