Mon 11 Jul 2011
I like the straightforward presentation: The Malbec 2009 of Ricardo Santos. No flim-flam, no artsy-craftsy coyness, no high-falutin’ folderol. Just the facts, ma’am. And at a time when malbec is becoming a little meh in its effectiveness as the so-called great red grape of Argentina and the phrase “the grape they do best in Argentina” is justly disappearing from the Arsenal of Formulaic Wine Terms, this one comes as a treat; it’s a malbec that actually tastes like something in itself and not as an imitation cabernet sauvignon or merlot, whatever the hell merlot might be at the moment. El Malbec 2009 de Ricardo Santos, La Madras Vineyard, Mendoza — the vineyard is at 2,800 feet elevation — aged six months in French and American oak barrels, just enough time to lend the wine some shape and resonance without tainting it with woody notions. The color is vivid dark ruby with a tinge of magenta at the rim; aromas of black currants, mulberries and blueberries beguile the nose even as they take on muscular strains of cedar, tobacco and tar. The wine is a little sappy, mossy and smoky, both in nose and mouth, robust without being rustic, vibrant with clean acidity that enlivens ripe, spicy black and blue fruit flavors. Earthy and slightly leathery tannins are nicely round and chewy and a little dusty, while the texture is vibrant, lithe, sinuous; a touch of violets and graphite animates the finish. 13.9 percent alcohol. Drink now through 2012 or ’13 with grilled pork chops with a spicy dry-rub, barbecue brisket, carne asada or just a good old medium-rare steak. Very Good+. About $19
Global Vineyard Importers, Berkeley, Ca. A sample for review.