Thursday, January 20, 2011
Here’s a bit of information on the history of Finca Flichman: The winery was founded in 1873 by Jewish immigrant Don Sami Flichman, a native of Lodz, Poland. After arriving in Buenos Aires he made his way to Mendoza during the area’s first wine rush. He invested in a winery and a market which has since been converted to the Harrod’s of Mendoza. He also purchased a piece of property in Barrancas (southern Maipú) and planted vines in these ravines along the Mendoza river. The farmhouse that still stands on the property was first built by Don Sami behind protective walls to ward off attacks by the Huarpe tribe native to the Mendoza area.
In 1998 The estate was acquired by the Sogrape group. Sogrape’s $7 million capital infusion, extensive winemaking experience, and international presence were all great boons that helped Finca Flichman focus on more terroir-driven wines made for export. Winemaker Luís Cabral de Almeida, Portuguese by birth, has made wines with the Sogrape group for decades and has lent his expertise to the Flichman wines for over 10 years. The Flichman wines are now available worldwide (even in Lodz!) and viewed quite favorably.
The grapes for Finca Flichman’s wines come from Barrancas and Tupungato. The grounds in Barrancas (Spanish for “ravines”) are littered with the kaleidoscopic array of colored rocks that wash down from the Andes via the Mendoza River; the Tupungato soils are similarly stony, with sandy alluvium mixed among the rocks.
Large temperature variations typical of the desert climate in both regions help the grapes ripen and achieve the potential for elegance and structure. At about 700 meters altitude, the Barrancas grapes get loads of sunlight and offer jammy fruit, rich earth, and deep color. Tupungato, sitting at 1100 meters, contributes more structure, elegance, and a touch of floral aromas. Finca Flichman’s extensive line of wines shows each region beautifully, both individually and in blends.
All of Finca Flichman’s vines are ungrafted. This makes propagation easy, only requiring a shoot from a neighboring vine as shown in the picture above. Traditional flood channels irrigate parral-style trellising used alongside VSP trellising in the vineyards, and all vines are of course covered by sturdy netting to protect against the dreaded Mendoza hail (click here for more information). There is no threat of phylloxera, little worry about mildew or fungus, and very few natural pests to fear here. Varietals grown include Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Malbec, Merlot, and Chardonnay, and the estate even produces a delicious sparkling wine.
Here are the wines we tasted with Luís:
Extra Brut Chardonnay/Malbec
This assemblage of 80% Chardonnay, 20% Merlot is created via the Charmat method. Fresh and fruity, but with some yeastiness and an earthy structure, this makes a great aperitif. Though I did not take a bottle with me upon leaving the estate, I did enjoy its refreshing apply character enough to end up buying 3 or 4 bottles throughout my stay in Mendoza.
2010 Malbec Roble
This wine sees a little time in oak, leading to a vanilla spiciness that is atypical of the average young Malbec. Dark fruit and a little violet peer through the oak but are pretty much overpowered. I think this one would be much better off paired with empanadas or a steak.
2009 Misterio Malbec
4 months with oak staves give this wine its slight oaky spice. Lots of chocolate, plums, ripe cherries, and violets. The Misterio finishes off with chocolate covered cherry elegance. This was one of our favorites.
2009 Malbec Reserva
This is a nice example of an Argentine Malbec. Bright red cherry fruit is framed with soft tannins and highlighted with a touch of violet. An excellent food wine.
2009 Gestos Malbec
Made with 50% Malbec from Tupungato and 50% Malbec from Barrancas, this blend gets the ripe plum fruit and rich deep color from one and the structured floral character from the other. 6 months in new oak balance it all out. We took a bottle of this one for sure.
2007 Expresiones Reserva Malbec/Cabernet
Cherries, chocolate, and spice. Very full and heavy mouthfeel. The Cabernet lends a tannic structure that lingers on the finish. This one definitely should not be paired with anything of less substance than a thick juicy steak.
2007 Expresiones Reserva Shiraz/Cabernet
The Syrah character shines through here, with aromas of blackberry and white pepper dominating the blend. There is a hint of wet forest floor and tobacco leaf. The rich fruit is tempered by strong but soft tannins. I actually enjoyed this more than the Malbec blend.
2007 Paisaje de Tupungato
The Paisaje wines are Finca Flichman’s terroir line. Each is carefully crafted to achieve the winemaker’s interpretation of the two regions. Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, and Merlot make up the Tupungato blend. Aged for 12 months in mostly French oak. Roasted coffee spices up the plum and blackcurrant fruit, with a slight touch of chalky and sanguine minerality. An exceptionally long finish. This is a big wine.
2007 Paisaje de Barrancas
My favorite of the day! I had to take some home. Old vine Shiraz (40+ years), Malbec, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Blackberries and violets dominate, with a bit of menthol hiding beneath. The full body and soft but powerful tannins won me over instantly.
The Dedicado is a blend of Malbec, Cabernet, and Shiraz made only in the best years. It is aged 12 months in new French oak, followed by 12 more in the bottle. The 2006 is an explosion of berry fruit, smoke, and cedary spice aromas. The palate is meaty and intense, with smooth silky tannins. This is a special wine for a special occasion.
For more information, visit Finca Flichman’s website or send an email.
Posted by Sarah T