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)
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)
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)
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)
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.
Here is a roundup of a few South American wines tasted abroad. These wines continue to impress. Most are available in Australia, with the honourable exception of the first one. Naturally, of course, that is the wine that I would most wish to buy.
Clos de los Siete Mendoza 2011, Argentina This is another good release from Clos de Los Siete by Michel Rolland. A blend of 56% malbec, 14% merlot, 12% cabernet sauvignon, 12% syrah, 4% cabernet franc and 2% petit verdot, it is perhaps more simply summarised by identifying the red grape varieties that are not in the blend. Its aromatics remind of dark cherry, licorice and well handled cedar and spice characters. A ripe impression is given, without crossing the line. The palate is balanced, full bodied, with smooth and rounded length. It is filled in by dark cherry and plum characters. A delicious wine. Rating: Good to Very Good, Abv: 14.5%, Price: C$25, Vendors: http://www.wine-searcher.com/, Website: http://www.closdelossiete.com/en/, Tasted: 2015
Valle Las Acequias “Malbec Oak” Mendoza 2010. Argentina A 100% malbec from 85 year old wines is a good start. The wine though is described as “Malbec Oak 2010”, which sends a rather odd signal. The back label continues the theme, describing its flavour as “Strong tannins, sweet and gentle thanks to the contact with the Oak“. That’s a capital “O” for oak. So, should the consumer expect a lot of oak in this wine? Should I be worried if it didn’t say oak? There is pride in this oak. In the glass, for the record, the oak was handled well. The rest of the wine though is a bit “dry reddish”, by which I mean it is pleasant enough although it could have been any old red in the glass. Aromatics of blackberry jam, and a balanced palate and medium length complete the picture.
Los Vascos Grand Reserve Colchagua 2011, Chile I found this a bit of a disappointing Los Vascos Grand Reserve from the Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) stable, an estate I otherwise hold in high regard. It has that typical Chilean tomato stalk nose (terroir, oak regime or something else, I am not sure?), supplemented in this case by a pongy, sweaty character. The palate is balanced, if somewhat formless. Only an average wine, I am afraid.
Norton Privada Mendoza 2011, Argentina Another blend from a South American producer, which suits me rather well. This time malbec, merlot and cabernet sauvignon. This is one of those good well made wines, although the alcohol on the label (as opposed to its impression in the glass) is getting up there. Aromatics of blackberry, ripe plums and plum jam. A palate that is balanced and a textural fruit driven finish. A good wine.
Almost as black as oil in the glass, this Argentinian malbec is a flavour saturated and hearty introduction to Argentinian malbec. It is a rather joyous and unrestrained wine that demands a fat steak as its companion, at a time when many wine cognoscenti would permit only wines that are elegant and finessed, notwithstanding these are terroir specific notions and thus, if listened to, would consign probably most of the world’s wine regions to a sort of perpetual also ran status.
The aromatics of the Kaiken malbec remind of licorice and those dribbling ultra ripe blackberries that you strain to reach at the top of the blackberry bush in full sun. The palate is a little clumsier with the oak influence evident, and powdery wood tannins cloaking the length of the wine. It is otherwise a full bodied affair, full of ripe and meaty blackberry fruit. I find myself wondering whether it would age. Probably yes, is the answer, although the practical suggestion is to drink now. For the price, this wine deservedly will have many fans.
The weight of this bottle is, well, normal. This is unexpected for malbec from Mendoza, where usually I require reinforcements to be called in to lift the bottle beyond my ankles. The wine inside has aromatics of clove, anise, dark plum, gravel and plum skins. There’s balance, wild blackberry and game characters on the palate. It almost comes together as something more, and is enjoyable drinking.
Clos de Los Siete is a French joint venture in Mendoza in Argentina with the wines made by famous Bordeaux consultant Michel Rolland. The only continent he seems not to consult on is Australia(!), but I say this in the hope that someone may know whether that is in fact the case… The 2009 vintage from Clos de los Siete is a good wine, with aromatics of blackberry and pencil shavings. The palate sees plums and deli meats added to these two, with fine grained tannins and medium length. Overall, this is a reasonably serious wine that will reward your interest.
I reviewed the 2009 vintage of this blend from Norton the other day, and the 2010 vintage is pretty good too. A blend of malbec, merlot and cabernet sauvignon from Mendoza in Argentina, there are aromatics of red plum, spice and blueberry. The palate has a medium length finish with reminders of plum and black cherry. This is a very balanced and drinkable wine that is ready to drink now. Good