Origin: Apóstales, Misiones, Argentina – Lot 280
Producer: La Cachuera S.A.
Cut: Classical Argentine
Grown: USDA Organic
Sometimes “tradition” can be a killer of innovation and progress. When I sip this latest release of Amanda, a top Argentine producer, I can’t help but think…here we go again, another safe mate where risks were averted and tradition was safely secured. You’d think that with all the clout the Argentine mate industry has over the global market, there’d be more badass powermoves being taken with taste profiles, textures, blends, something! Anything!
Argentina still reigns supreme in the mate world, but when it comes to exploring craft mate, they’re stuck in the Stone Age.
Okay, maybe I’m venting a bit. This is a mate review, after all. But anyone that knows me, my over 8 years of history with mate — and how I go about profiling a brand — knows that I never just look at the actual taste of the mate. No sir buddy. I study the larger image and philosophy of the company, brand, messaging, everything.
Quite frankly, I’m tired of seeing so many Argentine brands play it safe, safe, safe. Very few take a leap of faith and break molds. Amanda is a reputable brand, sure. And this Organic version of their classical Argentine mate is solid. But therein lies the greater issue: it’s “solid.” There are no quirks, deviations or oddities. Nothing to really say “wow, okay now… now we have something different!”
La Rubia from Paraguay screams sour-cherry-tobacco; Cabral from Brazil is like a floral stew; Cruz de Malta speaks of rich earth; and Kraus Organic with its distinct wine-like fruity features. All these brands have a voice and something that says “hey, look at me!” Amanda, on the other hand, has always played it safe with earthbound, banal, secure flavor profiles. This organic release is no different.
With that said, I am pleased to see another USDA Certified Organic mate enter the market. Excellent! We need more of them, especially as the Argentine mate industry continues to consolidate with the top few companies taking a greater slurp of the gourd. For contrast, this mate falls short when compared to Aguantadora which at least has a personality, albeit a calm and collected one.
For blending purposes or for someone looking to start sipping without any of the piercing bitterness and muscular earthy tones, as found in La Tranquera and Cruz de Malta respectively, this is a good option to explore — but good is the enemy of great. It’s safe, soft, mildly floral, some minerality with tones of chalk, stones, steel. In a word, it’s unremarkable.