Tag-Archive for ◊ Malbec ◊

30 Jul 2009 Bottling 2007 Roaring Red

A quick update from Lionheart Wines….

I bottled the 2007 Roaring Red, Proprietary blend, yesterday into shiners (bottles without labels for capsules).  The chemistry for the wine is: S02 – 32 ppm, pH – 3.58, TA – 5.3 grams/liter, ABV – 14.65% and VA of 0.60 grams/liter.  We ended up with 26 cases plus 9 loose bottles.  It is a small amount of wine but the challenge will now be to sell it given the challenging environment. 

I need to get the label text figured out and submitted for TTB approval.  After the labels are approved and printed, I will get the shiners labelled.  The wine will not be released until the fall so the wine has time to integrate and get over bottle shock.  I learned from the 2006 Roaring Red that it need about 6 to 8 months for the wine to fully integrate, but you could tell how the wine was going to evolved after 4 months or so.

The final blend works out to be:
55% 2007 Dry Creek Valley, Syrah
23% 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon
6% 2007 Mourvedre, Lodi
5% 2007 Napa Valley, Petite Verdot
9% 2007 Napa Valley, Malbec
2% 2007 Napa Valley, Merlot

So, this blend is very nearly a Bordeaux Blend just missing some Cabernet Franc to complete the big 5 varietals.  I guess you could say that this is a Bordeaux blend interpreted via the Northern Rhone (as the Syrah was co-fermented with Viognier).  The wine is a big, bold wine and truly lives up to the name — Roaring Red!

19 May 2009 Spring Blending Update

Spring blending is underway at Lionheart Wines!  I have been working on blending the following wines:

2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
2007 Roaring Red, California
2008 Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast
2008 white Rhone blend (we can not use ‘The Angel’s Share’ anymore due to a trademark issue…if you have a suggestion for what to call the wine, please let me know)

The blending has gone very well.  I really enjoy working on blending the wines as you get to “fine tune” the work started way back at harvest of the grapes.   I have a wine style in mind which I try to reach in the final blend but do not artificially impose my will on what the wines are showing as their best qualities.  I want to make the best possible wine given the base blending components.

The 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon is looking to be a different style than then 2006; the 2007 has more ripe cherry / plum fruit which the blending will need to tone down.  I am going to be doing blend tests with Petite Verdot (to add spicyness and warm baking spices), Cabernet Franc (to add some floral aromas and more velvety tannins) and a bit of Malbec (make the wine more interesting, more layered in aromas and flavors).  The exact blend has not been worked out yet; the primary blend should be done by the first week in June.  The primary blend will then be put back in barrel to let it integrate before any final adjustments and bottling later this year.

The 2007 Roaring Red has been a bit of challenge this year.  I had to do a fining trial to get the tannin profile in line with the target wine.  The fining trial was done by taking equal volume samples of the current blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley and Kiona, Washington) and Dry Creek Syrah and adding 1 egg white worth to one sample, 2 egg white worth to another sample, etc and then left in a refrigerate to cold stablize it for a week.  The results from the fining trial indicated that about 1.25 egg whites per barrel seemed to get the proper tannin softness and structure for the wine.   After the actual fining is completed, the last part of the primary blend will be done.  The blending wines to be tested are Eaglepoint Grenache (for spiceyness and addition of light red fruits (currants, strawberry, etc) ), Contra Costa Mourvedre (for aromas and flavor complexity) and Petite Verdot ( for spiceyness and warm baking spices).

The 2008 Pinot Noir primary blending was very easy — equal parts of the Bohemian Vineyard and Gap’s Crown vineyard.  The blend was really nice and very similar to the 2007 Pinot Noir.   The blend will be topped with some of the Bohemian 777 clone from the second pick to add a bit more concentration to the wine as it integrates.   I am very happy with the base wines from these two vineyards!

The 2008 Saralee’s Vineyard, White Rhone Blend (formerly ‘The Angel’s Share’) blending was a several hour and over 15 blends tested for the primary blend to be determined.  The blend components all look very good by themselves but when properly combined you get a really lovely wine.   The final blend should be very similar to the 2007 White Rhone blend.   The 2008 primary blend is going to be 48% Roussanne / 50% Marsanne / 2% Viognier.    It was very cool to  be able to tell how the wine was going to evolve given this would be the third vintage — remember what the wines were like when initially blended versus the current state of each vintage.   I really enjoy working with the white Rhone varietals as the flavors and aromas are very complex and beguiling.  The white Rhone wine maybe bottled near the end of June depending on how the primary blend stablizes in tank.

