When it comes to making rock star Malbec, it’s all about the perch.
Our wine-of-the-week winner is the Alamos, 2015 Mendoza, Argentina Malbec at $10, and it hails from the rugged Uco Valley, at elevations from 3,000 to 5,000 feet. These are some of the highest vineyards on Earth.
“Because of our altitude, our vineyards get strong sunshine during the day, but the nights become very cold as the heat escapes into the thin air,” said winemaker Lucia Vaieretti. “Our vineyards run up against the Andes, so cold air and strong winds can sweep down from the moutains at night and help cool the vineyards, too.”
The Alamos Malbec is bold with snappy spice.
It has great backbone, yet manages to be fleshy. Aromas of anise and cherry follow through on the palate, and it has nice length. What makes it a standout is its intensity, its bright acidity and its remarkable price for the quality.
Malbec, for the uninitiated, is the flagship grape for Argentina.
“In Mendoza it is produced with a character that can be found nowhere else in the world,” Vaieretti said.
“The high desert vineyards of Argentina are an ideal environment for Malbec, and it is a wine that has shown the rest of the world we can produce delicious, complex and sophisticated wines.”
Malbec is an alternative to traditional wines. It appeals to wine lovers across the spectrum with its rich fruit, touch of spice and balance. In its best incarnations, it’s complex yet approachable.
Vaieretti, 32, graduated in 2006 from Don Bosco in Mendoza, the oldest and most prestigious school of viticulture and enology in South America.
She began working for the Catena Family wineries in Mendoza when she was still in school. Vaieretti became assistant winemaker in 2010, and in 2016 she became head of winemaking.
“I love telling my story because I was just a child when I started working in my parents’ vineyard with them and my brothers and sister,” Vaieretti said.
“When I was little, my job was to look for anthills. As I got older, I got more and more important jobs and eventually got to pick grapes and prune vines. I loved being there. It was hard work but it felt special. I never lost that feeling of being connected to the vineyards.
“By the time I was in high school, I knew I wanted to make wine and stay connected.”
THIS WEEK’S BLIND TASTING
Alamos, 2015 Mendoza, Argentina Malbec, 13.5% alcohol, $10. ★★★★
A Malbec with nice backbone, yet manages to be fleshy. Aromas of cherry and anise follow through on the palate. Nice length. What makes it a standout is its generous fruit, its great acid and price for the quality.
Amapola Creek, 2013 Cuvee Alis, Sonoma Valley Rhone Blend, 14.5%, $48. ★★★★★: A gorgeous Rhone blend. Aromas and flavors of cherry, a hint of pomegranate, herbs and spice. Ripe tannins. Nice length. If you have the disposable income, this is definitely worth the price.
Dashe, 2015 McFadden Farm Potter Valley, Les Enfants Torribbles Zinfandel, 13.2%, $26. ★★★1/2: A refreshing zin weighted to red fruit, with crisp acid and a great undercurrent of subtle spice. Notes of raspberry, mineral and peppery spice. A genteel version of zin. Lovely.
Dutton Goldfield, 2014 Freestone Hill Vineyard, Dutton Ranch, Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, 13.5%, $72. ★★★1/2: A fruit-driven pinot noir with notes of cherry, cranberry, pepper and smoke. Bright acid. Balanced. Well crafted.
Langtry, 2013 Surpentine Meadow, Guenoc Valley Petite Sirah, 13.7%, $40. ★★★1/2: A meaty, smoky petite sirah, but it manages to have a supple texture. Notes of cranberry, mocha and tobacco. Lingering finish.
Peg Melnik’s Tasting Room blog
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