Our second Malbec tasting was long overdue in light of how much we enjoy these wines. They did not disappoint us, with the top wines receiving high marks, separated from each other by only two points. And while most wines showed similar wild berry and spice components, we were very pleased with how different each bottle was.
Suzanne was an outstanding guest taster, and Josephine was as reliable as ever, even providing the Berocca to finish the night.
First Place: Luca Malbec 2006 (Altos de Mendoza). Started off with slightly funky aromatics that Andy described as "a business sock". Tasters also noted leather, ink, seaweed, iodine, minerals, leaves, pine needle, and cigar scents. Thick in the mouth, with jam, mint, dark spices, chocolate, and coffee flavors. David enjoyed the attack, which he described as a "big berry explosion", while Andy said "I want to drink this in the library". Plush, velvety texture, with a soft coffee-tinged finish. David, Suzanne, and Andy's favorite of the night. Received 26 points. David's bottle. About $30.
Second Place: Las Perdices Malbec 2008 (Mendoza). Complex nose, showing inner tube, acrylic paint, patchouli, spices, flowers, violets, broken glass, limestone, salt air, and broken stems. Flavors of wild berries, caramel, smoke, bacon, dark chocolate, black pepper, and pink peppercorn. Silky texture. Andy described it as "a mature person", and Josephine felt is was like "Marlene Dietrich". Ali felt it was like an "old experienced man", and Josephine was reminded of "a beautiful shape". Great balance. Josephine's top wine of the night. Received 24 points. Suzanne's bottle. Best value of the night at about $16.
Third Place: Ben Marco Malbec 2008 (Mendoza). Opaque. Tasters were reminded of cola, beets, animal, cherry, wet soil, clove, brown sugar, vanilla, cardamom, Moxie, and smoke on the nose. Andy found "handmade wooden box", while David noted a "a wild quality to it". Spicy on the palate, with honey, cream, wild berry, bitter chocolate, and espresso flavors. Smooth texture, with a spicy finish showing some tartness. Kristin and Ali's favorite. Received 22 points. Josephine's bottle. About $22.
Catena Malbec 2004 (Mendoza). Andy found sautéed onions on the nose, to go with other scents of salty sea air, crushed shells, nori, and sand. David felt "like something's washed up", and Ali said it "smells like an otter". A little thicker in the mouth, with dark ground spices and green bell pepper on the finish. Kristin noted "herb butter". Received 4 points. Kristin's bottle. About $20.
Alamos Malbec 2009 (Mendoza). Funky nose, exhibiting melted milk chocolate, coffee grinds, cream, nutmeg, cinnamon, bubble gum, caramel, sweet onion, and brown Tootsie pop. Andy was reminded of "chive cream cheese". David found "some sort of meat" on the palate, and others tasted beef blood, cream, and candied apples. Some astringency on the finish. Received 2 points. Andy's bottle. About $7.
Layer Cake Malbec 2008 (Mendoza) 2008. Tasters were reminded of matchbook, black cherry, damp concrete, Elmer's glue, cream, black olive, rubber cement, and cinnamon on the nose. A real fruit bomb on the palate, with candied fruit, bananas, stargazer lilies, tropical fruit, acetone, and oranges. Josephine felt it was like "Carmen Miranda". Ali hated it, saying "it's making me sick". No points. Ali's bottle. About $16.