11 Feb 2009 Mendoza, Argentina — Day 1

Wine tasting in Mendoza is quite a bit different than in the US.  The concept of people randomly dropping by a winery to try the wine is a very new concept for Mendoza.  Each winery typically has 24 hour on-premise security to deal with potential break-ins / theft.  Given the level of security, it is necessary to contact the winery ahead of time (typically at least a day) to set up a time to visit.  My wife, Jen, set up the touring for the day using a local tour service — Amphora Tours.  I would highly recommend using Amphora tours as they know quite a few of the local wineries and which wineries make up a good tour.  They provide a one day tour of the valley and a one day tour of the Uco Valley (higher elevation and further away from downtown Mendoza). 

Day 1 tour of the valley included four wineries: Clos De Chacras (a “boutique” bodega in the Chacras region of Mendoza), Renacer (a mid-sized bodega in the Lujan De Cuyo wine region), Ruca Malen (a large production bodega in the Lujan De Cuyo wine region ) and finished the day at Bodegas Benegas (in the Lujan De Cuyo wine region).  The four wineries were a great snapshot into the winemaking traditions of Mendoza, how the winemaking techniques have evolved over time and what the future direction of the winemaking in Mendoza. 

The Mendoza region is considered high-desert with sudden and very violent hail storms.  The valley floor vineyards were nearly all covered in protective hail nets.  Initially, I thought the netting was for protection from birds but our tour guide told us about the severity of the hail storms.  The week before our visit, a large area about 300 KM south of the valley was hit by a very bad hail storm that wiped out the entire vintage in the area; after the hail stopped falling, there was baseball sized hail about two feet deep on the ground!

Clos De Chacras is a very old winery (100 year+) which has been family owned for most of its existence.  The winery did change hands once during the 1970’s economic problems in Argentina.  The winery production is very small by Mendoza standards — about 6500 cases of wine per year.  All the production techniques are similar to what is done at Crushpad with the exception of the use of concrete fermentation and storage tanks.  The concrete tanks insides are covered with epoxy every two years to avoid cement and wine interactions.  The oldest concrete tanks from the 1920’s have been converted into caves for bottle aging.  The winemaker is a young man who recently graduated from one of the local winemaking schools in the valley.    We tried three wines: 2005 Cavas De Crianza, Merlot ($8 USD or 24 pesos), 2005 Cavas De Crianza, Cabernet Sauvignon, Mendoza ($10 USD or 30 pesos), and 2005 Gran Estripe blend ($29 USD or 84 pesos).  All three wines were quite good especially for the price point.  The Gran Estripe I would say is an excellent wine.  If you have a chance to try any of these wines, you really should.

ReNacer is considered a small producer by Mendoza standards.  The location is beautiful, great facilities and a lovely tasting room.  The winery uses stainless steel tanks for fermentation (at the moment) and mostly french oak barrels.  The winery is currently constructing a set of underground cement fermentation tanks to help control the fermentation temperatures and use the ground’s natural temperature to keep cooling energy costs down.  The use of cement tanks is coming back into vogue in the Mendoza Valley.

As part of our tasting experience, we got to do a blending experiment using Malbecs grown from three different regions in Mendoza: Ugarteche (700m altitude), Agrelo (990m altitude, clay and medium sized rocks in the soil), and La Consulta (1100m altitude, rocky soil, less hail due to proximity to the Andes).  Ugarteche sourced malbec was pronounced perfumed with aromas of roses, coffee, plum, blackberry, and boysenberry, medium+ tannins, medium+ alcohol and flavors of coffee, boysenberry and raisin/fig.  Agrelo sourced malbec was medium+ intensity on the nose, aromas of violets, rose, cedar, smokey red cherry, black fruit;slightly drying medium+ tannins with flavors of black cherry, black currant, smoke, cedar and a slight savoriness on the palate.  La Consulta sourced malbec was medium+ intensity on the nose with aromas of rose, cherry and flavors of red cherry, slight cranberry, black cherry.  The higher the altitude, the fresher the fruit flavors. 

