TILIA Chardonnay 2020, Argentina
TILIA Malbec 2020, Argentina

Cost: $11-13

What: As climate change and conservation move to center stage of our awareness, sustainability has become a key component of wine producers.

TILIA Wines has made sustainability the centerpiece of its operations. From soil conservation to social sustainability, they work to make sure future generations will be able to enjoy the same fine wine we do today.

Their Chardonnay is a terrific wine, and an even better bargain. The grapes come from two sustainable vineyards in Mendoza, with elevations ranging from 1,500 to 3,000 feet above sea level. The mountain climate intensifies the flavors and allows the grapes to ripen slowly.

It pays off with wonderful flavors of tropical fruit, peach and toasted bread. It is a gorgeous pale gold in the glass with pleasant aromas of tropical fruit and flowers. It has an intense mouthfeel with a long finish marked by subtle mineral notes. It is a nicely balanced wine with crisp acidity holding all the fruit flavors together.

It is an amazing wine for $12, delivering a package you would expect at twice the price.

The Malbec also is good, with a smooth, rich mouthfeel. Malbec is Argentina’s signature red variety, and the TILIA Malbec would be a good introduction to the grape if you haven’t had it before. It has wonderful flavors of ripe casis, black fruit, cherry, a touch of spice and muted tannins. The wine is great with food, and won’t overpower your taste buds.

The back label tells the story of TILIA’s conservation efforts.

The Tilia or Tilo tree, the wine label’s namesake, although not a native species, adapts well to Mendoza because it tolerates the region’s drought and mountain cold. The leaves are made into a calming tea which is traditionally drunk after lunch or dinner, to facilitate an afternoon siesta or bedtime.

A hardy native plant, resistant to drought and covered with yellow flowers in spring, jarrilla provides pollen for the over 200 species of native bees in Mendoza. By increasing biodiversity, native plants maintain insect and bird ecosystems. The leaves of jarrilla are traditionally used to make a tea believed to act as an anti-inflammatory, reducing fevers and pain.

The vineyards are irrigated by the Tunuyán River, carrying pure mountain spring water from snow melt of the Andes. Strict drip irrigation control manages the volume of water in each plant, achieving watering efficiency.

Regarding social responsibility, the label says “People enrich the land and we enrich our people. We support our community with an array of programs to ensure that we all thrive as one.”

The grapes are 100% Chardonnay, fermented in French oak for 21-30 days, with 60% malolactic fermentation. The wine is aged in stainless steel tanks and Barriques, 10% new with French and American oak for three months, followed by an additional three months bottle aging.

Argentina’s per capita CO2 emissions are 25% less than those of the United States, Australia and Canada, and half those of the United Kingdom and New Zealand. TILIA’s practices aim to help keep those emissions low.

Winery: Founded in 2006, TILIA is based in Mendoza. It is part of the Winebow Imports group. While always committed to conservation, TILIA introduced new labels last year that focus on their sustainability efforts.

Their website says they “preserve and nurture plants, insects, and animals so that our vineyards can adapt to a changing environment…A reverence for traditional farming practices has shielded our ungrafted vineyards from harsh interventions, sustaining the land for generations to come…TILIA wines reflect our values: honor tradition, support the community, and respect nature.”

TILIA was the first wine brand to carry the Bodegas de Argentina official certification of sustainability seal on its label for its compliance to Argentina’s Sustainability Protocol.

TILIA wines are made in Junín, Argentina by Winemaker Gonzalo Llensa, whose love for the vineyards springs from his youth, as he cultivated crops in his grandmother’s orchard and learned the importance of resourcefulness from his father, a local electrician.

Gonzalo is joined by Sustainability Specialist, Guillermina Van Houten, the granddaughter of Dutch immigrants whose family practices the utmost respect for nature. Together, they honor deep-rooted Argentine farming traditions and protect the natural ecosystems that thrive in the dry sunny weather in Mendoza, by the Andes mountains. 

The TILIA portfolio includes Malbec, Malbec-Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Bonarda, Chardonnay, and Torrontés, with grapes sourced from the Eastern region of Mendoza, the Uco Valley region, and the Central region of Mendoza.  

At the core of TILIA’s ethos is its dedication to the community and ensuring that the people who enrich the land prosper. TILIA offers the children of harvest workers summer school programs that include sports and artistic activities. This benefit has enabled 20% more women to work during harvest. The winery collaborates closely with a local high school to encourage students to consider viticulture as a viable career option, helping to stem the exodus of potential local workers to the cities by offering secure, well-paying jobs close to home.

Dennis enjoyed the tacos with the Malbec.
Goes with: This Chardonnay would pair well with most chicken dishes, pasta dishes with cream sauces, and many seafood recipes like Grilled Salmon with Mango Salsa.

Teri and I had it with an easy summer meal of fried chicken we bought from a gas station. It sounds strange, but one of the best-tasting chicken franchises sells its chicken primarily from gas stations.

I read about the Krispy Krunchy chicken a few years ago and found one of the few spots in Augusta that sells it: the Raceway gas station on Wrightsboro Road near Augusta Mall. They only make the chicken in the morning, and when they sell out, it’s gone. So if you want it for dinner you have to buy it early.

It’s worth a little effort because the chicken is crispy on the outside and moist on the inside with what taste like creole flavors. We love it. We added PastaRoni, homemade onion rings, corn on the cob and a salad. It was a feast.

It matched perfectly with the Chardonnay, as the smooth tropical fruit flavors calmed some of the heat of the chicken.

The Chardonnay also pairs well with most chicken dishes, pasta with cream sauce and grilled seafood recipes such as Salmon with Mango Salsa.

The Malbec pairs well with grilled meats, such as beef, lamb or poultry. After all, Argentina is known for asado (barbecue). We had the Malbec with a street taco kit we bought from Costco, which has some great inexpensive dinners. They’re all prepared, and all you have to do is stick them in the oven.

So we had a great, inexpensive meal. The smooth, dark Malbec matched the spices in the tacos perfectly, with lots of rich, fruit flavors calming the spices and accenting the lettuce and tomatoes in the tacos. I figured between the wine and the street tacos, our delicious dinners came to less than $12 a person.

If you can’t find TILIA wines at your local wine shop, they are available at vivino.com.

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