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VIP Wines Newsletter. For International and local wine makers, wine agents, and wine connoisseurs

The Wine

92 Points - WineandSpirits.com

"Sonia and David Smith, a British couple that settled in Mendoza, began producing wine in 2007 in Altamira, Uco Valley. their 2013 shows the most refreshing and fruity side of Malbec, the crisp red fruit flavour and violet notes lifted by its effusive energy. Firm acidity and prickly tannins suggest a match with venison."

 Wine of Distinction - Jancis Robinson, Financial Times


"Confident, well integrated, fully ripe spicey fruit. This is pure 21st century Mendoza Malbec. Nothing syupy, but very gorgeous and easy to love. Edge of saltiness but not obtrusively so. Really appetizing. The tannins are so soft ou could drink this already, with or without food. Bravo!"


90 points - eRobertParker.com 


"From a high elevation estate in the heart of Malbec country, the Valle de Uco, Son Vida's 2013 Malbec is 95% Malbec, and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon aged in 15% new French Oak for 14 months. this wine shows loads of blackberry fruit and hints of white chocolate and espresso bean in a medium to full bodied, beautifully rich, full style with terrific focus and freshness. This should drink well for at least 5-6 years."

The Background

David was a respected journalist for Reuters UK and Britain’s Independent Television News covering wars in the Middle East (RTS Award for reporting from Beirut), the collapse of the Soviet Union, as well as reporting from Africa, South America, Spain, Italy and Washington D.C.  Interestingly, he reported extensively from Canada in the 1990s, especially election of Chretien, Quebec referendum, and G7 summits

Later he was personally asked by Kofi Annan  to be the Deputy Director for the United Nations Information Centre   in Washington liaising with the United States Congress. Afterwards he became Special advisor to UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon.


Along the way David also managed to spend time teaching  journalism as a Visiting Professor at the Universities of Michigan and Maryland, focusing on the role of the foreign correspondent influencing foreign policy. He also wrote two books, one on Robert Mugabe, the other a study of Israel's relationship with the Palestinians. Little wonder he was named by the Telegraph (UK) as one of the top 40 most influential British people working in the USA. Another point, David’s reporting excellence was publicly recognized with awards from Uk’s  Royal TV Society as well as the New York TV Festival.

A Love of International Journalism turns into a Love of Wine, Family & Country
A move to Argentina to raise a family and produce internationally acclaimed wines
is a dream come true for David and Sonia Smith.

Sonia who was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina studied at Cambridge University. Her journalism career led to BBC, then Independent Television News and later to Washington D.C. as a presenter on CNN (Sonia Ruseler). Reaching back to her roots she bought a small vineyard in Mendoza, prompted by her appreciation and knowledge of wine. She had studied at the Court of Master Sommeliers, to become a certified sommelier. And never one to do things in half measure she then immersed herself in a Wine MBA program at the Bordeaux Ecole de

Management, and received the highest mark in the Advanced Certificate from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET) of London. She became the Director of the Champagne Bureau in the United States, and of the Center for Wine Origins, promoting the wine regions of Champagne, Port and Jerez in the United States, and defending their geographical indications. 


Incidentally, David even with his high pressure diplomatic pressures also became a Certified Sommelier of the Court of Master Sommeliers, and then studied to receive an Advanced Certificate from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET) of London.

When David was appointed Director of United Nations Information Centre in Buenos Aires, he and Sonia knew it was time to move themselves and their two youngest children to Argentina and seriously pursue their wine dreams.

As fortune would have it, their property was near Bodega Catena Zapata and they became friends with family of Nicolas Catena, a pioneer in modern day winemaking in Argentina. The relationship is such that Nicolas’ very respected winemaker, Ale Vigil, directs the making of SonVida wines.

Sonia and David are totally involved in the operating of their hand-harvested single vineyard, which is eloquently described in David’s book, Dream On (published in UK 2010). The story of how they built a vineyard from scratch.


Sonia and David are living proof that Dreams can come true for those willing to dedicate talent and hard work to achieve their goals.

Hand-harvesting requires a big team since it is done in a day and a half to

ensure the fruit is picked at optimal ripeness

The Reviews

The follow-up to their 4th Best Wine in the World 2012 Malbec...

The Smith's have produced another hit with their 2013 vintage Malbec.

Year'sBest Argentine Malbec


SonVida Malbec



93+ points - Matt Steeves, quercusvino.ca

"This single vineyard expression of Mendoza Malbec showcases how well structured, complex, and flavorful premium Malbec can be. For under $30, the 2013 SonVida Malbec is an outstanding wine that I’d recommend buying by the case(s). Deep ruby red with an opaque core, the nose is bursting with sweet Damson plum, blackberry, mocha, cedar, graphite, with a hint of sous bois and pipe tobacco. The palate is rich and concentrated with dark berries, blueberry, Damson plum, cacao, and leather on the finish. An exceptional wine that is showing beautifully now and will only gain further complexity over the next decade and beyond. Enjoy with Matambre (Argentinian stuffed flank steak), with optional Chimichurri sauce – a fantastic pairing!"

92 points -Vic Harradine, Wine Enthusiast

"This is rich luscious and brimming with flavour. There are dark berry fruit, graphite and charred/tarry aromas galore on the nose. A dense, lively gusher of tang-laden flavour coats the palate carried on flavours of piquant spice, luscious black cherry, cassis, racy pie cherry and notions of minerality. It’s full bodied, full flavoured and full of charm complemented by a lingering finish that’s fruit forward and nicely balanced." 

90 points - Michael Vaughn, Vintage Assessments

"Extremely deep intense purple colour. Intense, rich, ripe plum-cassis nose with some refined cedary notes. Dry, medium-full bodied, well structured,dense, intense, ripe warm Damson plum-cherry-cassis flavours with a lingering, gently cedary, fairly high acid finish. Has 14% alcohol and 4 g/L residual sugar with lot number L172071728 on the back label."

90-points / BEST BUY - Tony Aspler, Vintage Assessments

"Cedary, spicy, plum and dark chocolate nose; medium-bodied, dry, fruity."

90 points - David Lawrason, winealign.com


"From a single estate in the Altamira region of the Uco Valley, this is a quite fragrant, complex malbec with lifted currant/berry fruit, thyme, sweet oak and spice. It is generous, lively, salty and peppery on the palate. Quite energetic, fairly refined, with excellent length. There is still considerable dusty tannin so age it a year or three."

Tasted November 2017

90 points - Michael Godel, winealign.com


"SonVida is Sonia and David, of course, journalists and lovers, of malbec and Mendoza. Their malbec comes from the fantastic Paraje Altamira, a place of great altitude (1029 masl) and it shows in the mountain tea aromatics. Certainly reserved, reductive and not even close to showy (yet) but the dusty and savoury nature of the gariga and tea leaf nose get you wondering, postulating and even meditating. In fact it's still wound so taut (and it's 2013) that the palate acts chalky, of fruit variegated into stone with some unresolved volatility and tannin. This is a fascinating wine in need of three more years time for the spiciness to devolve and the spice notes to evolve, eventually to emerge. Drink 2019-2023."

Tasted November 2017.