For people who have not tried blending wine, I highly suggest it as it is an eye-opening experience.  You realize that blending truely is an art . You must be patient, methodical in analysis of your components and each blend you try, take good notes and have an open mind to new blends.  Wine chemistry is very sensative in how a slight change can drastically alter what you smell, taste and how the wine feels in your mouth.   As a winemaker, I started off the blending session with 50% Agrelo, 30% Ugarteche and 20% La Consulta — I like it quite a bit which was surprising since it was the first attempt after tasting the components.   Jen made an interesting blend of 75% La Consulta, 15% Ugarteche, 10% Agrelo; the blend would be great after 3 to 4 years of bottle aging and the fruit of the Agrelo did a lot to help make the tannins of the La Consulta more approachable.  After the blending session was over, we did try three wines from ReNacer: 2007 Malbec, punto final Classico, Mendoza (32 pesos or $10 USD); 2006 Malbec punto final Reserva, Mendoza; 2007 Enamore, ReNacer+Allegrini, Mendoza ($40 USD).  All the wines were very good especially the Enamore.

Our third winery stop was combined with lunch.  We had a fantastic 5 course lunch at Bodega Ruca Malen.  Each course was paired with a wine from the winery.   The wines we tried were 2007 Yauquen Chardonnay (21 pesos), 2007 Yauquen Malbec (21 pesos), 2007 Ruca Malen Petit Verdot (42 pesos), 2006 Ruca Malen Cabernet Sauvignon ($40 USD), and 2007 Kinien Malbec.  The wines were very well paired with the food.  We did get to try a local drink called Mate which is similar to tea but has a strong dried herb taste. The Petit Verdot was probably my favorite wine at the meal.

The last winery we visited was Bodega Benegas.  This is a recently renovated 100+ year old adobe winery.  The winery has some very old estate vines — 75+ year old Sangiovese and 100+ year old Cabernet Franc vines.  The new owner has put in $3 to $4MM USD into the renovation.  The facility is quite impressive with a very nice cellar for barrel aging, converted old concrete fermentation/storage tanks into bottle storage for the 12 month bottling aging given to most of their red wines and a large crushpad area that includes a large number of “smallish” cement tanks used for fermentation.    The cement tanks for fermentation can be heated using natural gas burners to heat the bottom of the tank.  Old pneumatic basket presses are used instead of more modern equipment to get a gentle pressure on the skins.

We tasted the following wines: 2007 Carmela Benegas, Rose of Cabernet Franc & Malbec (31 pesos), 2005 Sangiovese (65 pesos), 2005 Syrah (65 pesos), 2005 Meritage Blend (65 pesos), and 2005 Benegas Lynch, Libertad Vineyards, Cabernet Franc (140 pesos).  The wines were all very good, well made and quite drinkable.  The Rose was a bit too sweet for my personal tastes.  I would highly recommend seeking out Bodega Benegas as the quality of the wine is very good especially at the US price point.

My take aways from the day’s tasting were the following: 1) US production costs are going to have to drop significantly if they want to be able to compete with Argentinian wines once the exports start flowing (only about 5% of Argentina production is currently exported), 2) wine quality in Mendoza is very good across the various price points from jug wine to ultra-premium, and 3) the marketing materials are very well-done.  Overall, the US needs to take note of what is happening in Mendoza as the wines from there will be a force to be dealt with very soon!

11 Feb 2009 2007 Carmela Benegas, Rose (Cabernet Franc / Malbec)
 |  Category: Wine Review  |  Tags: , , ,  | One Comment

The wine is priced 31 pesos.  It is a rose of Cabernett Franc and Malbec.

Appearance: bright, pink/salmon core -> water white rim

Nose: pronounced intensity with aromas of dried strawberry, dried fruit (cranberry?)

Palate: flavors of dried cherry; a bit too sweet for my taste.

11 Feb 2009 2007 Enamore, Allegrini + ReNacer

This wine is priced at $40 USD.  The wine is blend of Malbec (60%), Cabernet Franc (23%), Cabernet Sauvignon (10%), Syrah (4%) and Bonarda (3%).  The grapes were dried and processed in the Amarone style — dried on trays before being crushed and fermented.  The grapes were cold soaked for 10 days at 8 degree celsius and then fermented using native yeast for 90 days in stainless steel tanks at temperatures between 27 and 29 degrees C.  The wine was aged in new French Oak barriques for 12 months.

Appearance: opaque ruby core -> water white rim

Nose: medium intensity with flavors of berry compote, blood plum

Palate: medium+ concentration; medium alcohol; long finish; flavors = berry compote, black berry, plum, slight savory element.  The palate is very dense, balanced from start to finish. 

Quality: This is a very good wine and well worth seeking out.  The wine will hold for many years and develop more complexity in the bottle.

