Posted by: Andy Kelly
There are a few wineries that can be credited for teaching me how to understand wine. But there is only one winery that can be credited for teaching me how to love wine.
My interest in wine started off precariously. It wasn’t love at first sight. It has involved many glasses and lots of wasted money. For a long time I wouldn’t even entertain the idea of drinking the stuff. Literally up until my mid-twenties my only experience of wine had been buying Ernest & Julio Gallo White Grenache at the local Off Licence for an ex-partner. It is a Rosé and the odd time I tasted it I was like “what the fuck am I drinking?!” Needless to say, I stuck to my real ales. Even when I drank wine that I thought I enjoyed, it was in a setting where we were drinking to have a good time and each time I got absolutely plastered and couldn’t remember much of the previous evening (no wonder my ex left me…).
Then, in my late twenties, I’d find myself being given a glass of wine each Saturday evening by my dad (a long time wine drinker and shameless wine snob) and, with the odd exception, I’d drink it, be completely flummoxed and revert back to my treasured wheat beer.
Then, one evening, he opened what he called a blockbuster. A wine so good that he was even reluctant to share it with his own son. This wine was Pulenta Estate X – Gran Malbec 2010.
I was given a small glass, as was custom, and told to put my nose inside and tell him what I could smell. It smelt nice, lovely in fact! I just got this overwhelming nose of cream and for the first time I found myself wanting to taste this glass, expecting to enjoy it as it went down. And I did.
All I could taste was the cream and every time I tasted it, I just kept wanting more and more. I knew that it was much more complex than that, that I could get hints of other tastes and smells as I enjoyed each sip but I wasn’t yet acclimatised to drinking wine and I couldn’t find the words to describe what I wanted to say. I didn’t need to though because what was written on my face told us both everything we needed to know, this was indeed a blockbuster, and this was a wine I could drink again and again.
That was a long time ago and what I couldn’t even begin to translate back then I can do in a sentence or two now. It’s a lovely, dull ruby colour in the glass and I get plums, cherries and chocolate on the nose and a silky-smooth, creamy vanilla taste as it goes down. The wine itself is full bodied with high alcohol content and is outstanding with a good steak. At £36 per bottle it’s not cheap, but it is worth every penny It has consistently delivered through each vintage and that is the mark of a truly quality wine. I have never ever opened a bottle of Pulenta X or Pulenta VII (Gran Corte) and been even slightly disappointed.
Pulenta Estate was founded in 2002 by two – third generation winemakers Eduardo and Hugo Pulenta. Their mission is to “produce a limited series of great wines, proudly made in Argentina”. They own two vineyards – Agrelo in Lujan de Cuyo and Los Arboles in Valle de Uco (or Uco Valley to us!). Both vineyards are in Argentina’s most prestigious winemaking region in Mendoza.
They don’t just limit themselves to Malbec either. Their VII Gran Corte 2013 is another standout wine and is a blend of Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Tannat. Their range also includes Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay…the list goes on and on! Each wine is given a distinct Roman numeral (such as “X” or 10 for Gran Malbec) and you’ll be glad to know that they’re not all in the £40 region. Their “I” Malbec comes in at a reasonable £20 and their La Flor (or young wine) Sauvignon Blanc comes in at around £15. I love the label with its minimalist approach and all the wines look good on any wine rack. Their website is full of useful content, gives you a comprehensive list of their wine selection and provides information on visiting the estate too.
I’ve rambled on about Pulenta Estate for absolutely years to anybody who would listen. Wherever possible I’ve bought it for friends and opened my own to share with people who were once like me, ignorant to the pleasures that wine could bring. So, I can understand if people think I sound like a broken record, a wine snob who harps on too much about two tiny plots in a world full of vineyards to explore.
But Pulenta X means much more than wine to me. I credit it for starting my love affair of wine and it’s because of this wine that I’ve discovered some absolute barnstorming wines (and a lot of hyped up dog shit) from all over the world. It’s partly the reason I’m WSET qualified and partly to blame for Dane and I sharing our musings with all of you.
It also deserves credit for one more thing too, and that’s for allowing me to build a much closer bond with my dad. Our relationship has never been bad, we’ve always gotten on really well and had some great laughs but it’s probably fair to say that even when we did have common hobbies, I’d lose interest eventually or find something else I’d want to do. Even when we did have common ground there’d still be in issue. For example, our common love of football is tainted because he’s an Evertonian and I’m a Liverpool fan. But it’s different with wine. Whenever we’re in each other’s company we sit and talk for hours about wine and though we still disagree on many things (I like chiding him on his complete and total disdain for Châteauneuf-du-Pape), we’re still talking about the thing we love over a glass we’re both enjoying almost all of the time. He’s even WSET qualified himself now!
So, thank you Eduardo and Hugo. Thank you for creating an outstanding wine that started my love affair and thank you for allowing me to become just that little bit closer with my dad despite him being a proper wine snob. In return, I remain at your disposal, ever eager to promote your wines on our website and I’ll even come and pick your grapes for free, or for the odd bottle, whatever suits you….