Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Tasting Don Manuel Villafane Wines from Argentina with Wine Maker Frederico Isgro, USA

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller and Frederico Isgrò, winemaker of Don Manuel Villafañe in Mendoza in Argentina, at screwtop wine bar in Arlington, Virginia, USA

It was great fun to meet Frederico Isgrò, winemaker of Don Manuel Villafañe in Mendoza in Argentina, at screwtop wine bar in Arlington, Virginia, US. We sat around a communal table and tasted 5 Don Manuel Villafañe wines. Charcutterie and cheese with bread was also served. Price: US 19.

Winery Don Manuel Villafañe is joint venture between Sr. Tomás Machado Villafañe and his family (3o%), and a group of Washington DC and Virginia based investors (70%). The winery is in Mendoza, Argentina.

Wine Producer Argentina

Argentina has always been a giant wine producer. But historically, Argentine winemakers were more interested in quantity than quality with the country consuming 90% of the wine it produced. For most of the 1900s, Argentina produced more wine than any other country outside Europe, with the vast majority being consumed domestically. Argentine wines started being exported during the 1990s. it is now the second biggest wine exporter in Latin America, following Chile. The devaluation of the Argentine peso in 2002, following the economic collapse, further fueled the wine industry.

Picture: The Wine Regions of Argentina

Argentina is the 5th largest producer of wine in the world, following Spain, France, Italy and the US. Like much of the new world, Argentina owes its first vineyards to the Catholic Church. As early as 1556, missionary priests crossed the Andes from the Spanish colony in what is now Chile, to Argentina. The wine industry grew rapidly, as the Spanish and Italian immigrants brought with them the habit of having a bottle of wine with every meal. In the 1920s, Argentina was the 8th richest nation in the world. Domestic wine consumption was as high as 90 liters per person. Yet it is only very recently - perhaps over the last ten or fifteen years - that the wine industry has really begun to develop the methods, attitudes and will to become a serious player in the international wine market.

Pictures: Frederico Isgrò, winemaker of Don Manuel Villafañe in Mendoza in Argentina

The Andes Mountains are the dominant geographical feature of Argentine wine regions, with the snow cap mountains often serving as a back drop view in the vineyards. Most of the wine regions are located within the foothills of the Andes. The most important wine regions of the country are located in the provinces of Mendoza and San Juan and La Rioja. Salta, Catamarca, Río Negro and more recently Southern Buenos Aires are also wine producing regions. The Mendoza province produces more than 60% of the Argentine wine and is the source of an even higher percentage of the total exports.

There are many different varieties of grapes cultivated in Argentina, reflecting her many immigrant groups. The French brought Malbec, which makes most of Argentina's best known wines. The backbone of the early Argentine wine industry were the high yielding, pink skin grapes Cereza, Criolla Chica and Criolla Grande which still account for nearly 30% of all vines planted in Argentina today.


Mendoza is the leading producer of wine in Argentina. The vineyard acreage in Mendoza alone is slightly less than half of the entire planted acreage in the US and more than the acreage of New Zealand and Australia combined. Located in the shadow of Mount Aconcagua, the average vineyards in Mendoza are planted at altitudes of 1,970-3,610 feet (600-1,100 meters) above sea level. The soil of the region is sandy and alluvial on top of clay substructures and the climate is continental with four distinct seasons that affect the grapevine, including winter dormancy.

The Villafañe Family

The Villafañe family has been in the wine business for almost 400 years. In 1611 Don Manuel Villafañe came to Argentina from Spain as a soldier to fight against the English pirates who attacked Spanish ships. Later he settled in South America as a farmer, and became a pioneer of winemaking in Argentina for being one of the first people to plant vines on that land. The objective at that time was to provide wine for the priests of the church and much later for the settlers, who came to the 'New Word' to take advantage of the new opportunities.

Pictures: Frederico Isgrò, winemaker of Don Manuel Villafañe in Mendoza in Argentina

While overall, most of the wine produced in Argentina stays in the country and is consumed there, Don Manuel Villafane is very export-oriented, with 90% of the production being exported. 2/3 of it go to the US and 1/3 to China.

Current production is 500.000 bottles. "The wine is almost organic, because it is very dry in Mendoza and we do not need any pesticides" said Frederico.

Federico J. Isgró

Federico J. Isgró is Don Manuel Villafañe's winemaker with over 10 years experience in viticulture and olive orchard management in Argentina, Italy and Chile. He is a very pleasant guy and knows what he is talking about. It was a very entertaining tasting.

His educational background includes: a Master of Enology and Viticulture degree from Università degli Studi di Siena. Montalcino, Tuscany, Italy; Certified Agronomist, F.C.A., from the Universidad Nacional de Cuyo. Mendoza. Argentina; and Certified Winemaker, L.A.E., also from Universidad Nacional de Cuyo. Mendoza. Argentina.

This was Frederico's first visit to Washington DC. Welcome Frederico!

The Wines Frederico Poured

Picture: The Wines Frederico Poured


"The wine did not see any oak. It is an easy-drinking wine" Frederico said.

On the nose, this pretty Chardonnay has aromas of baked apple and tropical fruits. The first sip reveals ample fruit on entry, with the tropical notes balancing out nicely. On the palate it is clean, with nice texture from the lees, a touch of stony minerality, and a clean finish balancing the fruit and crispness.

US$ 15.99


This dense red colored wine gives a full and rich fruit nose of spicy plum, wild berries, and cassis. The mouth is lush and full, with plenty of spice and dark fruit: plum, blackberry, and cassis leading to a very well balanced and long finish. Beautifully balanced, with a very pleasant, fruity entry, this wine has much complexity and balance to recommend it.

Pictures: Frederico Isgrò, winemaker of Don Manuel Villafañe in Mendoza in Argentina

US$ 15.99


The wine was 8 months in French oak, half new oak and half second year oak.

Dark ruby red in color with an intense nose of rich cassis berries, vanilla, and pepper. On the entry it is very open, full bodied yet soft and rich, with more blackberry and chocolate flavors in the mouth. The finish is long and elegant with balanced sweet tannins.

US$ 19.99


It displays purple hints of very good intensity. It is a delicious wine with a wonderful palate. Its aromas are a mix of plums, morello cherry, truffle and, as time goes by, chocolate, coffee and vanilla. Beautiful balance between fruit, spice, and tannins.

US$ 19.99


Only 5000 bottles are produced. Was aged for 18 months in oak. The grapes come from a very old vineyard (90 years).

Dense red color gives a full and rich fruit nose of wild berries and black currant. The mouth is lush and full leading to a very well balanced and long finish.

US$ 41.99

Schiller Wine - Related Postings

The Wines of Argentina's Cult Winemaker Achaval-Ferrer

World Malbec Day - Malbec from its Birthplace: Cahors in France

Julia Zuccardi from Familia Zuccardi in Argentina Visited the US to Introduce New Santa Julia Wines

The Wines of Chateau La Caminade in the Cahors, France - Malbec from its Birthplace

In the Glass: 3 Malbecs from Santa Julia, Argentina - Santa Julia [+], Organica and Reserva

No comments:

Post a Comment