August 06, 2012

Argentenian malbec worth writing about

It is not snobbish to dislike so much widely available Argentinian malbec. Malbec is the new merlot. It is potentially great wine from a noble grape of Bordeaux, the Dordogne and the Loire. It's just being turned into a caricature of itself, purple and softly fruited, sweetish even when it's called dry, all for a comfortably broad internationalized market.

Of course, there is good malbec. You just have to dig a little.

I was visiting a local grocer and chatting with the wine buyer recently. I noticed he had a lot of South American wines and he readily told me how much value he finds in the wines, especially those from Argentina.

I told him my dilemma with Argentinian malbec and he was understanding. I said I don't like wines with so much fruit. I don't want dirty wines, just winey wines. Wines that taste like wine, not a creamsicle. So he told me about Patti - an old school producer - who's turning the reins over to a younger generation but still does things on a small scale.

He recommended the 2005 Carmello Patti Malbec Mendoza, for $25. That is a lot more than usual Argentian malbec, but it's worth it. The steward told me the wine was pretty ready to drink and he was right. It's deeply cherry red in color with a fresh but maturing, penatrating aroma, full of cherries and cherry pits, violets and tar.

The flavors are soft and full, cured fruit flavors mingled with older wood and gravel notes, purely malbec in its shades of what I know from Cahors and the Touraine in France. There isn't much tannin and I can see why this might be better sooner than later. For now, this is serious wine, elegant and rich, pure and complex all at once.

What I like the most is - this probably tastes like what Mendoza malbec really tastes like. Not fussed with, not dirty, ripe but not overripe. Just pure wine goodness that, finally, has me thinking I have a response when people ask me about Argentinian malbec.

1 comment:

D J R-S said...

I missed a chance for a vertical of Señor Patti's Cabs & Bordeaux blend-- what he's proudest of & moves at that much-vaunted 'premium'level.
I came in for a visit as he was doing the end-of-season accounting in April or May of 2008. I'd love to hear your thoughts on Bodega Cecchin's wine. Chambers street in NYC may have a bottle or two on hand. Cheers!