Trapiche is one of Argentina’s oldest and finest wineries. Since its establishment in 1883 it has experienced phenomenal growth in parallel with the Argentine wine industry and today produces more than 3 million cases of wine annually in all price categories. It is also the country’s largest exporter of wine by volume with placements in over 80 countries. While best known for its outstanding Malbecs, Trapiche also produces a large volume of high value Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and other varieties. In this article we review Trapiche’s finest premium wines offered at different quality-price ratios, most of which are available in the US market. First some relevant background information on the winery.
As one of Argentina’s largest wine producers, Trapiche mainly sources grapes from 2,400 acres of estate vineyards and the vineyards of more than 200 independent growers located in Maipu, Lujan de Cuyo and the Uco Valley. Its vineyards provide a wide selection of Malbecs varying in age, clones and terroir. Most of its good quality value wines of Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay come from relatively young vines on the Uco Valley floor. Its single vineyard and other top premium wines are sourced from original, low yielding 130-140 year-old vines in the foothills of the Andes surrounding Mendoza. Its premium wines are also sourced from substantial plantings of new French clones of Malbec planted in the 1990s and massal selections from its own vineyards.
Daniel Pi is Trapiche’s celebrated winemaker and one Argentina’s finest wine professionals. An Argentine native and a graduate of its Escuela de Vitivinicultura Don Bosco, Daniel has served as winemaker for over 30 years. Prior to joining Trapiche he honed his winemaking skills working in Washington State and California. While at Trapiche he has also learned from Alberto Antonini and Michel Roland, two of the top wine consultants in the world.
Daniel Pi’s winemaking philosophy (and that of Trapiche) is consumer-oriented. His goal is to produce wine that has a proper relationship of price to quality. For high end wines, he is more concerned with producing wines that reflect their terroir. In preparing this article, we had the good fortune to renew our contact with Daniel whom we had met during our previous work in Argentina.
In 2009, Trapiche planted new vineyards on a two thousand acre estate located along the South Atlantic in a region called Chapadmalal, about a half hour’s drive from the resort town of Mar del Plata and just 6 km from the sea. Its vineyards were established with the goal of producing Chardonnay and other varieties under coastal growing condition. Rainfall is 1000 mm/year, so no irrigation is needed, and the soil is rich in nutrients with a strong calcareous layer that produces wines of a mineral nature. The wines produced here are sold under the label Costa y Pampa; unfortunately, they are not yet available in the US market. The winemaker is Ezequiel Ortego, a nephew of Daniel Pi.
Over the past 15 years, the International Wine Review has written numerous articles and two in-depth reports on the wines of Argentina. Report #5: Argentina’s Magnificent Malbec focused on the emergence of Malbec as the engine of growth of the Argentine wine industry, while Report #26: The Diverse Wines of Argentina (Double Issue) explored the growth and diversity of Argentine wine within and outside Mendoza.
Trapiche 2019 Albariño Costa & Pampa Chapadmalal Buenos Aires 92 This is an impressive Albariño. It shows noteworthy varietal typicity, a lovely floral nose with hints of nectarine and stone fruit and offers lovely concentrated flavors with considerable purity and liveliness. It is clear that Albariño has found a home in Argentina.
Trapiche 2019 Chardonnay Costa & Pampa Chapadmalal Buenos Aires 93 Lovely aromatic and fresh on the nose, revealing notable coastal influences. The flavors are intense with stone and orchard fruit. Excellent balance and texture and silky with a hint of herbs. Long and persistent finish.
Trapiche 2019 Medalla Chardonnay Mendoza ($22) 91 Very aromatic with aromas and flavors of crisp apple and ripe grapefruit. On the palate it reveals a lovely texture with notes of orchard fruit and honeydew. It has a good backbone and a long finish. Outstanding value!
Trapiche 2019 Chardonnay Terroir Series Finca Las Piedras Valle de Uco Mendoza ($35) 92+ This is a fruit forward Chardonnay offering rich aromas of apple and melon with hints of toasted oak. On the palate it reveals a soft attack with excellent acidity, balance and texture. Another excellent value!
Trapiche 2017 Medalla Cabernet Sauvignon Mendoza ($25) 90 The Medalla Cabernet Sauvignon offers dark red fruit on the nose and palate with firm round tannins. It is nicely balanced with good concentration and a moderate finish. A good middle of the road Cabernet.
Trapiche 2017 Malbec Finca Ambrosia Terroir Series Valle de Uco ($47) 95 The 2017 Malbec Finca Ambrosia is a beautiful wine, richly endowed with ripe dark red berry fruit and a touch of cassis. It has a soft and silky mouth feel, outstanding flavor concentration, and a long persistent finish.
Trapiche 2017 Malbec Finca Coletto Valle de Uco 95 The Malbec Finca Coletto is another beautiful single vineyard wine showing purity of aroma and flavor. Richly endowed, it is slightly less bold as the Finca Ambrosia, but equal in quality and somewhat more refined on the palate with excellent balance and rounded tannins.
Trapiche 2017 Medalla Malbec Mendoza ($22) 92 The Medalla Malbec offers aromas and flavors of pure dark plum fruit with a hint of herbs and light toast. It is fruit forward in character with excellent fruit and acid balance and a pleasant long finish. A benchmark Malbec for the price.
Trapiche 2017 Iscay Malbec and Cabernet Franc Mendoza ($42) 95 Iscay is a delicious high-toned and precise blend of Malbec and Cabernet Franc. Opaque ruby garnet in color, it reveals elements of fresh fruit, earth and underbrush on the nose and a refined elegant palate with layers of black and red fruit with floral notes. The wine is still rather youthful with firm round tannins and has a long satisfying finish.