Malbec from Argentina garners good reviews

March 29, 2020

I hope all are still safe and well. The last paragraphs today will include COVID-19 information. 

Let’s start with some gallows humor for us winos hanging out at home. DUI alert. Beware the intersection of Kitchen and Hallway.

I had to write of Badia a Coltibuono Vin Santo 2010. This will take some searching but there is some around, 93 McD under $70 for a 375ml. It is delicious and just in its 2018-34 window. RP wrote 95 points after an October 2018 sampling and the price spiked from $36 to $83. I think $70 is low ebb. This lovely, golden-highlighted, amber-colored wine opens to a panoply of apricot, peach, roast nuts and dark chocolate aromas that are driven from the glass by 16 percent ABV. The slightly unctuous palate is sweet at first blush but nicely balanced by sufficient acidity plus more roast nut, dried apricot and honey flavors. Seven years in small cooperage supply caramel and dried fruit notes through a long, lip-smacking finish. I highly recommend you share 3-oz. servings with tiramisu or flan or an Ibach’s dark chocolate truffle. If your local store pal can’t help, I’ve seen some on eBay. The 2007 and ‘08 are also quite good. 

It seems Malbec from Argentina is the new go-to red. Following are some of those being touted by many writers. It is noteworthy how many are from Catena Zapata. I will list them first. Catena Malbec Mendoza, 88 points McD at $18; Alta Malbec Mendoza 2013 or ‘15, 92McD, $44 is best value of these; Zapata Adrianna Vineyard Piedra Ribera Malbec Gualallary 2013, ‘14 or ‘15 get 94-95 McD around $140. Back to reality, Terrazas de los Andes Reserva 2013, ‘14 and ‘15 (not from Zapata) all rate 88-89 McD around $22. Those who are Malbecians may wish to score a mixed case for your cellar; it’s possible to find around $205. This label has rated 88 or better since 2009 in my records, with the exception of the 90-point 2014. At these prices, please don’t go for the $12 bottles of Malbec. Last but far from least is Sposato Reserve Malbec Agrelo Lujan de Cuyo, which you can find at Teller Wines in Lewes around $20, 89 McD, good QPR. This is deep violet-colored with red rim. Opens with a floral nose. On the palate, plum with oak-driven vanilla and coffee, and proper tannin/acidity balance to fruit. In general, 2014 was an excellent year for high-altitude Malbec from the Argentine. I continue to be amazed that a varietal grape previously associated with Southwestern France (Bordeaux and Cahors), which was mostly used as a blender to provide dark color, tannin and plum flavors, has in a scant 10 years become the vin du jour.  Malbec found its most favorable terroir in the high-altitude desert climes of Chile and Argentina, and in the hands of native growers and wise folks who migrated from Europe and USA who recognized its potential.

Based on the traffic in town and on the beaches and boardwalks, many are not sheltering in place or keeping their distance. While I still have hope COVID-19 is overblown, I also believe it is frivolous to expose ourselves unnecessarily to large groups. This is especially true considering the larger issues of this season’s flu. Fortunately, Gov. Carney finally awakened after observing our crowded beaches and the boards last week. Most recent CDC estimates as of 3/20 on the 2019-20 flu season, claim there have been at least 38 million flu illnesses, 390,000 hospitalizations and 23,000 deaths. The season started Oct. 1. Since January, CDC claimed on March 20 there were 15,219 cases and 201 deaths from COVID-19 in the U.S. More complete info here:

While I don’t wish to minimize this potential disaster, for those who are uniformed concerning statistics, the current models, containing mostly accurate data, are statistically non sequiturs. My reason: Since only those who have already been vetted by physicians as likely to have the disease are tested, due to lack of enough tests, there will be a significantly higher number of positives than in a true random sample representative of the population at large. The flagrant disregard of large swaths of the population (particularly the “utes”) to take precautions will hasten clarification of some of these issues. Hopefully it won’t be a deadly exposé. More clarity will take about two weeks as possible infections manifest or not, due to more randomized testing.

A final note – Great big props to Highway One and Alex Pires for paying all his booked musicians. Most of these artists will be out of work. They don't qualify for unemployment or other bennies. Thanks a lot for your generosity.

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