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28 Apr 2019 | Jessica Martinez

Indulging in the Higher End of Argentine Malbec

Malbec found its place in Argentina in 1852 when the first vines were brought over from France. The Argentine wine world didn’t truly find its stride until the late 1980s early 1990s when they began to focus on the quality of the production of wine instead of the quantity.   This put them in the international market as true competitors.


Malbec was originally from the Southwest of France in the Cahors region and made its way to Argentina in 1852 where it became the flagship varietal of Argentina.  The Mendoza region contains 86% of the Malbec vineyards in Argentina, and Lujan de Cuyo was the first DOC in Argentina where they began the regulation of the production and quality of Malbec in Argentina.


Here are a few of the wines I'll be introducing at our upcoming First Fridays 7 at 7 tasting on Friday May 3rd at 7 p.m.:


2015 Catena Zapata Malbec Argentino, Mendoza Argentina

This wine tells the tale of the Malbec grape not only in the bottle but as well as on the label.  Malbec Argentino pays tribute to the variety's history in France and its rise in Argentina. The 4 female figures embody the different landmakrs in the history of the grape. Eleanor of Aquitaine represents the birth of Malbec with her strong old world presence lingering at the bridge in Cahors where balnce came into its own. Next to her the immigrant symbolizes the movement to the New World and the unknown explores and adventures who connected Europe with the Americas. Phylloxera personifies the death of Malbec in the old world, which enabled its rebirth in the new. Finally there is Bodega Catena Zapata represented by Adrianna Catena who depicts the rebirth, earth, and motherhood sharing the riches of the new world.  The berries come from the old vines from the Catena Zapata Family Vineyards, Nicasia and Angelica. The Angelica Vineyard is at 3,0`8 ft in the Lounlunta District in Mendoza adjacent to a dry river bed with light gravel , loam and clay.  The Nicasia Vineyard is at 3,593 ft in elevation in the La Consulta District, Uco Valley, in Mendoza with very shallow loamy topsoil with surface gravel and large stones on a dry riverbed with optimal drainage. As you would expect everything with this wine is done by hand. 20% whole cluster and 80% whole berry fruit is hand-loaded into 225-500 liter new French Oak barrels for 100% barrel fermentation for a period of 30 days allowing seamless oak integration. The wine is aged in French Oak barrels for 18 months. Finally onto the wine itself, it has a dark violet color and nose of cassis, blueberries, and violets.  A rounded fully body and gripping tannic structure there are highlights of mocha, dark berries, spice, and minerality wiith a longevity and a dominate finish of ripe black and blue fruits.

$113.99 per bottle


Colome 2014 Altura Maxima Malbec, Salta Argentina

The Hess Family found itself in Argentina searching for the perfect place to plant Malbec. He joined forces with Bodega Colomé and their highest vineyard “Altura Maxima” which means maximum height because it happens to be the highest vineyard in the world. This sparse vineyard only holds malbec and produces very low yields; these yields are special because of the high altitude and the intensity it instills in the berries. The altitude of the grapes means they experience a more intense amount of UV rays, which in turn gives them thick-dark skins. They only have 23 acers of sustainably farmed vines that were planted in 2007. The low yields means only 27 barrels of this wine was produced. The thick-dark skin from the wine creates a wine that is dark in color and complex in aroma with an amazing tannic structure. This wine has intense aromas of hazelnut and spice with dark plum, baked cherry, and mulled berry flavors. Dark chocolate and espresso linger on a powerful finish.

$123.99 per bottle


2012 Tapiz Black Tears, Uco Valley, Mendoza Argentina

This 100% Malbec is from a single vineyard from San Pablo Estate in Uco valley, Mendoza Argentina. The wine is fermented in stainless steel tanks for approximately 15 days then goes through a 100% malolatic fermentation in 100% first use French oak for 24 months then kept back in the bottle for 12 months before being released. This wine has an intense purple red color and aromas of ripe red fruits, dried plums and a hint of fig, with a subtle floral and hints of menthol. The oak adds notes of roasted coffee and dark chocolate. This weighty wine has ripe tannins with hints of cocoa on the long finish. It pairs perfectly with skirt steak and chimichuri. 

$49.99 per bottle


2011 Don Nicanor Nieto Senetiner Malbec, Lujan de Cuo, Mendoza, Argentina

This Estate Vineyard is located at the foot of the Andes Mountains and provides this wine with unique characteristics achived from the best combination of altitude, climate and soil. This wine is sourced from two vineyards Vistalba and Agrelo Vineyards with an average vine age of 30 years with loamy topsoil, round rock subsoil at an elevation of 3,120 and 3,450ft above sea level. This wine is a deep red with a touch of a purple hue. With aromas of cherries, plums, clove, vanilla, and smoke this elegant and complex Malbec is rich and round on the palate with balanced flavors of red fruit and spice.

$40.99 per bottle


2017 Luca Malbec Paraje Altamira, Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina

It is hard to get away from the Catena family when it comes to wine in Argentina, this wine was born our of Laura Catena’s vision of creating a new breed of argentina wines: small quantities, artisan quality and true to their individual terroir. Luca is names after Laura’s first son and it symbolizes her love for her family. The average vineyard elevation is 3,600 feet with an average vine age of 16 years.  The grapes are hand-harvested and aged in 12 months in 30% new French barrels and 70% 2nd use French barrels. This wine has notes of black cherry and dark berry with hints of violet, vanilla and mocha. Deep and dense on the palate with round tannins it is a great expression of Malbec from the sunny days and cold nights of Altamira.

$24.99 per bottle


2015 Ayni Malbec Vino de Parcela Gravas, Mendoza, Argentina

This wine is already aged for 12 months in 3000 liter oak founders and only 2000 bottles of it are produced. This wine comes from on of the smaller plots (only about 20 hectors) in Paraje Altamira, Valle De Uco.  The Ayni Vineyard was planted on virgin soils and the number of small rivers that cross the vineyard increases the complexity of the soils. This wine is only produced with the sections of the vineyard where the calcium carbonate gravels come to the surface and the vines from amongst them with no soil. This deep purple wine has a bit of a leathery and smoky aroma. With the addition of soft peppery flavors as well as black fruit and slowly integrated tannins gives this big bold Malbec a nice balanced finish.

$44.99 per bottle


2013 Tikal Jubilo, Mendoza, Argentina

This wine might be a bit of a cheater because I will admit it isnt 100% Malbec but it is too good not to include in this tasting so I am choosing to share it. Ernesto Caten is a 4th generation winemaker who has designed his vineyards to be biodynamic and to look like sculptures from the sky as well as keeping the surroundings of the vineyards indigenous with natural flora and animals to keep a harmonious atmosphere for grape growing. The grapes are al hand harvested and aged for 16 months in 70% French and 30% American oak barrels. The aging of the wine develops aromas of deep black currant as well as a vanilla oak. The palate follows the lead of the aromas and is filled with black cherry, red currants and a touch of black tea. The layers of flavors unfold onto the palate and leave you with an amazingly long finish.

$36.99 per bottle



Sampling 7 Wines at 7 p.m. for Just $30


Friday May 3, 2019  7 p.m.  $30 tax incl

Jessica Martinez hosts a luxurious tasting of Argentina's national red wines at The Wine Country.

Reservations:  (562) 597-8303

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