Golden Grove Estate Granite Belt Malbec 2016

I tasted a series of wines from Queensland’s Granite Belt back in 2013, with some mixed results. Golden Grove had one of the better wines on that tasting and this same producer has fashioned quite a pleasant and stylistically typical malbec here. Dark fruited, chocolatey and full bodied, this is a good example of a malbec and is approachable now. Rating: Good. Abv: 14.5%. Price: $28. Website:

Zuccardi Q Valle de Uco Malbec Argentina 2016

Valle de Uco is southwest of Mendoza in Argentina, and is favourably regarded.  This particular malbec provides a contrast to the Cahors rendition just reviewed.  Quite deeply coloured in the glass, it has an aroma of sweet cooked fruit, herbs and oak.  The palate is jammy and savoury, with overlays of baked spices and meats, fresh acidity and a full body.  Ready to drink now, this is a fruit driven and approachable wine.  Rating: Good. Abv: 14%. Price: $27. Website: na.

Château du Cèdre Héritage Cahors Malbec 2015

This is a good malbec from Cahors in south western France.  Less deeply coloured and fruity than its equivalents in Argentina, it has restrained aromas of red berries, earth, herbs and oak.  The palate is earthy and savoury, with liquorice overtones.  Some mid weight tannins and good length complete the picture.  This wine can be approached now and represents good value at this price.  Rating: Good. Abv: 13%. Price: $28. Website:

Osoyoos Larose Le Grand Vin Okanagan Valley 2014

This is the best Osoyoos Larose that I have tasted to date.  From Canada’s Okanagan Valley, it is a Bordeaux style blend that is serious in both intent and impression.  The 2014 vintage is a blend of 68% merlot, 11% cabernet franc, 8% cabernet sauvignon, 8% petit verdot and 5% malbec.  There are typical “cabernet” blackcurrant and leaf characters that are very restrained, youthful and elegant.  The length is long.  A first class release that can be consumed now, but will benefit from a decade in the cellar.  Rating: Very Good. Abv: 13.5%. Price: ~C$45. 

Valle Las Acequias Malbec Oak 2011

I’ve reviewed the 2010 vintage of this wine previously.  The label of the 2011 vintage tasted here persists with describing its wine as “Malbec Oak”, which strikes me as an unusual description.  Unexpectedly then, I felt the 2011 vintage of this wine didn’t stylistically feature much oak influence.  In the glass, the 2011 is rather simple, with an expression of blackberries and currants.   (Region: Mendoza, Argentina, Rating: Acceptable, Would I buy it based on this tasting? No, Drink: now, Tasted: Jan, 2017)

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Other vintages reviewed:

Vintage Rating Review

Layer Cake Malbec 2015

The 2015 vintage of Layer Cake’s malbec presents as very ripe in style, with distinctive fruit cake aromatics.  The palate is primary in expression, very sweet fruited and somewhat unconvincing.  (Region: Mendoza, Argentina, Rating: Acceptable, Would I buy it based on this tasting? No, Drink: now, Tasted: Jan, 2017)

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Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) and Nicolas Cantena Amancaya Gran Reserva Malbec Cabernet 2013

This wine from Mendoza in Argentina is made by a joint venture between Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) and the Catena family in Mendoza.  It’s a resounding success.  The blend is 60-70% malbec and 30-40% cabernet sauvignon, and sees a restrained 20% new oak.  In the glass, the wine is full bodied, with blackcurrant aromas and flavours, a gorgeous texture and long length.  Yes.  (Region: Mendoza, Argentina, Rating: Very Good, Drink: now to 2027)

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Other vintages reviewed:


Back at the desk; Clos de los Siete 2013

Well, I’m back at the desk having returned from a couple of weeks abroad in British Columbia in Canada.  It was not a wine trip, but naturally I could not help wanting to look in on some of the wines of this remarkable continent, north and south.  I’ve written on these pages previously in praise of the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia, and my high level observation remains that these wines continue to surprise with their quality and value.  I also stumbled across more diversity in styles from Mendoza in Argentina, with some wines missing the mark through undue austerity (chasing the trend?) or simplicity, while others seemed to have reached a new level of refinement.

The first wine is the 2013 vintage of Clos de Los Siete from Mendoza.  I did not record proportions and their website is silent on this current release, but I expect it is a malbec dominant blend, seasoned with merlot, cabernet sauvignon, syrah and petit verdot.  In other words, a Bordeaux blend in concept applied to what suits Mendoza.  Smart really.  In the glass, the 2013 vintage presents in a very classical style – a claret like wine, with a medium bodied expression.  The palate is nuanced by cherry flavours and some grip.  A yes from me.  (Region: Mendoza, Argentina, Rating: Good to Very Good, Drink: now to 2023)

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Other vintages reviewed: 

Vintage Rating Review
Good to Very Good

Vina Cobos Lujan de Cuyo Malbec 2013

One of the things I like about wine is just when you think you are getting to grips with the wines and styles of particular regions, you are reminded that there are regions and possibly whole countries which produce wine where frankly more work is required. Observations such as these require some pause for thought in my consideration of the MW programme. Lujan de Cuyo (the wine here) for example is a sub region of Mendoza in Argentina where the grapes are grown around 1000 metres of altitude in a rain shadow of the Andes. Of course, what else could it be?

This wine presents as a typical Mendoza malbec but better than most.  Deeply coloured it has aromatics of cedar, mulberry, dark chocolate and plum. The oak is initially prominent, but not with air. The palate has good length, a nice texture and a soft and round middle palate.  I’d drink this again. 
Rating: Very Good
Price: $50
Abv: 15%
Tasted: 2016