Malbec: Compare and Contrast (Nieto Senetiner reserva 2004)

Posted in Uncategorized by EVWG on the June 8th, 2006

Nieto.jpgSince the experience with the Los Hormigas Malbec reserva I have been keeping my eyes on Argentinean wines. There is a little discount wine shop on Ave A between 12 and 13th that looks like a serious place until you walk in and look around. The décor is nice with hardwood floors and a clean atmosphere. But when you begin to assess the wine situation you immediately find that it’s just another discount wine shop with the usual Cali wines for too much and sub par French labels. But that’s not to say that the place is bad. The help is not informative but…helpful. The guys in there are there to make money not talk about their passion for wine. That being said, these types of shops are great for southern American wine exploration since the owner probably buys his inventory focusing on price more than quality. And it just so happens that South American wine is usually a great value for good quality.
I walked into this place and quickly passed all other regions and headed straight to the South American section. It wasn’t actually the South American section; there were two sign headings one that said Chile and one that said Spain. I am almost ready to start going nuts with the Spanish wines and still thinking about how to approach Chile but right now I want to delve further into the Argentinean juice. I looked around this small five or six shelf selection and found that of these shelves only one was Argentinean. They had lumped the Chilean and the Argentinean together and labeled the section Chile. Oh well, no big deal (it is a discount wine shop by the way) I wasn’t expecting much anyway.
Then I saw it. Of the eight Argentinean wines offered there was one that was the same vintage as the Los Hormigas (2004) and, like the Los Hormigas was a reserva. It was also a 100% malbec. But what got me all worked up is that it was $9.99. Cool! I can buy this here wine and compare and contrast with the Los Hormigas and if it is horrible I’m only out ten bucks. No prob. So I grabbed it and off I went to taste it with myself, Gal and (ladies and gentleman…introducing) Mr. Wolf.
The wine is a 2004 Bodegas Nieto Senetiner Malbec Reserva and it just so happens that Mr. Wolf was familiar with it. He had had a bottle of the 2003 reserva and said it was a monster with the tannins and needed to be decanted for a while. We were all about the decantation but we wanted to investigate the first pour before jumping to any desicions of that matter. Pop went the cork and the beautiful sound of wine splashing out of a bottle and into a glass at good temperature followed.
Right off the bat Wolf was a bit surprised. The wine was softer than he remembered and alcohol had replaced the tannin in the monster department. That alcohol really needed to burn off but still, we were not ready to decant. The tannin structure of this wine was definitely softer than the Los Hormigas but it had all the spice I remembered. The difference was that the balance between the two was opposite. In the Los Hormigas the tannin structure was mature with a good strength, which kept the spice or pepper at bay. This wine, the Nieto, has the same amount of spice but because the tannin structure is softer the spicy pepper is more prominent, in a pleasant way though. Also, once the spice mellowed a bit, which was a result, in part of the alcohol evaporating a plumminess started rising to the surface from the center of the wine that was picked up by Gal and Mr. Wolf.
So all in all when the bottle was finished (always a good sign) the verdict was in. This was a great wine for the price. We never decanted it by the way. It was smooth enough that we could just enjoy it as we poured it from the bottle. If it was to have been a couple of dollars more maybe not so much but where it was at was just fine. Yet another example of where Argentinean wine is headed. I can’t wait to taste more of these wines and dissect them with the dudes. Next I want to check out some of the blends. By the way I know the pic of this wine says 2003 but it was the only pic I could find. The 2003 Is much harsher according to Mr. Wolf. So if you happen to pick up this vintage instead of the 2004 if you can, decant for a while.

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