Malbec has defined Argentinean wines in the past couple of decades, but its high altitude vineyard sites nurtures many different grape varietals. In a quest for quality, Rutini Wines is expanding and experimenting, growing a wide variety of grapes, from Cabernet Sauvignon to Tempranillo and Sauvignon Blanc to Verdicchio, inspired by the winemaking regions of Bordeaux, Spain, and northern Italy. Tinkering with the best sites and winemaking techniques, Rutini takes advantage of the intense sunlight and slow snow melt of the cooler climate Andes foothills, its stony and sandy soils patiently nurtures the winegrapes during a long hang time. A trio of Rutini wines demonstrates their progress in renovating the brand.
Rutini Wines was founded over 130 years ago, by Italian immigrant Felipe Rutini, whose family made wine in Le Marche, Italy. One of the early winemaking pioneers in Argentina, Bodegas La Rural was established in the Mendoza region. Over 20 years ago, Rutini was sold to an influential group of investors, including Nicholas Catena and Jose Benegas Lynch, and a push to quality has ensued. Hiring Mariano Di Paola as head winemaker, Rutini has modernized its facilities, expanding to the Tupungato Valley. Traveling the globe to learn more about vineyard management, Di Paola is ambitious, aiming to make Rutini a household name, known for premium wines. In the quest to make Rutini Argentina’s most prestigious producer, Di Paola has garnered a lot of attention. In 2015, Decanter magazine named Di Paola as one of the best 30 winemakers in the world.
Producing a wide range of wines, Rutini offers two different labels, the basic Trumpeter wines and the upper Rutini lineup, which includes six varietal wines and two blends. The vineyards of Gualtallary, a small sub-region of Mendoza, is the cradle for these wines. Considered to be an exceptional area for making wine, Gualtallary is relatively hot and dry, even though it is one of Mendoza’s coolest areas, because of its high altitude. The wines reflect this, more ripe versions of France’s Bordeaux grape varietals.
The 2012 Rutini Cabernet Sauvignon is very good, smooth and distinctive, with a very long finish. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, this rich red wine is aged for 14 months in 50/50 new and used French oak barrels. The oak is well integrated, permeating the red fruit aromas and flavors with spice, coffee, chocolate, and vanilla. Well-balanced tannins and notes of cocoa frame the finish. Excellent with steak, it’s also delicious by the glass, Rutini Cabernet Sauvignon sells for $35.
The 2012 Rutini Sauvignon Blanc is an unusual interpretation of the grape. Aged in 50/50 new and used French oak for 3 months, this 100% Sauvignon Blanc’s citrus-herbaceous nature is expressed in its nose. Pink grapefruit, herbs, and grassy aromas are prominent, yet the palate is different. Instead of a higher acid profile, it’s richer and rounder, due to 25% malolactic fermentation, and the oak frames the citrus fruit, accented with vanilla notes. It’s well balanced, with medium acidity and a fuller body than most Sauvignon Blancs, making it a good food wine, priced at $25.
The 2012 Rutini Malbec is a full bodied, concentrated wine, with a more aged profile. 100% Malbec and sourced from three different vineyards, it is aged for 12 months in 80% new French oak and 20% new American oak. Deep flavors of black fruit, infused with black pepper, lingers on the palate, with accents of tobacco and vanilla. Not as well balanced as the others, the higher alcohol stands out, yet may be a wine for those who like California’s bigger reds. Rich food dishes are a good pair for this wine, retailing for $35.
Rutini Wines is a work in progress, with Mariano Di Paola heading the team and significant investment shaping the future. If this trio is any indication, Argentina is more than Malbec, with Cabernet Sauvignon showing promise.