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text and photographs © 2008 Tom Cannavan

These notes accompany our in-depth feature on Argentina.

I was very honoured when Jorge opened both a 1974 Malbec and then a 1944 Tannat from the company's cellars for my visit, and to get a sneak preview of the new 'icon' wine Gernot Langes. The rather tongue-twisting name is in fact the name of Norton's Austrian owner, Gernot Langes-Swarovski.

white wines

Norton Sauvignon Blanc 2007
Norton and Trappiche where the first to make Sauvignon Blanc in Argentina. This has a nice passionfruit and lightly tropical nose, in a medium style of Sauvignon with good fruit and a nice mouth-feel, and plenty of mouthfilling fruit, with a racy streak of lemon acidity. £4.99, Waitrose. 86/100

Norton Ofrenda Chardonnay 2006
In the Netherlands market only at present. Fermented and aged 10 months in French oak barriques. Very attractive nose that is mainly driven by the creamy, vanillin of the oak but with good apple and melon fruit coming through. The palate also betrays the slightly overpowering oak, but has good, clean fruit and a nice sense of mineral and lemon zest acidity. Very good value as it sells at 10 Euros. 86/100

Norton Torrontès 2007
In screwcap. Quite a restrained nose, with quite juicy exotic fruit notes and a certain waxy quality, without too much florality. A nice mouthfilling wine, with a cool but nicely fruity character, and good acidity keeping it fresh and crisp despite obviously powerful character. £4.99, Waitrose. 86/100

red wines

Norton Tannat 1944
Fantastic nose, with the old wine tobacco, undergrowth and Demerara sugar, with a suggestion of real sweetness. The fruit on the palate still has real sweetness and purity. It is aged, with refined tannins and a lovely suggestion of coffee and smoky tobacco in the finish. 90/100

Norton Malbec 1974
Sherry, a touch of gravy browning, some suggestion of sweet fruit, but too late for this one... 80/100

Norton Barbera 2007
Nice bright, cherry fruit, with plenty of racy fruit and acidity on the palate, and plenty of zip and fresh, paint-boxy aromatics and flavour. £4.99, Waitrose. 86/100

Norton Bonarda 2007
Nicely paint-boxy, dry, cherry and lightly vanillin nose, with plenty of juicy character. The palate has more weight than the Barbera, with similar cherry acidity and a little more tannin. Very good and stylish. Not in UK at present. 87/100

Norton Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2005
Twelve months in oak, all French. A nice meaty, chocolaty nose, with a hint of mint to quite earthy black fruit. The palate has a fine juiciness to it, with lots of crisp-edged, very mouthfilling fruit with nicely supple tannins. £7.99, mostly Berkmann on-trade. 87/100

Norton Reserve Malbec 2005
Very fine nose, with a spice and cedary character, and a touch of coffee. There is very svelte black fruit here, with plenty of ripe, juicy appeal. Lovely palate of very plush, juicy black fruit, bursting berry quality and freshness, just leading into a peppery spice quality with good balance. A big line, with 450,000 litres made. £7.99, Sainsbury's. 87/100

Norton Privada 2005
60% Malbec, 20% each of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, aged in almost all new French oak, apart from 10% of the Malbec which is in American oak. Gorgeous nose, very Bordeaux-like with cedar and a touch of gaminess, but flooded with blackcurrant fruit and a touch of spice. Lovely weight on the palate, with copious black fruit, and a structure of toasty, charry oak in the background, and crisp-edged tannins and acidity giving poise and length. Very impressive. £11.99, mostly on-trade. 90/100

Norton Perdriel Single Vineyard 2004
60% Malbec, 28% Merlot and 12% Cabernet Sauvignon, aged 14 months in all new French oak, apart from 10% of the Malbec which is in American oak Very big, minty, chocolate nose, flooded with glossy cassis and fragrant plum and cherry. The palate has a very smooth, juicy fruit quality, with a silky weight of plum and black berry fruit, and a rounded juiciness. The tannins are very spicy and lithe. There's plenty of lithe, spicy, big and plush appeal. A few cases in the UK, at around £40. 92/100

Norton Gernot Langes 2003
70% Malbec, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc. 8,500 bottles. Huge coffeeish nose, with a deep well of espresso. A touch of game, a plush, spicy and deep-chested. Absolutely beautiful plushness of texture and fruit, flooded with sweetness and ripeness of chocolate and dark berries, filling the mouth. The tannins are very supple and oaky, giving a ripe, sweet edge of spice and coffee to the finish, with a lovely freshening acidity. Very long and focused and a layered fleshy, very impressive wine. In USA at $110. 94/100

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