Orfila makes wines in Argentina, but its roots trace to Italy:
Spanish immigrant José Orfila founded his eponymous winery in 1905 in Mendoza on lands that were once owned by José de San Martin, Argentina’s founding father. In 2010, the Gancia family, accomplished Italian winemakers who had established themselves in Argentina decades earlier, merged their winemaking traditions with the Orfila family when they acquired the winery. The pioneering spirit of the two families remains today, as Orfila continues to offer elegant and refined wines in a style that celebrates European traditions while showcasing the finest fruit character of Mendoza’s vineyards.
Fun story, and today we look at five wines from the winery, none coming in at a price of more than 20 bucks.
2019 Orfila Estate Selection Malbec Mendoza – Surprisingly approachable and full of fruit. Lush raspberry and strawberry, some orange peel, and a very light touch of tannin give the wine a bold acidity and a sharpness that doesn’t exactly evoke malbec but which is ultimately hard to put down. A crisp finish lets some oak into the equation, but not too much. This feels like a solid by-the-case party wine for your next banquet — maybe the best you’ve ever had. B+ / $15
2020 Orfila Classic Malbec Mendoza – A lot of similarity between this and the 2019 Estate Selection, though there’s a bit more balsamic astringency on the 2020. Notes of blackcurrants and gunpowder give this wine a certain sweet-meets-savory character, albeit with ample pungency and more peppery spice on the finish. Gentle notes of roasted meats inform a short but agreeable finish. B+ / $13
2018 Orfila Reserva Malbec Uco Valley – Hearty, much more austere than the Estate Selection. Dominated by notes of licorice, cloves, and blackberry bramble, the bright fruitiness of the Estate Selection never really materializes here, remaining fully restrained and lightly tannic. Some pepper percolates on the lengthy, currant-laced finish, adding more gravitas to the wine — but ultimately I enjoyed the simpler, brighter Estate Selection more. B / $20
2020 Orfila Estate Selection Cabernet Sauvignon Mendoza – A workable cabernet, earthy and lightly tannic, with a slightly gritty, balsamic edge to it. A dark chocolate note and some raspberry reduction gives the body a bit more body than otherwise expected, with notes of tea leaf lingering on the modest finish. Uncomplicated but perfectly approachable, particularly given the price tag. B+ / $15
2018 Orfila Reserva Red Blend Uco Valley – 50/50 cabernet malbec. A well-structured red, layered with notes of chocolate, tea leaf, and balsamic notes. Tart with a hefty blend of currants and cranberries, the wine returns to notes of chocolate sauce for the finish, showcasing a delicate balance with its tart berry elements. B+ / $20