Saturday, January 15, 2011

Quartet Of Argentinean Malbecs Tasted: One Stands Tall

Four Malbecs from Argentina were spotlighted at a recent tasting at Aficionado Wine and Cigars. Since Malbec is perhaps our favorite grape, Green Dragon and I joined the lively group intent on determining which of the deep, delicious wines reigns supreme.
Three of the four selections were value-oriented Malbecs with the fourth being a tasty, more expensive bottle.

We opened with the 2009 Alamos Malbec. This is the wine that helped Malbec emerge on the American wine scene. At $9.99 this bottle delivers lush deep flavors at a great price. This was the most fruit driven of the quartet with dark berry flavors and a touch of spice.

The 2009 Altos Las Hormigas Malbec is another $9.99 buy. We learned from a new friend at the tasting that Altos Las Hormigas translates to “the tall ants.” I’m sure there’s a good story there. The wine is much lighter in mouth-feel than the Alamos and several of our samplers thought it was an improvement from the Alamos. This was a balanced wine and not as dark in flavor as the opener.

The 2009 Urban UCO Malbec was a new wine for me. This is slightly more expensive than the first two, but certainly won’t break the bank at $11.99. I liked this wine. The nose isn’t fruity, like the Alamos. The flavor is of dark red fruit, a dash of blueberry and a touch of spice. This was delightfully smooth and was the favorite of Green Dragon.

The Aficionado staff had stacked the deck with this last wine. The 2007 Colome Malbec is clearly of a higher caliber than the other three competitors. The Colume was also decanted to let the wine breathe and open up before tasting. We had a bottle of this before and really enjoyed it. Again, it struck a warming chord on a very cold night. The flavor is complex and has a swirl of fig and blueberry. The approach is smooth and the finish lingers. The flavors dance on the tongue. The price for the Colume is $27.99, which is a reasonable price for a nice wine like this.

I did an informal poll of our tasting table and the table next to us. The ratings were: 1. Colome, 2. Urban UCO, 3. Alamos and 4. Altos. The Alamos was seen as too fruity by some and the Altos had almost no fans at all.

There’s a galaxy of great Malbec out there, including wines from France (where it all started) and Washington State. This was a fun and relaxing tasting. It would have been nice to see another higher end Malbec or two. Alamos and Altos both have reserve Malbecs that are a step above their entry wines.

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