Wine can make the world feel smaller. Merlot grapes might have originated in France, but when vineyards in places as disparate as Napa Valley in California and the Andes Mountains in Argentina can successfully import and implant the grapes, and produce quality imprints from those vines, everything feels a bit more connected. We’re reminded that while France’s great winemaking regions are certainly singular (and a great place to visit, I’m sure), the climate and the day-to-day life elsewhere is pretty similar. We have two different regions growing the same grapes in the same basic climate. Life can’t be that different, right?
Of course, looking at wine in a region like the Andes belies that slightly. In a mountain area, where the altitude changes drastically over short distances, we have microclimates piled on top of each other. A vineyard with the exact same climate as a rainy, temperate French region can be a couple miles from a vineyard downhill with the climate of a hot Spanish winemaking region. Take a look at this climate/altitude microclimate map from Terrazas de los Andes, the winemaker from this week’s wine.
Today’s wine is a malbec grown in those microclimates, made by a vineyard with land at all altitudes on the faces of the Andes range. Thus we can be confident that the wine was grown under ideal conditions.
How does it look? The wine’s almost opaque, with a deep crimson color that looks close to fire engine red when swirled thinly. The wine seems light-bodied but leaves decent legs, so we’ll assume it’s sweet.
How does it smell? The nose is bright and fruity — cherry, and blackberry notes, mainly, with some floral and spicy notes.
But how does it taste? Our malbec has a sweet fruit-forward flavor at first, with rich berry and cherry flavors dominating. Those fruits are balanced by an alkaline finish that cleans the palate so that the wine is not cloying. A very good wine for the $13 or so you’ll have to spend on it.