Argentinian Malbec: A dream of spring

Vineyards in Argentina.

Fifty degrees in February and I can’t help but think that it’s already summer in parts of the world right now, like Argentina. My Mediterranean genes are yearning for some Vitamin D… and some good wine.

I fell in love with Argentina a few years back when I tagged along on a friend’s trip on a last minute whim. I was happy I did. I quickly realized that the country that brought us tango had a lot more to offer, especially for my palette. Argentineans are stylish, passionate, romantic, smooth and soulful… and they like their wine the same way.

Visiting wineries in Mendoza, Argentina’s wine country, had me contemplating giving up city life to be one with the vineyards. It didn’t help that I was nursing a broken heart on that trip, but that’s where the unlimited wine supply came in to play just at the right time. Argentina, I will forever be grateful to you…

Mendoza’s landscape is sublime. The snow capped Andes mountains in the distant background gave way to dry acres of elevated soil home to some of the finest vineyards in the southern hemisphere. The air was fresh and the natural surroundings were inviting to any visitor, wine enthusiast or not.

The nostalgia from that trip has me drinking Malbec this week, one of my favorite reds and Argentina’s most popular. Mendel Malbec 2008 is a great example of why Argentina’s wines have gained much recognition in the last decade.

This Malbec is not shy about its immediate presence of oak on the nose. At first glance I am drawn to the dark purple hue and I notice the perfect set of legs it leaves on my glass, indicating the higher alcohol content (14%). It’s medium to full bodied on the mouth and dry, with lots of layered jammy fruit. Plum, blackberry, a bit of black cherry and even some raisin. Malbec ripens later than a Merlot for example, and requires more sun & heat hence the jammy flavors and darker color.

There is some spice like pepper and an earthiness to the wine, with a smoky tobacco hint as well, a result of being aged 12 months in French oak. There is ample tannin in the wine which makes me want to put a bottle or two on the side and drink it in a year or so to see how it has softened. The finish is long, but not as smooth as I would prefer in a Malbec. In summary, it’s overall a great red wine with balance that is hearty enough to stand up to the finest Churrasco steak.

You can tango on down to Royal Wine Merchants at 13 South Williams Street in the Financial District and pick this up for $30. The owner was very knowledgeable and provided a family background on the producer which made this week’s purchase feel a bit more personal. Next week, I’ll continue reminiscing about Argentina when I review its great white, Torrontes.


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