From Old World Roots to New World Excellence: Bemberg Estate Wines

From Old World Roots to New World Excellence: Bemberg Estate Wines.

Imagine the year 1850 and you decide to emigrate from Germany to Argentina at the age of 23. Nowadays you take a plane and thirteen hours later you get off at Buenos Aires airport. Two hundred years ago this was not so fast and the boat trip took about two months, you had to get by without internet and upon arrival, with a country of 4,000 by 1,000 kilometers, you were still far from your destination. It was the journey that Otto Bemberg, that lead to the creation of Bemberg Wine Estates

Otto’s history and Bemberg’s past were presented to us during a recent winemaker lunch at ‘De Nacht van de Wijn’ of which our Daan gladly reports to you.

Bemberg Estate Wines

Otto Bemberg made the journey from Germany, via Paris to Argentina and in the following years he became a successful businessman by founding the Cerveze Quilmes beer brewery. Under the leadership of his son, Otto Sebastian, the first vineyards were purchased in Mendoza at the foot of the Andes in 1920. In 2006, Carlos Miguens Bemberg sold the last shares of the beer brewery, ending the passing from generation to generation after 150 years. Sitting still is apparently not in the DNA of the Bemberg family because in 2010 they decided to become the best winemaker in Argentina and they bought the wine cooperative Grupo Penaflor, known for, among other things, the Trapiche winery. Since 2010, Penaflor has become the number 1 Malbec producer in the world, they own 3,200 hectares of vineyard and work with 700 independent wine growers.

Within the large number of vineyards, the family, together with winemaker Daniel Pi, looked for the best micro-terroirs. That is also where the name ‘La Linterna’ of this series comes from. The name expresses the imaginary search in the dark for the most beautiful pieces of ground with a flashlight. These plots of land are referred to on the label with the plot number and name of the specific vineyard. The fact that the selected vineyards are of modest size is evident from the small quantities of each La Linterna wine, which averages around 4,000 bottles.

Nacht van de Wijn

The “Nacht van de Wijn” held its second Amsterdam edition at ‘De Hallen’, featuring the Bemberg Estate Winemaker Lunch with a spotlight on Bemberg’s Mendoza wines. Leading the culinary offerings was Onno Kokmeijer, former chef of the two-star Michelin-rated Ciel Bleu Restaurant.

Chef Onno Kokmeijer.

Initiated in 2021, the “Nacht van de Wijn” is an annual event originally based in Utrecht. This well-curated festival offers an extensive selection of over 200 wines for tasting. It caters to both press and consumers with exclusive events like winemaker’s lunches and is complemented by live music, emphasizing its commitment to celebrating viticulture.

Nacht van de Wijn at Amsterdam’s Foodhallen.

Wines and Food

Lunch this day consisted of three courses, and each dish was accompanied by different wines from Bemberg’s ‘La Linterna’ range. 

1st course, starter

The starter consisted of Sea Bass with veal cheek, carrot, cardamom, algae & crispy seaweed. The orange color jumped off the plate and highlighted the perfectly cooked piece of sea bass very beautifully! The following wines were served with this course.

2018 La Linterna Finca El Tomillo Chardonnay

Plot #1, Gualtallary

Originating from one of Argentina’s best wine regions, Gualtallary. The wine comes from Finca El Tomillo, located at an altitude of 1200 meters. Long ago, the Las Tunas River ran here. Over hundreds of years, the river has created fans consisting of sand and a high percentage of lime up to 100% from a depth of 40 centimeters. The perfect surface for chardonnay. After harvest, the juice is fermented in concrete eggs, foudres of 3000 liters and barrels of 300 to 500 liters. After fermentation, no wood is used and the wine is aged on the lees for ten months.

Apple on the nose, tropical fruit such as pineapple and melon, fine toast. Fresh attack, juicy, full structure, good acidity and length.

We reward this wine with a 92-point DWA score.

2016 La Linterna Finca Las Piedras Pinot Noir

Plot #1, Los Arboles

Los Arboles is located in the northern part of the Uco Valley, the second southernmost vineyard in Bemberg. The vineyards are located on average at an altitude of about 1300 meters on a soil of 3% clay, 90% sand and 7% silt. Deeper in the ground, just like on El Tomillo, there is a mix of stones and especially lime. The Los Arboles vineyards were planted in 2009 and are therefore relatively young, we drank the 2016. For the wine, 15% of the bunches are not destemmed and fermentation takes place in large French foudres of 6,000L. After fermentation, the juice undergoes a natural malolactic fermentation and then matures for 12 months in French oak.

