East of Mendoza city and in the province of Maipú I discovered one of the most interesting and culturally significant experiences of my wine trip to Argentina. More specifically, Bodegas la Rural and the Museo del Vino were our next scheduled stop, along with an introduction, tasting and lunch with the wines of Mapema.
Sound a bit confusing? Allow me to break this down. Two of Argentina’s most seasoned and respected winemakers, Pepe Galante and Mariano di Paola decided to collaborate and produce a limited range of inspiring wines sourced from prime growing regions throughout Mendoza. They named their project “Mapema” which is derived from the first two letters of each winemakers name..ma –Mariano + pe –Pepe + another ma. Mariano jokingly admits that he is more important so his name should be listed twice. However most people agree that it takes two Mariano’s to equal the talent of one Pepe. BTW, these two guys are very good friends!
Here are their creds: In addition to being the head winemaker at Catena Zapata for 30+ years, Pepe Galante is also a university professor of viticulture and enology at Juan Augustin Maza University in Mendoza. Since 1995 Mariano di Paola has been the head winemaker at Bodega La Rural, which is the domaine and homebase of the more famously known range of wines known as Rutini.
For this reason, and on this particular day, our introduction to the wines of Mapema took place at Bodega La Rural/Rutini. Besides the beautiful winery and vineyard setting, Bodega La Rural is home to one of the most amazing wine museums..possibly in all the world. Over 5000 different tools and artifacts highlight Argentine wine history in this beautiful historical setting.
If you go to Argentina, and you make a trip to Mendoza to explore wine country, then you must stop here. What an absolute historical and national treasure. And while you’re at it, you’ll also learn more about the Rutini family, one of the most important families in the development of Argentine wine industry.
We started off the festivities with a glass of Argentine sparkling wine. Rutini produces a line of still and bubblies under the Trumpeter range. I enjoyed a glass of this extra brut brut with an empanada (or two!)
Asado -Mapema style!
As we sat down to lunch, a variety of fresh salads arrived tableside, followed by this meat extravaganza from the grill. In most latin american countries and certainly Argentina, such a selection is known as Asado: mini chorizo, mini morcillas, costillas, punta de espalda de cerdo, carne, chivo.
Los tintos de Mapema
To compliment our platters of asado, Mapema poured their current red releases.
2008 Mapema Malbec: Fruit sourced from the Uco Valley (San Carlos-La Consulta) at 3200ft elevation. The average vine age here is 80+ years. This beautifully balanced malbec weighs in at a slim 13.9% abv. Perfect. I can have a second glass!
2007 Mapema PZ Malbec: The fruit for this flashier number is sourced from 50 year old vines located in prime zones or primera zonas “PZ” of Tupungato and La Consulta at 3500 ft. elevation. Although the PZ Malbec spends 12 months in 100% new barrique, there is sufficient extract to handle the wood regimen and produce a richer but still elegant red. The alcohol here too is definitely within the realm of food friendly. At 13.5% it paired beautifully with my chivo (goat).
2008 Mapema Malbec/Tempranillo: España, take notice..this is one delicious and super smooth tempranillo blend. Lush, plummy with crushed red berry fruits and just a hint of smoke and mineral and the requisite acidity. Really lovely stuff!
Mariano di Paola in the middle!
Our group, along with the Mapema team enjoyed a leisurely lunch underneath the shady trees behind the Bodega La Rural/Rutini winery.
While some folks enjoyed a glass of the 2009 Sauvignon Blanc before sitting down to lunch, I actually waited until the cheese course was served. Contrary to what many people believe, I find that white wine is a more versatile and complimentary choice with most types of cheese.
The cheese course -a la Argentina
Mapema’s Sauvignon Blanc is bright and fresh, however 10% of the wine is aged in new French oak for 3 months, which provides a bit of richness and intensity. I love bitey, bitey Sancerre of New Zealand SB, however Mapema’s example is a welcome addition to my list of go to sauvignon blancs. I just love it.
For dessert, a Mango mousse with berry coulee was paired with Rutini’s 2005 Vin Doux Naturel produced from Semillon.
Let's finish on a smooth note..with a sip or two of Mapema Grappa!
And to round out this lunch, a sip of Mapema “Grapa”, which I have never before seen stateside. Grappa, which is basically a distillate made from the pomace, skins and pips 0f grapes is a great way to end a rich meal. A sip of this lightly fragrant digestif will miraculously make a full tummy feel, well, not so full.
A huge thank you to the beautiful folks at Mapema for hosting such a great afternoon!
For more pics of the Museo del Vino please check out Les Photos..
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