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How old is the Argentinian fine wine industry really? Thought by most to be pioneers of the new world wine wave, Rutinin wines beg to differ. Proud of their 134-year history, Rutini is very definitely an old dog that has learnt more than a few new tricks.
Pioneer of European style in Mendoza
Hailing from a viticultural family in Italy, Felipe Rutini was just 18 when he set off for the fabled new world. Winding up in Mendoza, he did the only thing he knew how and opened a small winery. Argentina seemed to be open to his European style of winemaking and slowly he began importing equipment from back home. Fate, however, was to deal a poor hand and Rutini died aged 53. Faced with bringing up her seven children alone, the widow Rutini planted vines in Tupungato, (the first one to do so), hoping to get a little extra cash. This proved to be her trump card; Tupungato is today one of the most coveted wine regions in Argentina.
Quality rather than quantity
Lack of funds meant that widow Rutini could not mass-produce, as was the trend in the mid-20th century, so she focused on making the best wine she could with what she had. This again proved fortuitous as when Argentina began to emerge as a legitimate contender to Bordeaux and Burgundy, very few estates were fine wine ready. Keen to harness the success that Argentia was enjoying, Rutini renovated their 19th-century winery and hired Mariano di Paola as chief winemaker (one of Decanter magazine’s top 30-winemakers). “We think of Mariano as being one of the three pillars that make Rutini what it is today,’ says Alejandro Bofill, the current CEO of Rutini, “the other two are tradition and quality”.
But what about the wines?
Tradition, quality and 130-plus years in the biz might be all very good, but when it comes to fine wine, the proof is in the pudding (or glass). Thankfully, Rutini lives up to the hype; their icon wine Felipe Rutini is not only considered as one of the top 50 wines in South America but is also the third most expensive in Argentina. This wine has shown superb profitability in recent years, rising from around €120 a bottle in 2015 to over €200 in 2019. Interestingly Felipe Rutini is a Bordeaux blend, showing that there is more to Argentina than just cheap Malbec.