Thursday, May 2, 2013

Washington Malbec v. Argentina

The Giro d’ Italia starts this weekend.  It is a race with great national pride and Italian’s are always motivated to win their country’s championship.

Just like the Giro, the Malbec grape is the source of great national pride.  Not in France where the grape originated.  No, the nation that prides itself on Malbec is Argentina.  Argentina has adopted the Malbec grape and made it the king variety of their country.

To honor the pride of Argentina (and Malbec Day) this week’s challenge features Malbec Madness.  In a match that sees the opponents going to extremes similar to Mad Magazine’s Spy vs. Spy we have Washington vs. Argentina.

2009 Laurelhurst Cellars Malbec v. 2010 Hand of God Old Vine Malbec

Tale of the Tape

 2009 Laurelhurst Cellars Malbec

100% Malbec primarily sourced from the Gamache Vineyard with some Boushey thrown in for good measure.

Aged in 80% new French Oak Barrels.

Sample provided by the winery.  Available for $30 direct from Laurelhurst Cellars.

2010 Hand of God Old Vine Malbec

100% Malbec from vines planted in the 19202 in the Stolen Horse Vineyard located in the Maipu region of Argentina.

Aged for 20 months in 100% new French Oak.

Made by the Master of Malbec Santiago Achaval.

Provided as a sample by the winery.  Available to purchase for $75 direct from the winery or at fine wine shops such as Wine World in Seattle.

Round 1. First opening

The Laurelhurst Luchador is playing the part of the White Spy and it isn't messing around. Dropping a bomb on the Hand of God.  The nose is showing dusty dark fruit, plums, leather, coffee and menthol spice.  The palate is full and driven with dusty black cherry, menthol and cassis spices with some cocoa powder and coffee bean tartness that lingers around to an all spice finish.

The Black Spy set a decoy for Laurelhurst. The bomb dropped, but the spy was not home.  The nose is reminiscent of an elementary school gym - ripe with rubber ball, plum and hints of sandalwood. The palate is tart and dominated by red rubber ball. 

A warning was issued to watch out for mercaptans in the Hand of God.  At the end of round one it is clear that the warning was well founded.  Even though the Laurelhurst Spy fell for the Black Spy's decoy it was still the clear winner of round one.

Round 2. One hour after opening

The White Spy is plotting a new attack, digging a large pit to lure the Black Spy in to. The Laurelhurst is evolving with the nose showing black cherry, cola, eucalyptus spices and dusty cocoa. The palate is lively and bold with black cherry, dusty cocoa and menthol spices with a tart coffee bean spiced finish.

The Black Spy from Argentina seems to be laying down a false trail to lure the White Spy away from Black Spy command center.  The scent is strong in the false trail.  Hand of God is showing a nose that is still ripe with strong rubber character along with some dark fruit lurking in the background.  The palate is similar with some slight cocoa and tart spices on the finish. 

The Hand of God is coming around, but not fast enough to avoid falling into the pit of despair dug by the White Spy. Score another round for Laurelhurst.

Round 3. One day after opening

According to the battle strategy, this is the round where the Hand of God will smite the White Spy from Washington.

The Argentinian Black Spy is working overtime to turn the tables.  The nose is big and spicy with black licorice, orange peal and chocolate and cinnamon mole' spices.  The palate is dark and brooding with dark fruit, licorice and cocoa leading the way to a tart coffee bean spiciness on a dry finish.

After two rounds of playing possum the Black Spy is finally coming out to play.

The White Spy from Laurelhurst is countering with steely resolve. The nose is showing dark fruit with some floral notes floating over rich cocoa and annis spice.  The palate shows black cherry, toffee, coffee bean and cocoa with a slightly dry dusty spiced finish.

Wrap up and overall observations.

This Spy v Spy battle was devious with plenty of twists, deceits and sleight of hand mischief.  The White Spy from Laurelhurst took the match in three rounds.  However, the battle spilled over into the street and lasted for several more days.

The Laurelhurst White Spy was ready to go and on the attack from the get go.  As a counter point the Hand of God Black Spy was lurking in the shadows waiting for just the right opportunity to destroy its arch enemy.

Both wines showed serious stamina with the edge in longevity going to the Hand if God. In fact, I would recommend giving this evil spy a day or two of air for maximum enjoyment.

Drink the Laurelhurst now and let the Hand of God rest in your cellar for a few more years to see how it evolves.  My guess is that both of these excellent Malbecs will be drinking well for years to come.

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