Saturday, January 17, 2015

Washington Malbec v. Mendoza

Let's kickoff the new year in Argentina.  Those are the words you are likely to hear from a wine drinker that favors Malbec.  Those are also the words you are likely to hear from many professional road cyclists at this time of year.

One of the first popular stage races of the year takes place in Argentina.  The warmer weather makes it a great place for the pros to start their race schedule as they build toward their season's major race objectives that will take place in Italy, France or Spain.

The Tour de San Luis gives the riders a chance to knock the rust off and begin to put some race miles into their legs.  It also gives us a great chance to see how Washington Malbec stacks up against Argentinian Malbec.

Argentina has become the new home of Malbec ever since France dropped Malbec like a bike racer that just failed their latest out of competition drug test.

On to our first Lucha Vino challenge of the new year.  Where, neither of the combatants have failed a drug test (at least as far as we know...).

2008 Nota Bena Malbec vs. 2010 Achaval Ferrer Mendoza Malbec

Tale of the Tape

2008 Nota Bene Malbec

100% Malbec from the Verhey vineyard in the Yakima Valley AVA.

Aged for 22 months in oak barrels: 15% New Bulgarian Oak, the remainder in seasoned French Oak.

Purchased at the winery on special offer for $15.

2010 Achaval Ferrer Mendoza Malbec

100% Malbec from three vineyards with vines ranging from 13 to 86 years old

Purchased at Total Wines for $23.99.

Round 1.  First Opening

The Achaval luchador is aggressive from the get go.  This Malbec displays a powerful attacking style that features a nose that is alive with funky earthiness and smoky plum and blackberries. The palate is not as dark, featuring notes of cherry, raspberry, dry leather and tart cedar spices that continue on to the finish that is dry and slightly spicy.

Nota Bene fights back with agility that takes Achaval by surprise.  The nose is showing dry floral violet notes followed by hints of vanilla and lavender spices.  The palate starts out juicy with notes of black cherry followed by tart menthol and cocoa tinged spices all wrapped up in a slightly spicy finish.

Round 1 goes to Nota Bene as the result of the surprise attack.

This match is going to be close with these two luchadors bringing distinctly different Malbec styles to the ring.

Round 2.  One hour after opening

Achaval continues to bring the power coming in off the top rope with a nose that is now showing sandalwood, leather and dusty dark currants, cherries and hints of blood orange.  The palate has notes of tart plum, currant and cherries with a dry finish that features subtle hints of semi-sweet chocolate.

The Nota Bene luchador is remaining calm and smooth counter attacking with a nose of raspberries, orange peel and hints of cream soda and menthol spices.  The palate is rich and robust with black cherries, menthol and mole' spices that are followed by a nice dry finish.

Nota Bene barely withstood another wicked Achaval attack.  That makes the score 2-0 in favor of the Washington State Luchador.

Round 3.  One day after opening

The Achaval is evolving and growing more savy with its attacking style.  The character of this Argentinian luchador is gaining savoriness with a nose of plum, dusty leather and all spice.  The palate is featuring dry plums, olives and hints of cocoa on the finish.

Nota Bene is showing some impressive stamina building on its agility with more power.  The nose is darker with notes of currant, black cherry and creamy menthol and eucalyptus spices.  The palate is equally bold with currants, black cherries and light dry cinnamon cocoa mole' spices that linger on to the finish.

Nota Bene takes the third, and final, round to make this victory a shut out in favor of Washington State.

Wrap up and overall observations

This was an interesting match with two distinctly different styles of Malbec.  The Achaval was very savory, a style that I had not experienced with Argentinian Malbecs in the past.  The Nota Bene was juicy and uniquely spicy.

Both of these Malbecs are drinking well now and I would recommend seeking them out.

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