Wednesday, January 28, 2009
This weekend's Wall Street Journal "Tastings" article featured the results of a Malbec tasting. It could not have been more timely. As it was being inked I was writing up a Malbec from Argentina for Monday's club shipment - the Finca Sophenia 2007 Reserver Malbec ($19).
This wine was selected for my club members for much the same reasons Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher describe in their article - it provides an interesting change of pace at an affordable price.
Read their full article here -http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123274529050711187.html?mod=dist_smartbrief
I think the most interesting aspect of their article is that, while the varietal is enjoying a rapid ascent in popularity, they found many samples to be quite unpleasant. This is exactly what earned Merlot such vehement opposition from wine geek Miles Raymond in the movie Sideways - every grower and winemaker wanted in on the action and began planting Merlot vines in inappropriate places, and/or over-cropped the hell out of the vines, resulting in large quantities of uninteresting wines.
Great winegrowers will tell you - over and over again, if you let them - that great wine begins in the vineyard, and that the producer can mess up great grapes, but can not fix bad grapes. They view their role as a caretaker, and seek to make wine only from the best fruit possible. In the case of Malbec, or at least the poor quality ones, it seems the wine is being overly manipulated to cover up bad fruit. Acid may be added. Oak barrels (or more likely staves, or chips or tea bags of oak shavings) are being relied upon to lend flavors to otherwise bland grapes.
This is a slippery slope. But you can help! By purchasing and sharing only Malbecs known to be of good quality, you make the most important vote you can make. Hopefully, your message to the producers in Argentina will be loud and clear.
I can stand behind the Finca Sophenia. For additional options, refer to the wines reviewed in the WSJ article here - http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123274529050711187.html?mod=dist_smartbrief
Dave the Wine Merchant
"First come the innovators, who see opportunities that others don't. Then come the imitators, who copy what the innovators have done. And then come the idiots, whose avarice undoes the very innovations they are trying to use to get rich."
~ Warren Buffett (1930 - ?)
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