Last Thursday was World Malbec Day. It was also a day when the pro cyclists were resting their legs and getting ready for Amstel Gold, the first hilly Spring Classic. If you look at the profile of this race in the Ardennes region you might think you were looking at a well used comb! This race had over 20 climbs. Each one has a name and a certain character. Most are short, with at least one brutally steep section. For example, the Keutenberg has sections with grades of 20%
The three one day races that make up the Ardennes Classics are often a war of attrition with the winner typically making a powerful move on one of the final climbs. This year's Amstel Gold followed the formula and former World Champion Phillipe Gilbert made the winning move on the final ascent of the Cauberg to take his third Amstel Gold victory.
There aren't many wines being made in the Ardennes region of Belgium. So, this week the Lucha Vino challenge features two Malbecs battling it out in honor of World Malbec Day.
Olsen Estates 2009 Malbec v. Bodega Goulart Clasico 2011 Malbec
Tale of the Tape
This was the last vintage for the Olsen Estates winery. The good news is that they are still growing and selling grapes from their exceptional vineyard located in the Yakima Valley.
The other good news is that their wine maker, Kyle Johnson, is now the owner/wine maker at Purple Star. If you liked the Olsen Estates wines you should definitely check out Purple Star.
Purchased from Full Pull wines for $15.99.
Bodegas Goulart 2011 Clasico
100% Malbec from the Don Jose Vineyard in Mendoza Argentina which sits at 3,000 feet above sea level.
Aged for 6 months in cement tanks and then 4 more in bottle.
Purchased for $11 at Bin 41
Round 1. First opening
The Goulart Mendoza Maniac hits the ring first with serious intent. The nose is bold with earthy dark cherries, currants, light cracked pepper and some candle wax. The palate delivers a one-two punch with smoky cracked pepper, dark cherries and cedar spices that wraps up with a slightly sweet tart and spicy finish.
The Olsen Estates Malbec is counter attacking with a nose that features blueberry, plum, candle wax and sweet floral spices. The palate is throwing a wrinkle at the Mendoza challenger with tart notes of dried flowers and dry cedar spices tailing off with a finish that is sweet and tangy.
The Goulart from Argentina is a raw talent featuring plenty of earthy funkiness while the Olsen is more restrained and lush. The first round goes to Goulart as a result of that raw power.
Round 2. One hour after opening
The Goulart is showing a power evolution with a nose that features smoky and funky dark sweet fruit, plums, loganberry and black cherry along with some dusty spices. The palate is similarly dark with tart funky white pepper spices and a dried brambly finish.
Olsen strikes back with a vengeance drawing on a consistent attack of blueberries and light sweet menthol spices on the nose along with a palate that shows more blueberry and tart white pepper notes backed up by a tart herbal black cherry finish.
The Luchador from Washington is demonstrating strength by way of consistency taking round two with a devasting series of body slams.
Round 3. One day after opening
The Goulart is staggering and slightly dazed. This might be as far as that raw talent can take the Mendoza Maniac. With the match all even after two rounds the winner of round 3 will take the match.
Goulart starts out with a nose of funky sandalwood, dark fruit, berries and dusty cracked pepper. The palate is surprisingly different with sweet dark plums, black berries and dark sweet spices that lead to a slightly sweet cherry bark finish.
The challenger from Argentina is looking vulnerable. Can Olsen finish off the match? I think so! The Olsen estates fires off the last round with that familiar nose of blueberries backed up with dusty tart spices and some herbal mint like notes. The palate is where things are really starting to evolve for this Malbec, it features dark berries, mintlike herbal spices and light notes of licorice and cocoa powder that are both repeated on a slightly dry finish.
It's all over for the Mendoza Maniac. Olsen estates finishes off the match with a strong showing in round 3 to take the victory.
Wrap up and overall observations.
The Goulart is a nice earthy, rustic, Malbec. For 11 dollars you will be hard-pressed to find something better. It was best on day one and I would recommend finishing this one off the same day you open it.
The Olsen Malbec was richer and had more staying power. It will be a sad day when I drink the last bottle in my cellar. When that happens I know I can look for other wineries sourcing their Malbec from the Olsen vineyard.