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2011 Aruma Malbec
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- Cellar Drink Now - 5 years (2013-2018)
- ABV 14.5%
- Closure: Cork
Malbec's journey through history is an arduous one. Just how did it find a spiritual home on the upper steps of remote Mendoza and go on to become the current darling of New World wine making? The answer gives us an insight into the rapid and stellar rise (and fall) of various vinous fashions in the modern wine trade. A wine that was favoured by Popes, Kings and Tsars (“the black wine of Lot” was once the sacramental wine of the Russian Orthodox Church) had, by the end of the 19th century, found itself a second fiddle blending component to the great Bordeaux varietals. With the onset of phylloxera the Bordelais decided to reduce their investment in a wine that was originally adopted to compete with the vintners of Cahors and the Lot River region. With further reductions in plantings after the great frosts of 1956 the varietal all but disappeared from the vineyards of Bordeaux. Still the growers in Cahors persisted and increased their acreage after that bitter winter and in 1971 were awarded Appellation de Origin Controlee Status for wine containing a minimum 70% of this rich, black grape. This was to prove fortuitous. Malbec had been on the back foot from the beginning without a stable name. Some 400 synonyms for Malbec exist including the French monikers Côt, Côt Noir, and Auxerrois which are all used in the grape's Central French enclave, Cahors. It's not easy to market something without a label and in the scramble for varietal designations to use in New World Vineyards, the surname of the Hungarian peasant credited with spreading the varietal in Europe was adopted. The grape had arrived in sun drenched Argentina much the same way Carmenere hit Chile, via an enterprising Frenchman, Professor Pouet, in 1868. So we have a new home, and a new name. All that's lacking is a champion and evangelist. We move forward 100 years to find the inimitable Nicolas Catena. The Catena family have been growing grapes for three generations in the rarefied air of Mendoza (at elevations between 800 & 1500 metres) and Nicolas became intrigued with the difference in performance of different plantings at different altitudes. This culminated in the selection (and patenting) of several Malbec clones, the most significant being Catena clones 13 to 17. The selection was driving for “very high level of poly-phenols; a low level of tannins, and high colour intensity.” So now we have an accepted title, a driven advocate and, most importantly for the modern wine market, a standardisation of what to expect from the variety via careful clonal selection and stable seasonal conditions. And this is the secret to many great success stories in New World wine making. Think Cabernet Sauvignon from California, Shiraz from South Australia, and the monstrous success of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. Success can however be your undoing. All these stable elements can lead to the impression of easy money, with boom followed by bust as less sensitive practitioners come on board and create parodies of the original concept – caricatures of wine if you like. Both quality and reputation suffer, then along comes the next big thing and the market leaves your vineyards to rot. Think Cabernet Sauvignon from California, Shiraz from South Australia and Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.
So why are we presenting a variety that is often too soft, too jubey to aspire to the kinds of value we strive to deliver? The difference here is history turned full circle – enter the French. The great First Growth Chateau, Lafite Rothschild, expanded into Argentina making their presence known through a co-venture with Catena – Bodegas Caro (the name itself - Catena Rothschild - refers to the joint efforts of these two families). Bringing French flair for blending and crafting, these latest offerings from the Bodegas represent a perfect harmony of New World inventiveness with Old World tradition. Crafted from Malbec vines up to thirty years old, using the best French cooperage and blended skillfully from a broad range of clonal material and altitudes, and in the case of Amancaya, a good splash of Cabernet to provide structure for keeping. The results are a cut above the predictable supermarket blandness many Argentinian producers are now turning out. Once again, we've dealt directly with Caro to ensure these wines arrive into Australia at extraordinary price points.
In 2010, Wine Spectator’s wine critic Matt Kramer declared, “There is no greater value in red wine anywhere in the world today than Argentine malbec.” Aruma certainly adds wait to his argument. Tasting Note….
Totally opaque black dark purple colour with deep dark red purple hue. The nose displays lifted aromas of very dark cherries followed by some meaty characters, earth, cedar and spice. The palate overdelivers possessing rich mouthfilling flavours of ripe black cherries, a touch of liquorice, some meaty characters and a spicy back palate. Amazing concentration and fruit density for it’s price point with very supportive, yet fine grained tannins. Long black cherry, liquorice, dried meat and spice aftertaste.
Drink over the next 4-5 years (2013-2018).