Saturday, April 28, 2012

Report from ... Celebrating World Malbec Day the Wine Writers Way - April 17, 2012

The wines tasted on Malbec Day
It is, or now was, World Malbec Day; a day to celebrate Argentina's signature wine grape.  A number of interested parties assembled at 580 King Street to listen about and taste a number of Argentinean wines ... including many Malbecs.

The seminar opened with fellow wine writer David Lawrason making some remarks he on his most recent trip to Argentina ... these were based on some assumptions he had made before leaving and what information he gathered while he was away:
1) Argentina is all about Malbec ... not true, there are plenty of other wines being made, the big challenge is to market those other grape varieties so that they are not taken as a "Johnny One Note".
2) All Argentina reds are cuddly, soft and smooth ... that perception did not change but there are changes afoot; but still ripe red wines are king.
3) Very little regional difference ... another perception that is changing but slowly, there are very few wines labelled with sub-app instead hanging onto the bigger geographical areas like Mendoza.
4) Argentinean wines represent good value ... this is true and across all prices; for better or worse FuZion set that mark; best values are in the $18-30 range
5) Argentinean whites don't matter ... stylistically its up to you; but there are plenty of whites being made.

The Panel

Two Argentine principals joined the panel (I did not catch their last names) ... one named Andreas, the other Victor:

Andreas comments ...
The Argentinean wine industry transformed in the 19th Century because of immigration of the Spanish, Italians and Portuguese.   Although much of the wines were drank domestically in the 1990s they (as an industry) needed to compete in the world market ...and because of their strong currency they have been able to invest in modern equipment, so that there are many big modern wineries in Argentina these days; and plenty of foreign investment is coming in: Moet established their first winery outside of France in Argentina.
Argentina is currently the 5th largest producer and 7th in exports ... 80% of the wines are still consumed domestically. The US, Canada, and Brazil account for 55% of exports (in order).

Victor ... filled in some of the blanks that Andreas left:
More than 70 countries take part in Malbec world day
Mendoza is the #1 region because of the 5 rivers that cross into the region
1/3 of all grapes are currently estate grown - the rest are in the hands of 8000 growers with an average holding of 20 hec

"The Loft" at 580 King
Quick Argentine Facts ...
Growing region is North - South:  26-42 degrees latitude but the real difference is the east-west altitude.
Mendoza is the oldest most historic regions with the oldest vines

Wine Regions to Look out For ...
Lujan... more classical style of wines - the Napa of Arg
Maipu ... more full bodied, riper and less acid
Uco ... important new region, where modern Argentina is happening
San Carlos ... is grouped into the Uco with new and best wines coming
Patagonia ... currently more fruit than grapes but that is changing.

The Wines of Note ...
Trapiche Sparkling Extra Brut ($11.95) ... pleasant, charmat method, good for the price ... has 70% Chardonnay, 20% Semillon, 10% Malbec (***+)

Domino Del Plata 2011 ‘Crios’ Torrentes ($14.95)  floral and hints of spice, long finish (*** ½+)

Santa Ana 2010 ‘La Mascota’ Chardonnay’ ($14.95) ... buttery with hints of vanilla, lovely peach with vanilla caramel sauce, touch of spice and acidity on the finish; really sweet fruit (*** ½)

Zuccardi 2009 ‘Q’ Malbec ($19.95) ... chocolate, blackberry, black cherry on the nose; palate has plenty of black cherry and spice (*** ½)

Rutini 2009 Malbec ($21.95) ... soft nose that hints at red berries, milk chocolate, and candied fruit, it follows on the palate, minus the chocolate with fine chalky tannins (*** ½)

Familia Schroeder 2009 Saurus Barrel Fermented Malbec ($25.00) ... touch floral and herbal with sweet blackberry and black cherry; not much of a nose to speak of but quite full in the mouth, sweet and juicy; candied red fruit on the mid-palate (*** ½+)

Kaiken 2010 Ultra Malbec ($19.95) ... soft and juicy, very blackberry with hints of chocolate notes, black cherry on the finish (*** ½+)

Colome 2010 Malbec Estate ($27.95) ... lovely blackberry, red cherry, milk chocolate on the nose; red cherry liqueur, chocolate, silky tannins, dark and red fruit mix with a little spice and some peppered notes (****)

Manos Negras 2008 Pinot Noir ($14.95) ... aromas of candied strawberry with a hint of raspberry; light fruity, cherry and strawberry, a little bit of fine tannin but not aggressive, this could be a patio Pinot to chill and bring out the red fruit and well priced for just that purpose (*** ½)

Graffigna 2008 Grand Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon ($16.95) ... full bodied black fruit, hints of dark chocolate, tannins dominate on the finish with fits of spice and red fruit on the finish, this really has nice flavour (****+)

Trivento 2008 Golden Reserve Syrah ($22.00) ... white pepper and red berries with a touch of violets; white pepper and red fruit does come through on the palate, there's a nice smoothness about this wine then it rears up at the end with the re-birth of pepper and spice, but pleasantly so (****)

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