The Wine of the Week: Colomé Estate Malbec from Argentina
Malbec is a grape originally from Cahors in southwestern France. But was possibly best known as one of the Bordeaux blending varietals. That is, until it hit the big time in Argentina. The popularity of Malbec from Argentina, (specifically Mendoza), essentially established Argentina as a world-class wine producing country.
Malbec is a black-skinned grape that is especially sensitive to its terroir (climate, geography, geology, etc.). Skin thickness, phenolic ripeness, acidity, and aromatic composition can vary greatly. One of the most impactful variables for Argentine Malbec is the altitude of the vineyards. Lower elevations produce thinner-skinned grapes, lighter-bodied wines, and decent rosés. From the higher the elevations, one can expect thicker-skinned fruit, yielding fuller bodied, often higher quality wines.
The Salta region is the home of Argentina’s highest altitude vineyards. It is also the northern-most winegrowing region in the country. This combination of high altitude and low latitude (closer to the equator) create a distinct terroir. Closer to the equator means more direct sunlight. High in the mountains means cooler climate. Together, the create evenly ripening, thick-skin fruit with well-balanced acidity. The wines are full-bodied, ripe with dark fruit characteristics, and enough acidity to support the intensity of the flavors as the wines age.
Colomé was founded in 1831 and is one of the oldest estates in the region with some of the oldest vines. It also holds the distinction of being the highest altitude vineyards in the world, at over 10,000 feet above sea level. Colomé Estate Malbec is a blend of grapes from four of the estate vineyards from four elevations, each contributing specific characteristics to the blend.
About this Wine
The color of this wine is so deep and inky that it is nearly black and completely opaque with a rich red-violet meniscus. Initial aromas of ash, currant, and plum seem to hover on back notes of ginger blossoms and redwood forest. On the palate ripe juicy blackberries dominate with some dark cherry and a hint of cocoa. The wood characteristics from 15 months barrel aging are well integrated. The tannins are initially tight, but open in the glass to silky smoothness. The acidity is perceived as juicy berries, it provides structure and is well integrated.
This big, lush Malbec from Argentina deserves an equally substantial meal. My first wish is for braised lamb over creamy polenta, though I’m sure it will be equally pleasing with herb-roasted lamb chops or a perfectly prepared steak. Vegetarians: seek out hearty wild mushrooms, porcini especially, prepare whole like a steak on the grill, or as a ragout over the aforementioned creamy polenta.
Explore Argentina beyond Mendoza. You can start with this wonderful example of Malbec from Salta. You’ll also be able to say you tasted the wine made from the grapes grown in the highest elevation in the world. Certainly worth the $25/bottle. It’s how I’m celebrating International Malbec Day 2018!
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