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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Two fabulous, yet contrasting styles of Argentinian Malbec that won't break the bank

Achaval Ferrer, Quimera '05
What makes Achaval Ferrer's line-up so distinctive is the alignment of their deep, vivid colors & rich flavors to such refreshing, almost briskly acidic profiles. Their mile high Malbecs (in the case of Quimera, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc round out the blend) achieve brilliant flavor delineation at very low alcohols, w/ the '05 Quimera displaying a nose of graphite, violet, black currant paste and warm ganache scents, with the slightest hint of orange peel bringing up the aromatic pitch a couple decibels. Things turn Bordeaux-like on the palate, w/ fantastic vibrancy and lift allied to the flavorful palate of sun-baked blue fruits. The wine feels airy in spite of its flavor authority, maintaining great zip from start to finish. I find that the altitude tends to distinguish Argentinian Malbec and to me, none shine brighter than Achaval Ferrer, 92 points.

Nieto Senetiner Cadus, Malbec 2004
I believe that Nieto’s Cadus is all estate fruit from Lujan de Cuyo, and the ’04 vintage is available at retail for 30 dollars and change. This is a complete contrast to Achaval Ferrer, ratcheting up its weight class by more than a few notches (in terms of alcohol and extract). The nose behaves a bit in the vein of a high class Napa Cabernet, weaving in heady scents of spicy hickory smoke, cigar humidor, menthol and spicy black currant notes. A sweet, jammy attack of black and blue fruits gets reeled in by a beefy, tannic spine. Things really stretch out on the finish w/ outstanding depth, presence and palate penetration. Not to quibble over points, but I think Jay Miller was a point or two stingy w/ this big leaguer, 93+ points.

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