Drunk July 2015, Fogo De Chao, Santo Amaro 6824 | Santo Amaro, Sao Paulo, Brazil
After an already long and successful career in winemaking, Susana Balbo described her own winery – Dominio del Plata – as ‘like my third child, a dream come true.’
Susana Balbo was born in Mendoza, Argentina to a traditional Italian family. Wine was always a big part of her life as she was growing up “My first memory is not actually mine, it’s told to me by my parents. In my childhood, the beverage for kids was water with a drop of wine to taint the color. So my parents gave me a full glass of water with a few drops of wine, and it seems I liked it as a 3-year old. They say they looked to the side, and I was taking the bottle to pour a full glass of wine!" She opted to become a wine maker and graduated from Don Bosco University in 1981 with a degree in enology. Upon graduating, Susana became the first female enologist in the history of Argentine winemaking.
Susana’s first job as a winemaker was at Michel Torino winery in the Salta province. At Michel Torino, Susana was put in charge of further developing the Torrontes varietal, which is native to Argentina. She stylized the wine so that it showed a very floral nose, with a refreshing citrus taste. To this day, she is credited with being the creator of this distinctive and popular style earning her the nickname “Queen of Torrontes.”
After working in Salta, Susana returned to Mendoza to work in wineries including Bodega Martins and Bodega Catena Zapata.
Having worked extensively both in Argentina and throughout the winemaking world (Spain, Chile, Italy, Australia, and California among others) since the early eighties, it wasn't until 1999 that she finally realised her ambition of making her own wine at Dominio del Plata in the Lujan de Cuyo region of Mendoza Argentina. Susana established her winery in Agrelo, assisted by the renowned Argentine viticulturist Pedro Marchevsky who helped plant the vineyards.
Initially the production was quite small. The first batches of the Susana Balbo and BenMarco lines were released in August 2000. From 2010 through the present, the winery has undergone significant internal organisational changes. During this time both of Susana’s children decided to join the family business. Her son Jose received his enology degree from UC Davis and works as both the winemaker and the export manager and Ana, her daughter, has a degree in Business Administration from Universidad de San Andres and is the manager of the marketing department.
The winery has an approximate area of 7,000 sq metres with a yearly output of around 2,000,000 litres.
The 2010 is a blend of 45% cabernet sauvignon, 20% merlot, 15% malbec, 10% cabernet franc and 10% petit verdot aged in new French oak for 15 months.
This is Susanna Balbo's signature wine and the quality shows. Unlike a couple of recent Argentinian wines, it was very well balanced and not over powered.
It is unusual to see an Argentine blend where Malbec doesn't dominate and this is elegant and structured. Nice blackcurrant and blackberry fruit with an exceptional smoothness with hints of spice and an ultra long finish. Lovely with the barbecue meat with the finesse of the best. £20-30 in the UK.