11 Feb 2009 2006 Malbec, Punto Final Reserva, ReNacer, Mendoza
 |  Category: Uncategorized  |  Tags: , , ,  | Leave a Comment

The wine is a blend of 40% Uco Valley fruit and 60% Agrelo fruit.  The blend is Malbec (99%) and Cabernet Franc (1%).  The grapes were cold soaked for 12 days at 8 C and fermented with native yeasts over 17 days in stainless steel tanks at temperatures between 27 C and 31 C.  The wine as aged in French Oak barriques for 10 months.

Appearance: opaque ruby/black core -> ruby rim

Nose: medium intensity with aromas of spices (allspice, mace), anise, perfume, berry

Palate: high acidity; medium+ to high alcohol; medium, slightly green tannins; Flavors that match the aromas.  Note: green tannins picked up on finish.

Quality: good but green tannins distract from the finish.

Notes: Top 100 Wines for 2006, Wine Spectator (91 points)
Top 100 Wines for 2006, Wine Enthusiast (92 points for 2004 vintage)

11 Feb 2009 2007 Malbec, Punto Final Classico, ReNacer
 |  Category: Wine Review  |  Tags: , ,  | One Comment

The wine is priced 32 Argentinian Pesos or $10 USD.  The blend is 20% from the Uco Valley and 80% eastern Mendoza valley.

Appearance: Deep ruby core -> pink rim

Nose: medium+ intensity with aromas of violets, jammy, boysenberry

Palate: medium+ Acidity; soft medium tannins; medium+ alcohol; flavors of red cherry, brambleberry, spices; medium+ length.  The flavors are complex and nicely layered.

Quality: Good to excellent due to the complexity, layered aromas/flavors and overall balance. 

Production notes: the fruit was cropped to 3.5 tons/acre for the classico vs. 1 ton/acre for the Reserva level.

30 Jan 2009 Wine Valleys of Chile
Overview of Chile's wine valleys

Overview of Chile

Chile is long narrow country next to the Pacific Oceans.  The proximity to the cool Pacific Ocean allows creates some great growing conditions in the valleys closest to the ocean — cool breezes at night to cool down the vineyards while the ocean acts as a thermal reservoir to keep the top temperatures in a good range.  The wide diurinal temperature swings is great for varietals that require a good amount of acidity.

Here are the valleys from the north to the south of Chile:

Limari Valley — vineyards: Francisco de Aguirre, Casa Tamaya, Tabli, Soler
The valley itself is mostly known for white grapes varieties distilled to make Pisco.  New technologies are being used to be able to grow grapes in the semi-arid conditions.

Aconcagua Valley — vineyards: Errazuriz, Sena, von Siebenthal
The region is known for its pioneering of Syrah.

Casablanca Valley — vineyards: Casas del Bosque, Catrala, Indomita, Matetic, Veramonte, Vina Mar, William Cole, Carmen, Casablanca, Casa Lapostolle, Morande Kingston, Quintay, Santa Rita, Ventisquero y Vinedos Organicos Emiliana

Casablanca Valley is Santiago’s gateway to the sea — located between Coastal Mountain Range and the Pacific Range.  The earliest vineyards were planted 20 years ago and was selected to grow white varietals due to the cool climate.  Currently, the area is known for Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

Wine route information: Ruta de Casablanca, Phone: (56-32) 274-3933, www.casablancavalley.cl

San Antonio Valley — Vineyards: Garces Silva, Leyda, Matetic
San Antionio Valley is a very small growing area which is close to the sea (maritime climate).  The cool climate is excellent for Syrah which is helping to improve Chile’s repuation for Syrah.

Maipo Valley — Vineyards: Almaviva, Aquitania, Baron P. de Rothschild, Canepa, Carmen, Concha y Toro, Cousino Macul, Chocalan, de Martino, Domus, La rosa Odfjell, Santa ema, Santa Rita, Tarapaca, Undurraga, Ventisquero.

Maipo Valley is located between the Andes and the Coastal Mountains.  The Valley is considered to have three unofficial regions: Alto Maipo (closest to the Andes), Central Maipo (valley floor) and Pacific Maipo (closest to the ocean).  The valley has a Mediterranean climate with some climate adjustment based on the nearby geography (ocean or the mountains).  The Alto Maipo produce ulta-premium wines while the other regions produce softer, fruiter wines.

