Tasting Notes: Black fruit, tobacco, chocolate, spice, and violets, plum, blueberry, vanilla, chocolate and tobacco.
Pairings: Korean barbeque (kalbi, kalbi, and more kalbi), blue and Taleggio cheeses, chocolate, teriyaki beef.
Price (approximately): $14
Producer: Bodega Norton
Region: Mendoza, Argenina
A perennial value wine from a value region! Some Old World wonks may scoff at South American wines, but they have been producing wine for a LONG time, and down in this hemisphere Malbec finds its home away from home.
Bodegas Norton has developed a reputation in Argentina and beyond for consistently high-quality, value wines. The wine’s beautiful dark purple color is the first inviting characteristic, soon followed by expressive aromas of black fruit, tobacco, chocolate, spice, and violets. On the palate, a velvety body showcases a black fruit profile with accents of plum, blueberry, vanilla, chocolate and tobacco. Fruit-forward, concentrated with medium tannins and a long, smooth finish. A wonderfully-produced wine at an exceptional price. Costco annually stocks this particular wine for around $15. At this bargain price, enjoy with regularity.
Native to France, the Malbec varietal has traditionally played a supporting role in the prestigious Bordeaux blends. In the high elevation vineyards of the Andes Mountain Range, however, Malbec has found its vinous second home. Here, Malbec is king. Its success raises the question of what sets this region apart as a preeminent location for Malbec and other varietals?
Planted in some of the highest elevation vineyards in the world, one may ponder the possibility of venturing too close to the sun. Icarus would be inclined to answer in the affirmative, but grapes at these high altitudes have adapted to the unique climate and increased ultraviolet exposure by developing thicker skins and deeper pigmentation. This translates to a greater concentration of pigments, tannins and phenolic compounds. In other words, elevation helps to produce tasty grapes. Discerning viticulturists facilitate the process with canopy management practices that can provide optimal protection from ultraviolet radiation and strong winds.
Some aspects of the weather in these high altitudes can be unpredictable, but one can consistently rely upon a cool, dry wind, plenty of sunshine and minimal risk of disease. This combination contributes to a long growing season and significant crop yields. Grapes have plenty of sunshine and time to ripen a their leisure.
The warm, sunny days quickly give way to cool, brisk evenings. This diurnal temperature variation is a key to this region’s productivity. Temperatures drop sufficiently at night to permit grapes to ripen slowly, preserve acidity, and develop deep, rich flavors.
The high elevations of Mendoza afford unique conditions, climate and terroir. Winemakers are harnessing these attributes to create balanced, complex and delicious wines at bargain prices. Bodegas Norton is a consistent and splendid example, but there is value in every corner waiting to be uncovered...