And here are the final three wines of our Malbec World Celebration!
2007 Bodega Monteviejo Lindaflor
Bodega Monteviejo is owned and operated by Catherine Pere-Verge of Chateau Le Gay. With international winemaker Michel Rolland heading up the winemaking, the winery is seeking to produce very high quality wines. Glenn and I tasted the entire Monteviejo line up of wines at this year’s Boston Wine Expo and enjoyed all of them.
As soon as we poured the inky black wine, we knew that the Lindaflor was different from the others in color…and in temperament. The Lindaflor matches the expectations many wine drinkers have of a New World style wine – big, ripe, extracted, and oaky. It is not a bad thing or good thing; it is a particular style that some will like, others not. It actually works for this wine since there is plenty of verve to keep it lively. My initial impression was of sweet vanilla from the oak, but additional time in the glass yields black cherry and licorice. These combine with bitter chocolate and even a hint of minerality on the palate. High tannins, high acidity, and a long spicy finish.
At Wine Library for $49.98.
2007 Altocedro Año Cero
In a tasting of noted winemakers, Karim Mussi might not be a household name, but we decided to give the Altocedro a try. Mussi, a Chilean of Lebanese descent, produces a small quantity of wine each year, with limited oak. In fact, there is no mention of oak for the Año Cero in the winemaker notes on their website.
The Altocedro had the unfortunate luck of following four intense, well-crafted, and sometimes oaky wines. And after the Lindaflor we all agreed that we would have appreciated this wine more had it come earlier in the line-up. Nevertheless, the Altocedro came across as fresh, with a nice purity of fruit. Plum and cassis are complement by some chocolate and minerality. It was much lighter than any of the other wines in the tasting, with decent acidity and light tannins. The following day, with taste buds not compromised by heartier wines, I enjoyed this selection.
At Brookline Liquor Mart for $17.50.
2008 Altos Las Hormigas Valle de Uco Reserva
The Altos Las Hormigas was somewhat a sentimental choice. When we were just starting the BU wine program, the winery’s Malbec (not the Reserva) was one of our favorites. And at about $10 a bottle, a bargain by our estimation. Italian winemakers Alberto Antonini and Attilio Pagli have set out to create a “Malbec only” winery (though they do make some Bonarda under the Colonia Las Liebres label).
Black cherry and plum with licorice dominate, but there are also some rustic notes. What’s surprising is that despite having spent 18 months aging in oak, there is not an overt oakiness here. Mouthwatering acidity, grippy, but not overpowering, tannins, and a long finish of black fruit and licorice.
At Austin Liquors for $20.99.
It was difficult to choose a favorite, and interestingly, we had a split along gender lines. Eleni and I favored the Susana Balbo, while Chris and Glenn liked the Mendel. Even the night after Malbec World Day, I could not definitively say which wine I liked best. Each has its own character and flavors and textures to enjoy. And that is really one of the things that I hope wine lovers can take away from this celebration of Malbec: that this grape has the versatility to be transformed into wines of a variety of styles and price-points to please pretty much all palates, whether you explore the grape’s Bordeaux roots or look to Argentine or US examples.