Cost: Average price $11.99
Where buy now: Byerly's Wines & Spirits, Minnetonka- $11.99, Swirl in Afton - $11.99
Grapes: Torrontes, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Ugni Blanc
Region: Mendoza, Argentina
A few weeks ago, I sat down with Eugenio & Teresa Meschini, co-owners of the winery Famiglia Meschini. They met at St. Thomas University, where he was a Chemistry major and she was a French and Business major. Guy meets girl, falls in love, marries, they have babies, yadda yadda yadda. A few years later, they invest in a vineyard being developed by a good friend near his hometown of Mendoza, Argentina. For me, THIS is where the magic begins.
Early on in our visit, the Meschini’s came clean: they are not wine purists. They are atypically fearless with their blends, always brainstorming new combinations. Also, these folks are not afficianados in lab coats, J Crew khakis and dark rimmed glasses discussing the aromatic nuances of wet dog and feet (two ACTUAL terms used by wine critics- I cannot make this up). The Meschini’s come to the wine industry having been lovers of the grape and making what they enjoy. As Teresa put it, “We make wines, but not to impress. If no one else likes our wine, we’ll just have to drink them.” Amen, sister!
Eugenio then discussed the early 1990s wine-boom in Argentina. In the mid-20th Century, Argentine wines were “crap”- nothing but glorified church wine at best. He firmly believes, though many Argentines don’t want to admit it, that the French influence during the 1970s/early 80s was crucial. He said the French brought new techniques and standards, including the use of stainless steel tanks and coal, that advanced the local production of today.
Famiglia Meschini is located about 3200 ft above sea level right at the foothills of the Andes Mountains in Mendoza, facing West. The vines get hot sun during the day and cool night breezes to maintain a balanced stress, which provides depth and character to the grapes. Meschini vineyards sell 90% of their grapes to other wineries. What they do with the other 10%, well, let’s find out.
I tasted two from their line: a white blend and a Malbec-Syrah blend. For those die-hard Malbec lovers, I implore you to try the Malbec -Syrah. The white blend is like a white Bordeaux, but with a Latin kick from the influence of the lightly effervescent Torrontes. I poured a glass one sunny afternoon and sat back on my patio. “Ah, life is good,” I thought to myself. The sun glistened off the condensating glass of light golden nectar. The aroma of apple and citrus fruit are apparent, and upon first sip, these flavors swirl around your mouth. There is also an ever so slight hint of what I’d call vanilla oak. It’s soft and round, not super sweet nor syrupy, yet a little heavier than a crisp Sauvignon Blanc or Torrontes due to the Chardonnay. The Ugni Blanc & Sauvignon Blanc keep the crisp acidic citrus and floral notes balanced while the Torrontes gives it that apricot Latin kick of fizz I was referring to earlier. (Whew! Time to grab my labcoat and glasses after that diatribe.)
This is a fun wine! Drink it minus food distractions and you’ll enjoy it. Or, I paired it with a combination of grilled cod, spicy Asian noodles and spinach salad. (I know- WTF? It was at the end of the month as was our grocery budget.) This wine would pair well with fish and salad but it would also pair well with spicy Asian fare. I had enough for one glass, and let a couple girlfriends sample it, instantly they asked where they could get it. That’s a ringing endorsement!
I implore you to support this great family vineyard. If you live in the Western Metro, you know I’m sending you to Byerly’s in Minnetonka (PS, their wine sale is happening right now.) If you live in the Eastern Metro or Western Wisconsin, check out Swirl in Afton. Live in the city? Sorella Wines, France 44, Solo Vino, Thomas Liquor, South Lyndale Liquors are a few as well.