Brian Demay’s Wine Wednesday: Santa Julia Mountain Blend

As much good wine as there is available to explore, I still break them all down to two categories: quick and slow. There are millions of wines that are pleasant enough, you like the taste, but you’re not going to spend much time thinking about them during, or after, you have a glass. I consider these Quick Wines. And then there are wines that make you pause, that make you stop think about what it is you’re tasting. These are what I like to consider Slow Wines.

A quick note about Slow Wines: normally, they are considerably more expensive than the average, but every now and then you find one that is not only slow, but affordable, like this week’s featured bottle, the Santa Julia Mountain Blend. This, my friend, is a 95 point wine that you can find locally for around $11!

As we talk about during my monthly wine dinners, the best wines always seem to come from upper elevation vines, in a drier climate. When a vine is stressed, the roots need to dig deeper to find nourishment from the soil, which always results in a more complex, interesting taste that truly reflects the terroir of that area. The Santa Julia Mountain Blend checks all those boxes: vines planted at around 5,000 feet in the Andes Mountains, specifically the Uco Valley of Mendoza, Argentina. This area is basically desert, but runoff from snow melting not only irrigates the vineyards but also carries interesting alluvial soil down hill, resulting in unique minerality, aromas, and color that you simply don’t find anywhere else in the world. Even better: Argentinian wines are priced significantly lower than those from California, France, Italy, or even Australia!

The 2015 Santa Julia Mountain Blend is 70% Malbec, and 30% Cabernet Franc. This wine was remarkable because it literally started evolving in the glass almost immediately; the flavors started opening up, deepening, and changing sip to sip. I had to slow down and appreciate the complexity. For a $10 wine that is very rare. What flavors, you ask? There’s plum and blueberry, typical of Malbec, with a hint of vanilla. The Cabernet Franc added an earthy quality that I wasn’t expecting, while throughout was a fresh tanginess, making the fruit even more juicy, wrapped in a spiced coffee finish with a tinge of minerality. LOTS going on with this one.

On my five-cork scale based on taste and value, The 2015 Santa Julia Reserva Mountain Blend gets 4 corks. This is not a big, bold, fruity crowd-pleasing wine, but I think the flavor profile is so complex and interesting, that you should experience it. $11 for a 95 point wine is not to be missed!


If you’d like to try interesting wines like this, please join me at our next private wine party at Sorrento’s Norwood Italian! I host a wine dinner there every month, and we feature several interesting wines, each paired with a delicious course. There are always cool prizes to win, too, so listen Wednesday at 4:15 to win your spot on the guest list, or click here for a chance to win!

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