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The Journey of Malbec

Posted in Uncategorized by EVWG on the June 1st, 2006

vini_r1_c1.pngI haven’t tried many malbec wines and when I have tried them it has been in restaurants and I have often struggled to find the wonderful nuances this grape has to offer. Maybe I just haven’t ordered the right vintage or the right producer. I have always had a feeling though that when I found the right one it would be enjoyable. Last night after some intense dialogue and experimentation I think I found it. It was time to pop the Altos Las Hormigas Malbec Reserva 2004. This wine took us on a journey of flavor and aroma. At first we just poured a little in the glass, as is par for the course when tasting a wine. Just put a taste in the glass, agitate it a bit, coat the inside and stick your nose down in there and get a good initial whiff. Then swirl it a bit more, sniff a couple more times and take that first sip.
The first nose was a bit unpleasant and I couldn’t quite place it. My tasting partner, we’ll call him Gal, hit it on the nose, if you will. He said it smelled like metal. Whether it was the power of suggestion or not on my next whiff I was hit with metal. The good thing was that I was noticing some promising things going on in the first palate. Even though the metal was a bit overwhelming I could definitely sense that there were better things to come. The tannin structure was quite soft and berries began to mingle around underneath. There was also a pepperiness on the nose and palate. After the first taste we poured a bit more and were more positive. Although the metal was still there the berries were creeping up to the top and they were deep.
Our idea in the beginning was not to decant the wine and let it open up in the glass but because every time we poured a little more the metallic thing took over we decided we probably should decant it. Now everything came into focus. The deep berries came to the forefront and the pepper mellowed into the fruit. I also liked that the tannins still remained soft. This was a smooth wine and I was definitely beginning to like it. Gal was also coming around to it as well. The metal had really thrown him off. At this point we started to just enjoy the wine for where it was. Me personally, I was impressed. This malbec was taking us on a journey. Then without warning another pleasant aroma made itself known. Smokiness. Gal said he smelled smoked wood and I could picture a smoldering campfire in the fall. This was great. The smokiness did something else that was cool. It blended with the pepper and the fruit which, for Gal brought out a licorice aroma. This was hard for me to find but then again my nose is not as refined as my palate. Gal’s nose on the other hand is a workhorse for aroma. He can smell gunflint a mile away in a wine. That’s why he’s a good tasting partner. We have two different approaches to wine coming together for a full report.
Every once in awhile though I surprise myself with my own nose but I rely on Gal to confirm. I say this because in the end as the decanter emptied I smelled something I just could not place but knew oh so well. Candied……….something. What was it? Then it hit me (and this may sound weird), marzipan. Everything had mellowed together and after five minutes of thought it came to me. My wife loves marzipan and therefore I have had my share. Now, it wasn’t an overwhelming aroma. It was lingering but I know I was right because I got a resounding “You got it” from Gal. We also noticed that towards the end the tannins were strengthening. But that was fine by me because through the entire experience of this wine they were pretty chill.
In Conclusion, this wine was great. I spent about $20 on it and was impressed with the quality to price ratio. I had some lamb with it in the beginning and it went wonderfully with this wine. Finally. Now I know what a good malbec tastes like. Argentina is on its way to greatness and this producer is on the same path.

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