​Revancha, Peon Malbec 2012 Mendoza


From £15.99, $18.99, 190 Argentine pesos, CA$34.01, 104.90 Brazilian réal 

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Revancha, meaning ‘replay’ (not ‘revenge’, as you might think), is a new project by Mendel winemaker Roberto de la Mota and his business partner Anabelle Sielecki in Mendoza, Argentina. Roberto, who survived a serious car crash in 2007, explains the name: ‘Life has given me a beautiful second chance – Revancha. I celebrate this new opportunity making this wine together with my son Rodrigo.’ Rodrigo is now a 19-year-old agronomy student, though I think he looks very youthful in this picture taken last year. The technical sheets for the wines are headed with the following mission statement, and anyone who has had the good fortune to meet, or even correspond with, Roberto de la Mota will know that behind these words is not a trace of self-consciousness or hubris.

When life beats us, losers lose,
Optimists learn and analyse, decide to play
A rematch with a new strategy,
Searching for new horizons because we’re inspired by challenge
And the passion for starting over, this great wine
Grown on the best pieces of Mendoza land,
Invites us to discover a new way to see life.

Father and son – and Roberto is the son of pioneering Argentine winemaker Raul de la Mota – first made a wine together in 2009 and were encouraged to pursue the project by a friend who tasted the wine after it had spent a year in bottle and who suggested the name Revancha. I tasted that first 2009 vintage (it was a Cabernet/Malbec blend, what is now Revancha La Gran) two years ago and am extremely impressed by the progress they have made since then – so much so that I have chosen the ‘pawn’ (peon), the least expensive and most accessible of the three wines currently in the Revancha range, as my wine of the week. 

The striking label images are based on chess pieces – pawn (Peon), rook (La Primera) and king (La Gran). The words that make up the shape of the pawn below are, roughly translated, 'With a strong heart, the warrior pawn gives his life for the king’s stability. This battle-hardened and assured wine, youthful in spirit and mentality, is charged with expressive, varietal character.’

Here’s my tasting note on the Revancha, Peon Malbec 2012 Mendoza (referred to on some websites as simply Revancha Malbec): Blackish crimson with elderberry-coloured rim. Black core. Restrained, subtle aromas of dark fruit and an attractive dusty quality – extremely delicate fragrance with the lightest floral and spice notes. Seductively deep and fine-grained, smooth, cool tannins. Caressing without smothering, fluid across the palate. Incredibly refined texture and just a hint of juicy freshness on the finish. The oak – 12 months in French oak but only one-third new – is barely noticeable thanks to the stunning fruit quality. Finishes beautifully dry. Fabulous purity.

I scored it 17 out of 20 and thought it was excellent value for money, with the potential to age well for another 4-5 years although it is already delicious. I made no comment about the 14.3% alcohol because it was unremarkable – ie in balance with the flavour and structure. 

That stunning fruit quality is attributable to the source of the fruit and the finger-tip finesse of the winemaking (manual harvest and pigeage, fermentation is 80-hl tanks, minimum pressing pressure, light filtration). The grapes come from some of Mendoza's best sites: the Drummond and Perdriel subregions of Luján de Cuyo, at an elevation of 980 metres and grown on poor, shallow and well-drained soils, and the Altamira subregion of the Uco Valley, at 1,100 metres on sandy and limestone soils over calcareous rocks.

In the UK the wine is available from The Wine Library (online or from their shop in London EC3), online from Slurp and directly from importer Bancroft Wines (sales@bancroftwines.com or 020 7232 5476). It is also on the wine list of the hugely successful Gaucho chain of restaurants – mostly in London but now too in Leeds, Manchester, Hong Kong, Dubai and Buenos Aires. The wine is also available, though mostly in restaurants, in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Denmark (imported by AK Vine in Greve and available from Lundgren-Vip in Copehagen from next week) and Texas (Kock's Fine Wines in Wichita Falls and King's Wines and Liquors in Fort Worth, imported by McClellan Imports, Benbrook TX).

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