Archive for May, 2009

May 2009: Argentine Malbec

TC_May 09_Argentine Malbec_bottlesArgentine Malbec is known for its rich, dark fruit flavors with hints of leather, cigar smoke, even tar and then a nice tannic finish. This tasting was requested by customer who is a big fan of Malbec and was interested in knowing what the panel thought about these wines.  This tasting was much more narrow in scope than previous tastings.  These wines are all the same grape, from the same region, and the retail prices range from $12 to $24 (except for the Catena Alta $60), so there wasn’t a vast difference in the market value of the wines.  The rankings reflect that to some degree.  The only concern that we had was the low ranking of the Catena, a jewel of a wine that consistently gets good rankings in national reviews.  During the tasting, there was some concern that the wine was slightly off.  Retasting it again at the end of the tasting, it was a different wine, having opened beautifully.  After some discussion, we left it in the lineup, but clearly, this particular bottle does not reflect its true drinking experience.  Jens Strecker, owner of Portalis Wine Shop + Wine Bar in Ballard, loves this wine and is going to pour it by the glass at the bar … so that you can decide for yourself.

EXCELLENT (90-94 points)

Andeluna 2006 Malbec Reserva (91 points)
Region: Mendoza, Argentina; Retail $28/Sale $23
Wonderful black currant aromas. Licorice and black cherry on the palate. Pleasant acidity and undertones of smoke with vanilla. (Gina) Rich red. Very intense nuances of blueberries and black currant. Very distinct powerful notes of stewed cherries and rhubarb. This wine reminds me of my first time with Bandol. (Giuseppe)

Catena 2005 Malbec Alta (90 points)  
Region: Mendoza, Argentina; Retail $60
Blackberry with spice of clove. Medium body. Light richness ot the palate. Tannins are bolder, making finish long-lasting. (Theresa) Is there a Bordeaux varietal(s) in this wine? Deep spicy chocolate truffle nose. Really clear and focused on the palate, great finish. (Joel)

Luigi Bosca 2006 Malbec Reserva (90 points)
Region: Mendoza, Argentina; Retail $23
Nice fruit tannin balance, tea leaf and a hint on espresso on the nose. Thick on the palate, tar, blackberries, prune/cassis. (Chris) Aromas of sweet berries and coconut. Well-balanced, elegant, round and complex. Beautiful fruit on the mid-palate. Lot of blueberries, sweet prunes with some coffee notes. Fine tannins on the finish. (Jens) [or maybe not …] Holy sulfur! Definitely can’t get past the sulfur on the nose. (Does JJ Prüm make Malbec?) Too lean on the palate, but nice mellow plum and bing cherry notes. (Joel) Cloudy red. Notes of sulfur on the nose with rosemary and mint on the end. Rich on the palate with good mouthfeel. (Giuseppe)

Xumek 2007 Malbec (90 points)  
Region: Mendoza, Argentina; Retail $18
Noticeable sulfur on the nose. Road tar and sweet blackberry cobbler on the palate. (Joel) Astringent greenness on the nose – edge of green pepper. Not green on the palate – much richer on the fruit. Velvety texture with good acidity. (Theresa)

VERY GOOD (86-89 points)
Mil Piedras 2007 Malbec (88 points)

Region: Mendoza, Argentina; Retail $14
Nose very closed. I get a little perfumy flowers (violets). Very quaffable. Smooth, silky fruit (raspberries, tart cherry). A great BBQ/party wine. Nothing too offensive except it lacks complexity. (Gina) A touch of stinky cheese on the nose, thin, simple, stemmy, a touch of fruit (blueberries) on the back palate. (Chris)

Nieto 2007 Malbec Reserva (88 points)  
Region: Mendoza, Argentina; Retail $13
Wonderful aromas of sweet blueberries and plums. Very smooth, elegant. Complex & concentrated. Good acidity. Well-balanced. Excellent flavors of blueberries with notes of coffee and espresso. Nice long finish. (Jens) Meaty nose – cured meat, blackberry. Classic tar & leather on the palate. Rich, velvety black fruits. Could you be Terrazas? (Gina)

Benegas 2005 Malbec (87 points)
Region: Mendoza, Argentina; Retail $23
Color – dark purple, black center. Aromas: ripe blackberry. Cooked fruit. Chewy berry with smoky notes on the finish. Hints of cedar & chocolate on finish. (Gina) Blue & black fruit on the nose, though aromatics are rather muted. Bits of granite and slate in the background. Boysenberry fruit on the palate with stewed plum fruit on the finish. (Theresa) Alcoholic, eucalyptus and pine needles. Huge tannins. (Chris)
Finca Sophenia 2006 Altosur Malbec (87 points) 
Region: Mendoza, Argentina; Retail $12
Southern Italy on the nose (like Negroamaro or Primitivo). Black fruits, soft tannins and noticeable oak on the palate. Tart fruit on the finish. (Joel) Syrupy raspberry & blackberry fruit on the nose. The sweetness does not translate to the palate which is nice, well-balanced with bright acidity. A basketful of red & blue fruit. (Theresa)

Terrazas 2006 Malbec (87 points)
Region: Mendoza, Argentina; Retail $21
Pure fruit on the nose, brambleberry, raspberry, weightier on the palate than expected, violets, acids and minerality on the finish. (Chris) Nice aromas of dark fruit, followed by bright dark fruit, blackberries and boysenberries. Good acidity. A little bit tart. (Jens) 

GOOD (80-85 points)
Catena 2006 Malbec (84 points)
Region: Mendoza, Argentina; Retail $24
Deep dark ruby red. Flavors of black olives, mixed berries. A bit out of balance but interesting nuances. Layers and layers of berry pie. It could use some more time in the bottle. Would like to see it how it develops in the next 5 years. (Giuseppe) Smells slightly off tone. Light cork perhaps? (Gina)

The following wines are in-stock or can be ordered at the following local wine shops:

Portalis Wine Shop + Wine Bar
phone: 206-783-2007

Tasting Panel:  Jens Strecker, Gina Gregory, Theresa Slechta, Giuseppe Carrauro, Chris Nishiwaki, Joel Nicholas (Guest Taster)

Joel Nicholas of K&L Wine Merchants in Los Angeles, with partner Annika Keller, at the Malbec tasting on May 12, 2009

Joel Nicholas of K&L Wine Merchants in Los Angeles, with partner Annika Keller, at the Malbec tasting on May 12, 2009


May 20, 2009 at 7:57 pm Leave a comment