WINE REVIEW: 2017 Zolo Cabernet Franc Reserve, Mendoza, Argentina ($19)
by Andrew Chalk
Zolo was founded in 2003 by Patricia Ortiz. It produces several ranges of wines, distinguished by their price tier. The reserves are second only to the blacks. This wine is a comparatively rare beast in Argentina, a cabernet franc, the French red grape that is the backbone of red wines from Chinon in the Loire, and second only to merlot in the Bordeaux area of St-Emilion. Indubitably, the grape has travelled successfully to Italy and the New World, in each case bringing its characteristic pyrazine (green pepper) calling card and robust tannic structure.
As part of the Zolo reserva line, this wine derives from specific named vineyard: the Las Llamas Estate, Agrelo, Luján de Cuyo, Mendoza. The vineyard is at an altitude of 2,550 feet The (100% cabernet franc) grapes are hand harvested and then passed through two selections on the sorting table. The fruit is cold soaked to extract color before fermentation which took around 15 days in this vintage, The wine is then aged for 11 months in a mixture of French and American oak barrels that are first, second, or third use. The magic factor is the contribution of consulting winemaker Jean Claude Berrouet, former winemaker at Château Pétrus.
Appearance: Deep, bright, ruby with an almost opaque core leading to a watery, purple, rim;
Nose: Classic cabernet franc pyrazines are muted to emit a complex and provocative bouquet. Sweet cedar notes from oak contribute a French nuance. Dark fruit of blackberries and cassis mingle with forest floor herbal notes.
Palate: Medium acid and soft, pincushion tannics, frame a big ball of the dark fruit mentioned previously. Very complex and subtle flavors that reward drinking now or cellaring for five years.
Overall, a sophisticated wine that in one glass makes a singular statement that Argentina can make world class cabernet franc as well as malbec. Most surprising of all is the price. Under $20 for a wine that rivals examples at twice the price. Very highly recommended.