Wine route information: Ruta del Vino Maipo Alto, Phone: (56-2) 3350732, www.maipoalto.com

Cachapoal Valley — Wine Route: Altair, Anakena, Casas del Toqui, Chateau Los Boldos, Gracia, Lagar de Bezana, La Rosa, Morande, Porta, Saint Gobain,Torreon de Paredes.

Carmenere is ideally suited for this valley.

Wine route information: Ruta de Cachapoal, Phone: (56-72) 584360, www.cachapoalwineroute.cl

Colchagua Valley — Wine Route: Bisquertt, Casa Lapostolle, Caliterra, Casa Silva, Cono Sur, Vinedos Organicos Emiliana, Estampa, Hacienda Araucano, Laura Hartwig, Las Ninas, Los Vascos, Luis Felipe Edwards, Montes, MontGras, Santa Cruz, Santa Helena, Santa Rita, Siegel, Viu Manent.

The valley is known to produce Chile’s finest red wines made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere, Syrah, Malbec.  The valley is closer to the ocean so the cooling breezes at night help to maintain acidity in the red grapes despite the warm daytime temperatures.  The net results is a long, slow ripening period.

Wine route: Ruta del Vino de Colchagua, Phone: (56-72) 823199, www.colchaguavalley.cl

Curico Valley — wine route: Altacima, Aresti, Astaburuaga, Correa Albano, Chilcas, echeverria, Ines Escobar, La Fortuna, Las Pitras, Los Robles, Miguel Torres, Mario Edwards, Miguel Torres, Millaman, Molina, Pirazzoli, San Pedro, San Rafael, Santa Hortensia, Valdivieso.

The Curico Valley is the second largest producer of wine in Chile with strong representation by Chile’s top producers.  Miguel Torres brought modern winemaking techniques to Chile in the 1970’s.  The region grows 17 red varieties and 15 white varieties.

Wine route — Ruta Del Vino Curico, Phone: (56-75) 328972, www.rutadelvinocurico.cl

Maule Valley — Wine route: Balduzzi, Botalcura, Calina, Casa Donoso, Casas Patronales, Corral Victoria, Cremaschi Furlotti, J. Bouchon, Los Acantos, Hugo Casanova, Terranoble, Valle Frio, Via Wine Group.
The Maule Valley is largest producing valley featuring 43% of the countries total planted acreage.  The valley has diverse geography so there is no one style of wine the valley is known for.

Wine route: Ruta del Vino Valle del Maule, Phone: (56-71) 246460, www.valledelmaule.cl

Itata valley — Vineyards: Calina, Casas Patronales, Hugo Casanova, Via Wine Group, Casas Giner
The Spanish black grape Pais still predominates in the area.  The valley has some of the earliest vineyards in Chile.

Bio Bio Valley — Vineyards: Canata, Gracia, Guilisasti
The region is known for rain and colder weather.  The climate helps Chardonnay, Gewurtztraminer and Riesling to express near old world levels of acidity.

18 Dec 2008 South American Varieties — Carmenere, Malbec, Torrontes, Tannat
 |  Category: Varietal  |  Tags: , , , ,  | Leave a Comment

Carmenere

Carmenere and Merlot cuttings were brought over from Bordeaux to plant Chilean vineyards in the 19th century.  The cuttings tended to be planted together in a field blend.  As a result, ‘Merlot’ in Chile can be any mixture of Merlot and Crmenere.  At the time of vineyard planting, the difference in the varietals was not known.  Carmenere does not like wet growing seasons or irrigation resulting in aggressive green bell pepper flavors.  Carmenere takes three weeks longer to ripen than Merlot, so it is much better suited to sites with longer, dry growing seasons.  Hence, Carmenere has not done well in Bordeaux. 

Carmenere tends toward low acidity giving it really sweet tasting-fruit.  When it is ripe, the fruit has blackberry, black plum and spice with an array of savory flavors (coffee, grilled meat, celery and soy sauce); the tannins are rich and round.  The flavor profile of Carmenere makes it a good blending partner with Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Roughly 4000 hectares of Cabernet Franc in northern Italy (Veneto, Tretino and Friuli)  is actually Carmenere.

Recommended producers in Chile: Almaviva, Apaltague, Biwquertt, Casa Lapostolle, Concha y Toro, Errazuriz, Los Robles, MontGras and Veramonte.

