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23 May 2010

Argentina: Malbec & Cabernet Sauvignon

Malbec and Cabernet at a glance: here are my notes and ratings, for your pure pleasure, of twenty diverse reds made from arguably Argentina's forte on the variety front - varietals or blends of the two (or sometimes with a third grape such as Merlot), gleaned from the huge discovery of an Argentina stand at this year's London Wine Fair (May 2010). Interesting to note perhaps, I copied this comment from a tasting report I did on Argentina back in 2004 (one of many pages from the previous incarnation of this site I still think worthwhile restoring when I get a moment): "To reiterate one particular criticism, Argentina's winemakers (OK so not all of them) still appear to be on a learning curve in terms of oak usage..." Apply this to some of my comments below about oak and draw your own conclusions... Snapshots of some of the producers below are here ('wine words' archive).

2007 Norton Privada (MalbecMerlotCabernet Sauvignon) - quite extracted but has richer smokier fruit than their other wines I tried, with spicy dark olive notes too; and the grainy oak texture is more subtle on the finish. 87+
2007 Bodega Dante Robino Gran Dante Malbec - dusty oak on the nose, richer than their others with lively red berry fruit and hints of black olive; grainy coconut oak with solid tannins, shows fair depth although again not sure that oak is adding much...

Bodega Septima
2009 Malbec - nice "inky" cranberry fruit, quite intense with spicy liquorice notes; firm palate with perfumed fruity vs smoky edges, attractive style. 87+
2008 Cabernet Sauvignon - quite rich and structured with some vibrant cassis fruit, although less charming than the above in the end.
2008 Septimo Dia Malbec - a touch of oak on the nose vs again lively characterful fruit; hint of spicy grainy oak on the palate yet quite concentrated vs firm and closed up finish. 89
2008 Septimo Dia Cabernet Sauvignon - spicy cedar notes vs pretty intense cassis and black cherry; again has firm and grainy mouth-feel vs fair concentration and oomph. Needs a year to open up a bit. 90+
2008 Gran Reserva (MalbecCabernet SauvignonTannat) - oakier still but pretty concentrated, difficult and inexpressive at the moment but promising...

Clichés galore...

Las Piedras Pura Vid & Bodega Calle
2009 Pannunzio GV Malbec - vibrant currant-y fruit with lush smoky edges and spicy too; attractive concentration and depth of fruit vs a touch of tannin grip and oomph. 88+
2009 Pannunzio GV Cabernet Sauvignon - rich and juicy with lovely cassis aromas/flavours; again shows good concentration and style, lush vs firm mouth-feel and well-balanced finish.89-91
2009 Bodega Calle Alberti 154 Malbec - "inky", spicy and intense with cranberry, raspberry and liquorice; delicious fruit and spice vs big firm mouth-feel. Promising. 90+
2009 Bodega Calle Alberti 154 Cabernet Sauvignon - wilder and smokier profile with rich cassis and biscuit tones; solid and powerful finish, also needs a couple of years to open up. 90+

Domaine Vistalba / Fabre Montmayou
2008 Reserva Malbec - shows a bit of coconut oak vs nice peppery black and red fruit profile; smoky richness vs solid dry mouth-feel vs good balance of attractive fruit and oomph; finishing with lingering tobacco, raspberry and liquorice tones/flavours. 87+
2008 Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon - juicy and ripe cassis aromas/flavours with "inky" intensity; firm structure and power vs touches of chocolate oak underpinned by nice currant fruit.87+
2008 Gran Reserva Malbec - shows more choco oak yet definitely lusher mouth-feel too; very chunky and grippy still with underlying dark spicy fruit. 87-89
2008 Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon - lovely cassis and dark plum fruit, again big solid palate vs concentrated and structured; promising, needs 1-2 years to open up. 89-91
2007 Grand Vin (MalbecCabernet Sauvignon + 5% Merlot) - pretty coco oaky nose and texture; chunky, dense and concentrated though with a bit of wow on the finish. Not sure about the amount of oak but there's plenty going on underneath, it seems... 90+?

2008 Malbec - a touch baked on the nose; ripe vs vibrant cranberry palate with minty raspberry notes too, has a bit of power and grip but it's quite easy-going. 80+
2007 Solar de Orfila Malbec (14%) - smokier and richer with firm tight palate, not very oaky actually with punchy finish. 85
2007 Cautivo de Orfila Malbec (14.5%) - quite complex, rich and smoky with darker spicier profile; light chocolate oak texture vs dry grip, nice intense and spicy red vs black fruit finish. 86-88

Other archived South American links:
Chile Awards gold & trophy winners (and lots more from Chile too).
More Argentina on the archive page HERE.

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