It isn’t often that I come across a winery that creates wines that are a screaming value, but also delicious, and also actually cares about farming practices and winery employees. For that reason, this Halloween treat is one that you should investigate yourselves!
I’m happy to say, at a recent dinner, I was able to explore the wines, and values of one such winery in Mendoza, Argentina – Santa Julia. Santa Julia is one label a party of the much larger Familia Zuccardi operation, one of the largest family owned operations in Argentina. For over over 40 years, the family has produced wines here. The Santa Julia wines are handcrafted from estate fruit, and the quality shows.
This time, I was able to taste a wide variety of the Santa Julia line, from Chardonnay (someone what unexpected) to Malbec, the traditionally Argentinian signature wine. Several of the wines were Santa Julia [+] wines, a new label that seeks to spotlight the family’s quest for environmentally sustainable wines, as well as a value wine of distinction. The four pillars of sustainability for Stan Julia are based on people, the vineyards, wise energy use, and respect for teh environment.
The commitment to sustainability stands out to me, as I know the challenges winery owners in this state face, trying to employee vineyard workers, and still make a profit. Satna Juila and the Zuccardi family has resolved this issue but adding agriculture to their line of business, which allow them to employ workers year round; not to mention produce olive oil and peaches to boot! They also offer housing, eduction, health care and training, ensureing that employees are taken care of, and committed to the family company.
And now tot he wines! The first thing that struck me was the value. No wine was priced over $13, but you would not know it by the quality. Santa Julia wines are made to be fresh, and young, and offer refreshingly and easy drinking wines.
Starting with the Brut Rose, made of 100% pinot noir, this refreshing sparkling wine is a fantastically affordable alternative to domestic and other sparkling wines. It is fresh, with a hint of strawberries and melon that dance on your tongue. MUST BUY
The 2011 Chardonnay Organica (remember they are on the opposite harvest schedule so this was made from grapes harvested this spring) is fresh and lively. With no oak, it screams Meyer lemon and citrus and was beautifully tropical without being overly done. This is a great summer sipping wine, and for someone like me, that rarely enjoys chard unless it’s called white burgundy, this was a MUST BUY.
Ahh Torrontes! I adore Torrontes. The flagship white wine of Argentina, it is a great alternative to Chard or Sav Blanc and offers some nice body. The 2011 Santa Julia [+] Torrontes has fresh honeysuckle and floral notes, a with stone fruit and citrus flavors. A great white! For $10, you have no excuse for not seeking this out.
My favorite red of the evening was the [+] Malbec. I love a good malbec! It’s tricky to make this dense and chewy red wine right, but the 2101 hit the spot with my beef rib. A blend of grapes from several vineyard sources, it had rich ripe black berry and cherry, covered in a dusting of cracked peppercorn and bittersweet chocolate. A hint of coffee was lingering on the finish. This full bodied but not big wine is perfect for a hamburger or steak. Again, at $10, go out and find this!
Finishing up with an Argentinian Neopolitan – dulce de leche between layers of puff pastry (which, had I not been stuffed, I would have asked for thirds of) we had a late harvest Torrontes that was turely amazing. 85% Torrontes and 15% Viognier, it is not a syrupy thick dessert wine, but rather a fresh and light wine with intenser stone fruit flavors and richness. This is the perfect Thanksgiving Dessert wine, and you can’t go wrong at $13.
All in all, Santa Julia is a great value, with great values. They are nationally distributed and can be found in your favorite local wine shop (or search online). You can’t beat the price, and I hope you’ll find out for yourself!