This story was written by member Eleuthera and comes from the Wine Cellar group in the YumSugar Community.I recently had a chance to attend a wine tasting for Flichman from Argentina. I especially enjoyed the experience because I had a chance to chat with the winemaker, Luis Cabral de Almeida. From my standpoint, it didn't hurt that he was pretty hot also. We began with a bottle of their Chardonnay for $8. Frankly, I didn't want to taste a bottle of $8 Chardonnay as I hate that overly oaked buttery flavor of vanilla predominating, but I was pleasantly surprised. It was delightful and easily equal to wines I have enjoyed at twice the price. In fact everyone of the wines' price points was spectacular.
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Although there were some I preferred more than others, I enjoyed all of them. All the others, with the exception of an interesting and delightful champagne (for about $8!!) were red. In fact, even the champagne was made in part from Malbec also! The biggest surprise of the afternoon was how much I enjoyed Malbec.
Several years ago a friend tried to tell me how great the Argentinian (and Chilean) Malbecs were, but I wouldn't even taste them. However, the grape I knew from living in Bordeaux was a far cry from the one I finally tasted in South America: Malbecs from Argentina are rich, jammy, and luscious with some surprising complexity. Malbec thrives in Argentina, Luis explained, because of the low humidity. This explains their ability to get the delightful jammy qualities which I thoroughly enjoy.
One I liked is called Gestos (2007) (gestures in English) and it was made from Malbec at two different elevations. You have to be careful because there are several varieties of Gestos, including one with Cabernet. The first thing one notices was the lovely aromas, like blackberries and maybe blueberries. The taste was even richer with jammy qualities mixed with the French oak and the earthy background.
Luis was kind enough to explain to me at length that he uses two different elevations of Malbec in order to achieve an extremely well-rounded wine. It is somewhat interesting that Argentina seems one of the few places where this combination can be exploited, although to a lesser degree, California winemakers have been touting mountain grown fruit for years. I rated this wine at least 88 points and perhaps even 89 out of 100. It was $12 or 13 and worth every penny.
Another wine I liked and purchased was the 2007 Expresiones reserve which was 60% Malbec and 40% Cabernet. I would rate this slightly better, perhaps 89-90 points as it had a lingering finish. The complexity reminded me greatly of a Bordeaux style wine and it had the great structure of the Cabernet with the luscious sweet berry qualities of the Malbec. Personally I think this will do better with a few years of patience, although it is delightful now.
The last one I tasted was called Dedicado (2004) and it was clearly the top of the line. At almost $20 it was hitting my price point, but rarely have I had a wine this good for this money...so I bought two. The bottle weighs a ton and it is a mixture of Cabernet, Syrah, and Malbec (30%,10% and 60%). It spends 12 months in new French french oak and 12 months in the bottle according to the label, but I thought Luis told me this one spent 2 years in wood. In short, I thought the result was stunning, perhaps even 91-92 points. The deep intensity and aroma of the berries and black pepper is wonderful and its opulence is nothing short of amazing with a lovely lingering finish. It will benefit from a year or two more in my estimation but it's fantastic just the way it is, at least with an hour or two of breathing.
Because of the high inflation in Argentina and the fact that they are tied to the Euro which is strong (the owners are a Portuguese group) the wines get the benefit of great prices on oak barrels. As far as price point is concerned, I thought each of these wines was wonderful and they certainly impressed me a great deal. Luis wasn't all that bad either!
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