Sunday, February 10, 2008

Argentina Cabernet Sauvignon

Here we go!! Im ready to do my first review. What you'll see with this review is something you will likely see with several reviews forthcoming, its a wine from Argentina. Why am I drinking so much Argentine wine right now? Simple. It goes with my overall theme, great wines for great value. I dabbled in some Malbec right off the bat because I liked the sounds of the tasting notes I was reading and Gary V did a great show on Malbec that really piqued my interest. Although this particular wine isnt a Malbec, I've tasted several Malbecs recently and you're likely to see a couple reviewed on here, soon.

On to the review.

So, I've been reading a ton about Argentina and one of the things I've seen alot is how their Cabernet Sauvignon is up and coming and showing a lot of value for those who like California Cab but cant afford it (i.e. me). So I decided to try the 2005 BenMarco Cabernet Sauvignon from Dominio Del Plata winery in Mendoza. The reason why I chose this wine is simply because I enjoyed the 2005 BenMarco Malbec (10% Bonarda) and I've enjoyed every wine I've tasted from Susana Balbo so I figured, if nothing else, I was guaranteed an "okay" wine. If you're into Susana Balbo wines like I am, just about everything from Dominio Del Plata is imported by Vine Connections out of California, Im sure you could contact them and see which stores in your area are carrying these wonderful wines.

You'll notice the label pictured is from the 2003 vintage, its the only one I could find and Im not tech-savvy enough to get a picture of the bottle onto this blog (i'm working on it).
This particular Cab is 90% Cab and 10% Malbec. It is aged 10 months in 50% French Oak and 50% American Oak and has 14% alcohol. For what its worth, it was rated 88 points by Wine Spectator and 90 points by Jay Miller from Wine Advocate. So, at $20, assuming it lives up to its ratings, it can be considered an excellent value.

Everytime I drink a wine at home I usually go about tasting in this fashion:
  1. Pop and pour a small amount to taste. This way I get the immediate out of the bottle nose and flavor so I can compare it to how it tastes after decanting.
  2. I will let it decant for 2-3 hours, usually tasting along the way every 45 minutes or so to see how the wine evolves.
  3. If I dont finish the bottle that night, I will usually let some of it continue to decant over night and if there is any left, let some sit in the bottle overnight as well.

I find that doing this usually lets me see how the wine evolves and how long it takes to break down so if I like it, I can gauge how long I could cellar it for.

My immediate reaction to this wine on the p&p was "tight." The nose wasn't really giving me anything. A little bit of dark fruit and cassis with some spice but not enough that this inexperienced "sniffer" could identify. Similarly on the taste. There was a little heat but it wasnt harsh, it drank very smoothly but didnt give much flavor out of the bottle.

After a few hours of decanting it began (emphasis on began) to open up. The heat was still there a little bit but it wasnt out of balance. The tannins were still tight but the wine was very smooth and drinkable. The flavors I got from it were black currant, blackberry and spice. It wasnt just a black pepper spice, the flavor I was getting was like a mix of cinnamon, paprika and pepper. It was almost like what you taste when you buy one of those spice rubs for pork ribs, if that makes any sense. It wasnt straight black pepper or Lawry's but more like a mix of spices that reminded me of one of those tin cans of Williams and Sonoma rib rubs. The nose and taste were still tight though and I didnt feel like this wine was giving me everything it had. I liked it and thats probably why I was frustrated that it wouldnt open up for me.

Here is the thing that I found most important, it was good. I enjoyed it. I wanted more from this wine that I felt it could deliver, just not now. I had a little left over and I let it decant over night and the wine opened more from the small taste I had this morning. I felt this wine had everything that the $60 California Cabs (that I have tasted at our local wine shop tastings) have, only for 1/3rd the price. Was I in love with this wine? No. To me, it wasnt as good as the BenMarco 2005 Malbec but maybe I just like Malbec better than Cab. I am certainly going to buy a couple more bottles of this and lay them down until my Labor Day barbeque. I think it will go great with barbeque ribs, chicken, etc. but I think it needs more time before it is willing to open up. Wine Advocate said this wine could be cellared for up to 6 years. I'll give it 6 months before I try it again and maybe I'll keep the other ones I buy for a few years (depending on how good it tastes in 6 months!!).

Overall, good wine. At $20 it is pushing the envelope on price to value but I'll grab a few more bottles and see how it develops. It is still a LOT cheaper than California Cab, so if you are a Cab lover (especially if you like the Bordeaux-esqe blend that includes Malbec) this is definitely worth a try.


Im going to start including a links post every few days with links to various blogs/articles I've read that I've found of interest. Also, I'm going to continue my research on Argentina because I think their wines hold a lot of value and will continue (b/c their currency isnt as crazy against the dollar as others) so expect to see more reviews of Argentine wines. Specifically, I've got two more wines from Susana Balbo I'll be drinking this week, as well as a wine that my wife and I love for a go to "everyday wine."

1 comment:

Julie said...

Great post! I will have to search out the producer.

Search my blog for my tasting notes on wines from Argentina. Have you ever tried a Torront├ęs?

Thanks also for the link. I also “linked you up”. Keep spreading the thunder.