NWC – 7th Feb – Malbec

After our foray into some little known grapes last week we were in familiar territory with one of this country’s favourite grapes, Malbec. My perception is probably tainted by how ubiquitous it is and I don’t see it as too ‘serious’ but could a full tasting on it change my mind?

Duo du Midi, 2022 is a 50/50 blend with Cabernet Franc from the Languedoc. Pretty light ruby in the glass with a red fruited nose and some carbonic maceration notes, though not full banana or bubblegum. The palate was a little more mixed berry and forest fruits, maybe a touch of elderberry bitterness. At £7.25 from The Wine Society I was surprised at how light the wine was and more dominated by the cab franc but pretty content at the value for money.

From the Languedoc to Bergerac now and Le Gloire de Mon Pere, Château Tour des Gendres, 2020. Another blend but 53% Malbec, 35% Cab Sauv and 12% Cab Franc. Much more concentrated and purple in the glass although a muted nose which I struggled to pick much from. The palate was a little more defined with black cherry but still quite one dimensional, some dry and dusty tannins perhaps lacking some acidity too. £13.50

Our first 100% Malbec, and its ancestral home of Cahors. Marcel Malbec, du Cèdre, Vin de France 2022 did not seem typical of other Malbec’s from this region. It had a natural wine nose of red apple, the palate quick stalky with tart red currants and cranberries. Very much at the entry level at £7.75 but nowhere near as appealing as wine 1 which was similarly cheap.

To the Loire. There’s a fair bit of Malbec around those parts although known locally at Cot. This was Cuvée Albert Denis, Domaine de la Renaudie 2021 from Touraine. A little sweet spice on the nose here and generally more typical of Malbec but still quite simple on the palate. The best balance of any wine so far, though little competition frankly.

The popularity of Malbec in this country is primarily wines from Argentina and our first of the evening was a young one from the Uco, Quimay 2022. Immediately more expressive and intense than those before, black cherry and sweetly spiced nose. The palate was a juicy ripe mix of blackcurrant and black berry with a few green notes. Pretty short in length but what I expect of a £14 Malbec.

Petit Clos, Clos Triguedina, 2020 took us back to Cahors although with 15% of Merlot alongside Malbec (appellation rules state 70% Malbec required if you’re interested). Initially I was enjoying the nose, the first of the evening to have some perfumed notes and initially the palate was quite open with black fruits but the wine really lacked acidity and the middle and end of the palate became soupy. £12.95

Apparently Weinert Malbec Mendoza 2012 is already a bit of a cult classic, at least among Wine Soceity customers. It’s just sold out but they have been selling this vintage until recently at £15.50 and it really was a step above anything we’d had before. It was also not your average Malbec, having spent may years in large oak foudres and only recently being released. Everything put me in mind of a good Rioja Reserva. Sweet cedarwood nose, touch of leather and on the palate clear aged and old oak but still and some dried fruit and fig to compliment the still singing berry notes. Great value and I can see its popularity with with more serious and casual drinkers.

Sticking in South America El Esteco, Don David, Malbec, 2021 felt like the kind of wine from this continent that really doesn’t get me excited. A fair amount of oak but in a modern/young Bordeaux style. Not much fruit on the nose, some stewed strawberry. Some green pepper on the palate along with cherry and a little herbal note. The most appealing a touch of bitter chocolate on the finish. £16

Our final wine from over in the Americas and it was nice to try something with a bit of age. If we were in Rioja Reserva territory with the Weinert this was Gran Reserva level. Again a current release the Clos des Fous, Tocao, 2013 had bags of vanilla on the nose with maybe a touch of VA. The palate was very well balanced and lots of interesting notes including; blueberry, plum, coffee, chocolate, liquorice. £26 and my probably WOTN

To finish back to Cahors for a trio, firstly from a producer we had earlier. Clos Triguedina, Cuvée Prestige Probus, 2018 was finally in true French Malbec style. Dark and brooding with an oaky prune nose the palate did contain notes of clove alongside a core of blackberry fruits. I think I would prefer this with more evolution, its sweet spiced characteristics not my favourite for now. £38

Georges Vigouroux Chateau de Mercues ‘Cuvee Malbec 6666’, 2018 felt like a more modern incarnation and an indication of the changing style in Cahors? Are producers trying to make a more international style, similar to South America? The nose was dominated by a new oak profile, blackberry and anise running through and really quite grippy tannin. It tasted like posh wine making and generally people at the tasting really enjoyed it but it just didn’t have much character or terrior to really set it apart. £30

Georges Vigouroux Château de Haute-Serre – Georges, 2019 was from the same stable but a different beast all together. This definitely divided opinion across the room, perhaps because we were far from your usual Malbec character and also at £45 it was the most expensive wine of the evening. Many disagreed but I thought it was by far the most interesting and complex wine we had tried. It required serious thought to unpick the character on show. First in the glass there was some raisin and fig characters but later as it developed I got some perfume and even curry leaf. The palate retained a little of that spice but less complexity, cranberry and redcurrant notes.

Overall an interesting reminder that there can be many styles of Malbec other than a fruit bomb that is so ubiquitous and some excellent wines at good value from The Wine Society which would be my most tempting purchases from this range

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