Let me first begin by announcing that I have not been a personal fan of the Malbec grape for a very long time.
Thank you for letting me air that.
There is something about the mix between earthiness and spice, that just does not toot my horn. That is alright, of course, since when it comes to wine, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, right? So, of course, when I went to purchase a few bottles of wine at an American grocery chain (with great wine prices, I might add) to bring up to my vacation spot last week, I decided to pick up a bottle of the 2011 Alamos Malbec to drink. Who would do that to themselves? Namely, choose a wine that did not tickle his or her fancy for many years? Me. The devil and angel were each sitting on their respective shoulders battling it out:
Devil: “Just try it, Valerie! Spend your hard-earned money on something you do not like!”
Angel: “Come on, Valerie, what has your experience been? Let us be rational here…”
You know where this story is going…to the check-out.
So, here I was, the evening of July 18th, 2012, with an opened bottle of Alamos. The evening sun was setting in Holden Village. I was seated on the second floor porch swing of Lodge 2, and the clear, medium ruby liquid was aerating in my glass. I decided to let it sit for a while before attempting the trial, as the Malbec grape commonly produces strong heady wines. Being generally eager to try new vino, I began my tasting journey. Colour and clarity – check! My nose inhaled a delightfully light and fruity bouquet, but with huge overtones of anise and toasty peppery oak. Bouquet and clarity – check! Now, for the palate evaluation. Initially hot on the tongue, I willingly admit I was not ready for what was coming. The dry, full-bodied earthiness was definitely present, as well as the typical peppery spice that holds the hand of that earthiness. However, what I experienced was more than just a communion of earth and spice. My palate was greeted by well-integrated oak, smokey tobacco nuances, red silky tannins, and a leathery backbone. This was turning out to be an adventure I was not prepared for, but it was a journey that I was willing to let myself succumb to. The long finish screamed of cracked, dry, dusty dirt, and I loved it. The chatter from friends around me seemed to disappear, as the Alamos spoke to me. I concluded that it was time to let some guards down.
Argentina is the place to buy Malbecs from, which is partly the reason why I jumped in head first with my vacation purchase. A number of Argentinian wineries have changed their philosophies over the last decade, in order to start making wines that can, and will, be competitive in the international markets. Big money is being invested in Argentina’s wine world, and as a result, it is booming. Kevin Zraly, in his 2008 edition of Windows on the World: Complete Wine Course notes, “Until recently, Argentina was more interested in producing inexpensive bulk wines. Now its winemakers are beginning to understand the worldwide demand for quality wines” (156). Argentina has, when all is said and done, perfected the Malbec grape. I am overjoyed to see and experience this! Afterall, if that perfection had not been bottled, maybe I would have been sitting on that porch drinking something completely intolerable.
Thank you, Argentina!
Learn more about Alamos wines here: