There is nothing like travelling on a wine media tour to really understand the grapes of a country or region. I have yet to visit Argentina or Cahors in France to make insightful general comparisons on their differing styles of Malbec. But I’ll try and see where my general experience leads us. Argentinian Malbecs produced with grapes grown at lower altitudes have a certain plushness and lushness to them. As the altitude increases, they tighten up and become more “disciplined”. Malbecs from Cahors would be firmer.
So we try a Mission de Picpus 2018 Malbec from Cahors. On the palate there is nothing oozing and gushing but rather a strict assemblage of blackberry, cassis, black cherry and a dose of sour cherry. On the palate a rather traditional French style of many of their red wines and that is the fruit saying, “I am hiding. Come and find me.” A peek a boo Malbec? Concentrate and you’ll find notes of black cherry and black plum encircled by moderate tannins. The finish is short. I think 3-4 years in the bottle will loosen up the wine but free and easy I think it will never be. For cinematographic comparisons this is Julie Andrews in “The Sound of Music”. It would suit a Greek Stifado (stew) of wild rabbit or octopus.
(Mission de Picpus 2018 Cahors Malbec, Vignobles Saint Didier Parnac, Parnac, France, $15.25, Liquor Control Board of Ontario # 10573, 750 mL, 14%, Robert K. Stephen A Little Birdie Told Me So Rating 89/100).
Now to an Argentinian Malbec from ace winemaker Susana Balbo from grapes grown at 1,500 metres altitude in Mendoza. On the palate it is definitely fleshier that the Cahors Malbec. It has a rather expansive nose of blueberry, blueberry pie and some deep blackberry notes. On the palate you are zapped with loads of blueberry. It’s a lip smacker but not jammy. This is no Julie Andrews wine but I can see Dean Martin and Marilyn Monroe enjoying a glass of this over a big steak dinner after Dean’s show in Las Vegas.
The 4% Merlot helps give the wine some lushness. The wine spent 13 months in French oak 30% of which was new and 70% which was seasoned. Enjoy with a steak and a Dean Martin recording in the background. This one is a real crowd pleaser. I would say it will hold well into 2024.
(Susana Balbo 2019 Signature Malbec, Valle de Uco, Mendoza, Argentina, $20.95, Liquor Control Board of Ontario # 79798, 14.5%, 750 mL, Robert K. Stephen A Little Birdie Told Me So Rating 94/100).