TN: Malbecs ($20 to $40)

MALBECS ($20 TO $40) - Dan’s (3/28/2012)

Last night my value tasting group met to drink Malbecs. The theme was $20 to $40 and had to be available locally. Although there is a proliferation of Malbecs under this price point, the consensus was it might be worth spending up to get a bit more. I should note that many of these wines are probably available for under $20 in other parts of the world as Ohio’s Laws tend (minimum markups) tend to make these wines more expensive than most places.

  • 2009 Alta Vista Torrontés Classic - Argentina, Salta, Cafayate
    Interesting wine. Served cool (the label recommends 44-46F), I did not like this at all (although the group seemed to a bit). The nose had pineapple, the palate had grapefruit, but it was bitter and certainly seemed varietally atypical. Going back to it at the end of the evening, this had much improved. The nose had some lychees and peaches and was more aromatic. The palate, lost the bitterness. While there was still some grapefruit, there was also some peach notes. It came much more into balance. Not sure if it was the air or serving temperature. (85 pts.)

  • 2008 Dominio del Plata Malbec BenMarco - Argentina, Mendoza
    Inky purple in color. The nose has oak and mocha. With air, some fruit emerges, cherries and black raspberries. On the palate, this is more plums and some blueberry pie. Its sweet on the attack, smooth and easy to drink, but a bit simple. Nothing really wrong here, but nothing really outstanding either. (87 pts.)
  • 2008 Antigal Malbec Uno (1) - Argentina, Mendoza
    Purple in color. The nose is dusty. With air, it still never shows much fruit. Maybe some generic red fruit. Sweet and jammy although thin in texture. Plums on the finish turning a bit bitter. This reminds me of the Cal Merlots served at benefit parties in the 90’s. It ok but has no sense of place, grape other than “Red Wine”. (85 pts.)
  • 2005 Château Haut-Monplaisir Cahors Pur Plaisir - France, Southwest France, Cahors
    Congrats to Lou for being the only one to pick out the non-Argentinian wine in the bunch. He said it was because the tannins were dry and not sweet. I need to study on that. Purple in color. The nose was tight and took some time, eventually showing black cherries and dark raspberries. The had a nice acidity and the firmest tannins in the group. More blueberries on the palate. Slight heat on the finish, but a really nice wine. I am glad this had a few years left on it, but even so, this was the most backward wine in the group and seemed quite young. (91 pts.)
  • 2010 Slant Walk 4 barrels - Argentina, Mendoza
    This wine is actually produced by my neighbor (and her partners). I live in northeast Ohio. Here is the quick story. Four women travelled to Argentina on vacation where they heard about the “Wines from Mendoza” project. The bought a four acre plot to make wines. It is sort of a custom crush project from vine to sale. They make two different wines so far and this is their top end which sells for around $26. Slant Walk is the name of a walk at the Miami University (of Ohio) campus where they all met. I had never tried the wine, so I procurred a bottle for this tasting. As it was blind, I was a bit nervous for them and our neighborhood relations. Luckily it showed very well and was the groups WOTN! More info can be found at I have no affilation other than what I said.

Inky purple in color. The nose starts out tight and dusty. With air it shows black raspberries and some blueberry notes. On the palate, it has a lovely silky texture (best of the group). Firm tannins and while not overtly fruit forward, there is a hefty amount of black raspberries. Seems to have a lot going on underneath and I think another couple of years in a cellar will bring out that complexity. Got better all night long. (91 pts.)

  • 2008 Bodega Colome Malbec - Argentina, Salta, Calchaquies
    This is a wine I see in the store a lot and never think of buying. I guess the label doesn’t appeal to me. A good thing about drinking blind as I very much enjoyed it and it was the groups #2. Inky purple in color. The nose is dusty with some tobacco notes and black raspberries. On the palate, this has a sweet black raspberry note. Medium bodied. Its more of a fun wine than serious, but it also has some depth and something going on. Very nice showing. (90 pts.)
  • 2010 Achával-Ferrer Malbec - Argentina, Mendoza
    I threw this in as Santiago Achaval is the consulting winemaker for the Slant Walk project. Purple in color although a bit dull. The nose shows a lot of oak and some rosemary along with dark cherries. Thins body. Nice acidity and has some depth to it. Turns bitter on the finish. A nice enough wine, but not worth the $28 Ohio it cost. (87 pts.)
  • 2008 Diego Murillo (Humberto Canale) Malbec - Argentina, Patagonia, Río Negro
    Purple/ruby in color. The nose has slight minty notes with cherries. A very odd wine on the palate. Cherry cola and root beer mixed. A couple of people loved it, but most had it near the bottom. Its not bad and in some ways reminded me of a generic RRV Pinot. Certainly and outlier. I thought someone mentioned this was from Patagonia, so perhaps its just a different “terroir” that accounts for it. (86 pts.)
  • 2010 Finca Las Nubes Malbec Mounier - Argentina, Salta
    Purple in color. The nose has dusty blueberries. Silky texture. More black raspberry fruit. Nice wine, if a bit innocuous. (86 pts.)

I was thrilled to see the Slant Walk do so well in a blind tasting, both for me and the group. The dangers of blind tasting are there, but knowing that we liked the wine without regard to the producer made it worth it.
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