Black cherry, red currant, plums, chocolate, licorice, and sweet spices all wrapped up in a velvety, round and juicy, mouth-coating body balanced by the bright acidity that even $12 Mendoza Malbecs can deliver. All of the preceding adjectives were gleaned from reviews of this wine already posted on the internet. My contribution? Without hesitation, "hedonistic".
When we tasted Padrillos (stallions) last weekend I felt a distinct guilty conscience creeping up on me because I have been trained to relegate such new world efforts to a second rate status because, well, they aren't European. By that, I mean they just don't follow the format, like jazz defied classical music a hundred years ago by thumbing its nose at Beethoven and the rest. Nuance be damned! We're just gonna "get it" right here. Similarly, Padrillos makes no apology to Bordeaux for its forthrightness. This is "in your face" new world red wine and after tasting it in Friday night's lineup, I impulsively said, "This tastes like $25 wine"...and I rarely say anything impulsively.
I have four reasons for why this wine is so good:
1. The wine is the project of Ernesto Catena, eldest son of Nicholas Catena, the "Don" of the Argentine wine industry. Ernesto is a neophyte on his own in the business after a long and diverse academic career and doesn't even have his own winery, so the wine is made at his "old man's" place, Catena Zapata, only the best place in Argentina to make wine.
2. While he doesn't have a winery, Ernesto does have vineyards, 178 acres (116 under vine) in the Valle de Uco, Mendoza at 3576 feet above sealevel and certified organic. Vistaflores is the name of the property and it is planted in Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Syrah but the 100% 2012 Malbec is sourced from three Valle de Uco vineyards including Vistaflores (40%) with an average vine age of fifteen years.
3. So... Mendoza was originally planted in vines by Jesuit priests in the 16th century. The project got goosed in the late 1800s when the phylloxera devastation in Europe drove winemakers to the new world to pursue their dreams. Italians and Spaniards in particular ended up in Argentina but in more recent times French wine companies have invested heavily there. Actually, Mendoza is being inundated with winemaking investments from companies around the world (blogpost 11/14/11). A factor? Yeah, sure. Competition always drives quality up.
4. Here's the familiar refrain: for grapevine roots to survive in rocky, sandy, alluvial soils at high altitudes with little organic matter and low in fertility, they have to go deep resulting in small concentrated berries with accentuated minerality and firm tannins. Then with the predictable Mendozan weather patterns (hot dry days, cool nights), effectively extending the growing season to produce rich ripe fruit, the winemaker has the latitude to perfect the kind of wine he chooses. With Malbec, name your stylistic poison, the winemaker can make it happen here.
Join us here on Friday June 22nd when David Rimmer of Lynda Allison Selections presents a panoply of impressive French and Italian reds and whites for our joint edification. Sounds like you ought to be here, right?