Malbecs and Blends
Up until last Saturday I didn’t have any wines from Argentina in my cellar, but after a tasting of Malbecs and Blends at Vintage Wines in San Diego I now have few bottles.
The theme of the Saturday tastings at Vintage changes each week, and at $5/person it is a cheap way to sample wines that you might not otherwise buy. Plus if you pack a few nibbles (cheese, nuts, bread etc) it can turn out to be an enjoyable hour or two.
I try to taste the wines single blind (I know what the theme is but not the wines) to reduce any influence of labels and price. The notes that follow are the order in which the wines were served and I have added the identity of the wines.
2005 Catena Zapata Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina (13.5%) $14.99USD
Dark cherry red with red edge. Attractive spicy aromatics infused with mulberry and toasty oak. Soft and supple entry with fine tannins and nice flavor carry that is enhanced by a meaty note. Nice wine. 2, 2, 3.6, 9.5=17.1/20, 86/100.
2006 Achaval-Ferrer Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina (13.5%) $16.99USD
Dark cherry red with red edge. Most expressive of the wines with pronounced spices (cinnamon, and nutmeg) together with notes of apricot and (almost) orange zest; I could have been fooled into thinking this very ripe Pinot Noir. Fuller bodied and nicely balanced with firm tannins, juicy acidity and excellent flavor carry onto a lengthy finish. 2, 2, 3.9, 9.7=17.6/20, 88/100.
2005 Mendel Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina (13.9%) $19.99USD
Dark cherry red with red edge. Very closed - some dusty, toasty oak and mocha. A full bodied wine with firm tannins but muted flavor carry onto the palate. The mouthfeel of the wine is impressive belying good structural components but it will need time to realize its potential. There is also a hint of alcohol. 2, 2, 3.4, 9.3=16.7/20, 84/100.
2006 Vina Cobos El Felino Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina (14.7%) $13.99USD
Dark cherry red with red edge. A pleasing mix of spices, dark fruit and oak. Full bodied with a soft and supple entry, and impressive depth and concentration across the palate. Excellent carry of flavors onto the palate and a lengthy finish. Very nice wine. 2, 2, 4.0, 10.0=18.0/20, 90/100.
2005 Mendel “Unus”, Red Blend (65% Malbec/35% Cabernet) (14.0%) $37.99USD
Dark cherry red with just a hint of orange/brown at the edge. Another closed wine with just the faintest hints of violets, and beeswax. Full bodied and with excellent mouthfeel supported by very firm tannins and bright acidity. There is trace of flavor carry onto the palate but this is another wine that will need some time to strut its stuff. 2, 2, 3.3, 9.9=17.2/20, 86/100
2003 Lindaflor “Petite Fleur”, (Malbec/Merlot/Syrah) (14.5%) $15.99USD
Still note sure of the makeup of this wine but it is from the Monteviejo stable (and I believe Mendoza).
The most deeply colored wine but the faint orange/brown edge indicates some age. Rich and ripe with plum, mulberry, spices and a meaty note; I was thinking Shiraz at this point. Full bodied and almost sweet on the palate (alcohol?). Firm tannins, well constructed with excellent flavor carry onto a lengthy finish. If it is old, it has years left. 2, 2, 4.1, 10.0=18.1/20, 91/100.
The wines, with the exception of the Mendel’s, were excellent value and attractive drinking now although most could do with 2-5 years in the cellar. The two wines from Mendel deserved more praise because they had excellent structural qualities but they are simply too closed at present to offer any real aromatic pleasures. I was not surprised that I favored the two higher alcohol wines, Lindaflor and the El Felino. They are both very approachable (and cheese and nut friendly). My wife and mother-in-law both preferred the Catena because of its freshness (acidity) and appealing flavors. So I bought them a couple of bottles!
If you want more information on these and other Argentinean wines follow this link to the Wines of Argentina – unfortunately its not all in English.