Torrontes

Torrontes is Argentina’s specialty white varietal.   Torrontes varietal is actually several different varieties, some of which resemble Muscat-like aroma and some are similar to Gewurtraminer.  Torrontes aromas are floral, soapy and sometimes spicy.  The three main varieties going from most aromatic to least aromatic are: Torrontes Riojano (from the La Rioja province in Argentina), Torrontes Sanjuanino (from the San Juan province) and Torrontes Mendocino or Mendozino (found in Rio Negro and the northern end of Patagonia).

The variety seems particularly well adapted to the arid growing conditions of Argentina, especially the high, sandy Cafayate region.  The high altitude (1600m +) helps provide natural high acidity and assertive flavors.

Best producers in Argentina: Etchart, Norton, Michel Torino

Malbec

Malbec is a native grape of south-west France.  It is also known as Cot in the Loire Valley and the South-West of France; in Cahors, it is known as Auxerrois (not to be confused with the white varietal Auxerrois of Alsace).  Malbec is one of the 5 varietals in the Bordeaux blend (Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Malbec, Merlot, Cabernet Franc).  Malbec in Bordeaux has had a rough time of it — graphed to less than suitable rootstocks, cooler climate.  Cuttings from Bordeaux Malbec where brought over to Argentina in 1862.  If you compare the current Malbec vines in Argentina with Malbec in Cahors, you will find there is a significant difference.  Malbec in Argentina has a much larger clonal range than in France.

Malbec prefers higher altitude sites (between 1000 and 1100 meters) and warm climates.  Malbec has a dark purple color, aromas of damson and violets with a soothing ripe tannic structure.  Oak aging can work well but tends to overwhelm the fruit characteristics.  In Cahors, the flavor tends to more dried fruit characteristics — raisins, tobacco and damson skins. 

Best producers in Argentina: Alamos Ridge, Alta Vista, Altos de Temporada, Anubis, Catena, Etchart, Medalla, Norton, Terraza de Los Andes, Michel Torino, Trapiche and Weinert.  Best producers in Chile: Montes, MontGras, Morande, Valdivieso, Vina Casablanca.

Tannat

In Uruguay, Tannat is increasing in quality; it is marked by fine, ripe tannins and elegant blackberry fruit.  The newer French clones of Tannat tend to produce higher alcohol wines but are simplier than the wine from the old-vine brought over from France originally.

Best producers in Uruguay: Establecimiento Juanico, Castel Pujol, and Hector Stagnari.

20 Oct 2008 Malbec Madness!
 |  Category: Wine Review  |  Tags: , ,  | Leave a Comment

As part of a birthday party celebration for a wonderful friend, Mary Pat, we did a tasting of 7 Malbecs brought by Mary Pat’s husband, Wolfgang.  The 7 Malbecs were:

1) 2007 Achaval Ferrer, Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina ($18.99)
2) 2006 Bodega Catena Zapata, Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina ($16.65)
3) 2007 Elsa Bianchi, Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina ($7.99)
4) 2005 Belasco De Baquedano, Llama, old vine Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina ($11.99)
5) 2005 Famiglia Bianchi, Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina ($16.00)
6) 2007 Dominio Del Plata, Crios De Susana Balbo, Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina ($12.99)
7) 2006 Dominio Del Plata, Ben Marco, Malbec, Mendoz, Argentina ($17.99)

The wines were tasted blind accompanied with a Thanksgiving style feast of turkey with a light mole sauce, Cornish game hens, spicy zinfandel cranberry sauce, roasted root vegetables, a green salad (ruby grapefruit, avocado, pomegranite seeds and mixed greens).  There were 15 people tasting the wine; as you might expected there was no clear #1 selection of the wine.

I ranked the wines in the following order of favorite to least:
#4, #2, #6, #5, #7, #1 and #3.

The remarkable thing about the tasting was how close all the wines were to each other in taste profiles and mouthfeel.  #4, #2, #6, #5, and #7 had fairly equal concentration and mouthfeel with #1.  #3 was the only wine that had a noticable drop in mouth feel from the others.  The bright fruit flavors of the 2007 changed only slightly when compared to the 2005. 

Malbec from Argentina is fantastic value if you are looking for an easy drinking bold red that goes well with spicy meat dishes or game birds.  The tannic structure of Argentinian Malbec is much softer than Malbec from the Cahors region of France.  The winemaking style in Argentina is clearly being geared for people who enjoy ‘New World’ styled wines — fruit forward, soft tannins and moderate acidity.  If you are looking for a hardier version of Malbec, try a well aged Cahors and you will not be disappointed at all!