Despite wine from grape vines that are seven years old, this Pinot Noir is rock solid. Aromas of strawberries, cherries, raspberries and cedar wood. Lots of juice, light tannin and fine structure, good length.

We reward this wine with a 93-point DWA score.

Wonderful Dishes were served with the Wines.

2nd course, main

The next course was a lamb neck with celeriac, citrus, coffee, wild garlic and Chimichurri oil. Once again, a beautiful dish, well flavored and perfect for the three Malbecs that were served with the dish. We will take you through the three wines we tasted.

2016 La Linterna Finca El Tomillo Malbec

Plot #5 Gualtallary

From the same vineyards as the chardonnay we discussed earlier. Not only the chardonnay does well on the alluvial soil with a high calcium carbonate content, but the Malbec grape also shows its best side. The grapes ferment with natural yeasts in 10,000L concrete barrels and then mature for 18 months in new French oak.

Black fruit, slightly subdued, spicy and some dark chocolate. Full, structure, lots of juice, grip, pepper, lots of length.

We reward this wine with a 92-point DWA score.

2016 La Linterna Finca La Yesca Malbec

Plot #13, Pedernal

Located in the south of the province of San Juan at an altitude of 1,400 meters. The soil consists of clay, sand and silt with many stones deeper in the soil and therefore little capacity to retain water. 10% of the bunches are fermented whole in 6,000L foudres. The malolactic fermentation takes place spontaneously and the wine matures for 18 months in new wood of 300L.

Dried fruit, blackberries, smoky, pepper and violets. Body, good tannin, juicy, good fruit.

We reward this wine with a 92-point DWA score.

2016 La Linterna Finca Los Chanares Malbec

Plot #73, Chanar Punco

For this vineyard we go a little further north in the province of Catamarca. Where the previous wines averaged between 1,200 and 1,400 meters above sea level, Los Chanares is at an altitude of 1950 meters. Of all the wines we tasted, the vines for this wine were planted the highest and the oldest, the vineyard was planted in the year 2000. The wine is fermented and aged in the same way as the ‘La Yesca’.

In the nose cherries, black fruit, slightly dried fruit, smoky, oak. Pleasant structure, spicy, pleasant acidity, good tannin and length.

We reward this wine with a 92-point DWA score.

3rd course, dessert

For dessert we were presented with a plate with a round chocolate plate of 80% Komuntu cacao. At the request of chef Kokmeijer, it had to be smashed with the spoon and then eaten as a whole with the underlying dessert. The dish consisted of Oabika (a concentrated juice of cacao), aged vinegar, long pepper & Cassia (Chinese cinnamon). The following wine was served with dessert.

2016 Pionero Finca El Tomillo


We ended this tasting with Finca El Tomillo, the same vineyard that brought us the Chardonnay that kicked off the afternoon. The Pionero is a blend unlike the wines above. Consisting of 78% Malbec, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon and 7% Cabernet Franc. The Malbec is harvested on three different dates. The first harvest is fermented with 10% whole bunches on small French wood of 225L. The second and third Malbec harvests are fermented on small wood without whole bunches. The Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc are fermented in large wood of 600L and after the malolactic fermentation together with the Malbec for 18 months, also matured in French oak.

For us the most successful wine of the afternoon. Blackcurrants, pencil shavings, dark chocolate, sweet spices. Concentrated, compact, ripe fruit, length.

We reward this wine with a 94-point DWA score.

Bemberg’s Wine Selection, the ‘La Linterna Range’.

Final Reflections: Celebrating Bemberg’s Ascent in Argentine Viticulture

Bemberg has worked his way up to the top of Argentina in a relatively short time. With a good story and the pursuit of only the very best. It is not without reason that Bemberg’s wines have received high scores for several vintages, not only from us but also from many reviewers. In any case, we will continue to follow Bemberg Wine Estates with great attention.

This article is written by our own Daan. We would like to thank Bemberg Wine EstatesNacht van de Wijn, Onno Kokmeijer and wine importer Poot Agenturen for this tasting.