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Community Tasting Notes (average 4 notes) - and median of 89 pts. in hiding notes with no text
| ||Tasted by wwetmore on 5/11/2008: Dark, almost inky malbec, with a robust nose of plum, black cherry, current and oak spice. A burst of oak spice hits during the attack, thinning slightly, then ending in a remarkable black liquorice finish. The fruit is much less noticeable than the wood. Tannins are fairly mild. There is not a lot of depth, but the spices are engaging, particularly on the finish. Plum is the most prominent fruit element and makes itself known on the finish as well. It rounds out some with time in the glass, achieving a much better integration throughout. This is a quality malbec, even if I would prefer a little more fruit on the palate. (883 views)|
| ||Tasted by JWP on 3/3/2008 & rated 89 points: A rich, full-bodied, deep purple Malbec, strong tannins create a feast for the palette with a strong, long-lasting finish. (879 views)|
Bodega Catena Zapata Producer website
Malbec Varietal character (Appellation America)
One of the traditional “Bordeaux varietals”, Malbec has characteristics that fall somewhere between Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. A midseason ripener, it can bring very deep color, ample tannin, and a particular plum-like flavor component to add complexity to claret blends. Malbec is a finicky vine whose fruit is prone to rot and mildew in the cool, damp coastal climate of Bordeaux. But ask a Bordelais grower why there’s no Malbec around, and you’ll more likely get a dismissive shrug and sniff than a viticultural analysis. It is known in much of France as Côt, and, in Cahors, also as Auxerrois. There are in fact hundreds of local synonyms, since Malbec at one time was widely planted all over the country. Sensitivity to frost and proclivity to shatter or coulure (a disease that results in premature fruit drop) is the primary reason that Malbec has become a decreasing factor in most of France. Although plantings in the Medoc have decreased by over twothirds since the mid-twentieth century, Malbec is now the dominant red varietal in the Cahors area. The Appellation Controlée regulations for Cahors require a minimum content of 70%. Malbec is also planted in Chile, and there’s relatively little and recent acreage in California and Australia. It is usually blended with other red varietals in these countries. But Malbec truly comes into its own in Argentina, where it is the major red varietal planted. Much of the Malbec vines there were transplanted from Europe prior to the outbreak of phylloxera and most is therefore ungrafted, on its own roots. Sadly, over the years the bug infested Argentina, too, and vineyards are being replanted on resistant rootstock. Happily, the vines thrive in the arid climate of the Mendoza region in the foothills of the Andes. Made in the context of this South American nation’s Spanish and Italian heritage, it produces a delicious wine that has almost nothing in common with Bordeaux except the color. Argentines often spell it “Malbeck” and make wines from it that are slightly similar in flavor to those made in Europe, but with softer, lusher structure, more like New World Merlot. Another difference is that where French examples are usually considered short-lived, Argentine Malbecs seem to age fairly well. Successful Argentine Malbec growers claim that, in order to develop full maturity and distinction, Malbec needs “hang time” even after sugar levels indicate ripeness. Otherwise, immature Malbec can be very “green” tasting, without its characteristic notes of plum and anise. Malbec in Argentina has come to be appreciated for a spicy white pepper characteristic, the aroma of violets, and sweet, jammy fruit. It is a seductive wine that is typically warm and generous in the mouth, with plenty of flesh, and very appealing when young. Almost always producing a ripe and fruity, even plummy wine, Malbec can take oak aging or show well without it; it’s juicy and quaffable when young but can benefit from aging, developing an intriguing complexity with time in the bottle. It can range in price from as little as $7 to more than $75. The true potential of Argentine Malbec, and indeed in the entire spectrum of Argentine wines, is demonstrated by the fact that many of the world’s most renowned winemakers have come to Argentina to make wine. Both the legendary California winemaker Paul Hobbs, and Michel Rolland of Bordeaux, one of the world’s most famous winemakers, have created very high-end Malbecs. It may be the Italian component in the country’s mixed Latin family tree that fosters the fact that Malbec is an exceptional companion with a broad range of food. Its well-balanced fruit-and-acid profile makes it a natural with rare beef (bear in mind that Argentina is cattle country), but it’s just as good with simple fare from burgers to fried chicken. With its natural balance, good pairings include: cajun cuisine, calzones, cannelloni with meat, poultry, vegetable couscous, steak creole, Greek cuisine, deviled eggs, hummus, Indian cuisine, leg of lamb, Mexican cuisine with meat, pâté, spinach soufflé, and hearty pasta. For cheeses, think of harder styles that are either waxed or oiled, such as Parmigiano Reggiano, Ricotta Salata, Romano, Asiago, Pont l’Eveque, Gruyere, Manchego, Cantal, Comte, old Gouda, old Cheddar, Baulderstone, Beaufort, Leicester, aged Chesire, Chevre Noir, Wensleydale, Tilsit, Iberico, Mahon, Roncal, and Mizithra.
Argentina Wines of Argentina
Argentina has been making wine since the 1500s, tracing its wine heritage back to Spain, France and, perhaps surprisingly, Italy. Italian immigration is second only to Spanish in Argentine culture, and the flavors of Italy show up strongly in the nation’s wine, food and cultural tradition. Historically, Argentina has kept much of its wine consumption at home, drinking most of the wine it makes. But we are now seeing more very serious Argentine wines north of the border, and Malbec is leading the movement. The wine-making region in Argentina ranges between the 22° and 42° South latitude. It spreads at the foothills of the Andean mountain range along over 2,400 km; from the province of Salta to the province of Río Negro, with a variety of climates and soils that makes each region a unique land. In general terms, the areas dedicated to vine cultivation are dry and arid with a low level of rain and humidity, determining factor as regards grape health. Abundant sunny days and thermal amplitude favor a good maturity and concentration of aroma and color in the grain. Soils are deep, permeable and poor in organic matter, decisive qualities at the time of obtaining good wine. Due to the low rain regime, irrigation is necessary. Water comes from the Andean range thaw, descending in the shape of rivers to become channels or ditches. Undoubtedly, the combination of these factors turns Argentina into a veritable oasis for the highest quality wine-making. Nevertheless, there is still a long way to go. Wine-making in Argentina, at the level that it achieves today, has a young history that goes back to a little more than 10 years ago. Technological progress, investment and some farsighted businessmen enabled a determining transformation. The province of Mendoza is the most traditional area in the viticultural industry, and is diverse enough to be divided into zones, according to their significantly different weather, height and soil characteristics. These include the Northern Zone, which is suitable for fruity whites and young reds, at a height from 600 to 700m; the Eastern Zone, with a height ranging from 600 to 700m, and the most productive zone in the province; the Uco Valley, a zone of colder weather and higher altitudes (between 800 and 1,400m over sea level); San Rafael, with heights ranging from 450 to 800m; and the High Zone of the Mendoza River, with heights ranging from 800 to 1,100m over sea level and various microclimates, this is the zone where almost all noble varieties have easily become adapted. It is a region that is remarkably well-suited to vine culture, protected from the Pacific’s cooling influence by the Andes and enjoying a long summer of cool nights and warm days, with a dry summer climate but plenty of water available from the region’s rivers. Malbec in particular is outstanding from this area, and it has clearly emerged as the star, the darling of both consumers and critics.
Mendoza Wines of Mendoza