Mission: Mendoza – How Well Does Malbec Age? (Guest Post)

Vinted on March 31, 2010 binned in commentary, guest posts

 

This is a guest post from frequent 1WineDude.com contributor Jason Whiteside, who recently attained his WSET Diploma in Wines & Spirits (with Merit).  Jason recently returned from a trip to Argentina, cataloged below, in which he went inside Bodega Catena Zapata to answer the question “How Well Does New World Malbec Age?”  His trip recap. coinincides nicely with an interview I recently gave for WineSur.com, in which they asked me about the state of Argentinian wine in the U.S. (for some reason, they left out my comment that Argentinian Malbec needs to prove its high-end age-worthiness… oh, well…).  As an added bonus, Jason also gives us a peek inside the mind of your physician in the era of health care debate.  Enjoy!

I recently spent a week in Mendoza, Argentina on a singular, secret mission assigned to me by The Dude: find out how well Argentine Malbec will age. The assignment seemed simple enough; I was headed to Mendoza anyhow as guests of Winebow and the Catena family. If anyone knew about the age-worthy qualities of high-end Malbec, it was the folks at Catena. What I didn’t know is how hard I would work to find the answer, and that I would have to rely on years of elite training in a secret language to get the answer.

Laura Catena isn’t just the President of Bodega Catena Zapata. Even with all of the responsibility that alone entails, she has a life outside of wine. She is also Laura Catena, MD, and an Emergency Room Physician at UCSF. When I uncovered this little fact about her, I knew I’d leave Mendoza with an answer to our collective Malbec question. You might not know this about me, but I was trained to speak DOCTOR.

It has been many years since I was a professional doctor-botherer. I don’t speak about it much, but it is indeed a part of my pre-wine life. Before my career in wine sales and education, I was a Pharmaceutical Salesman. Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca; I was trained by the best. Almost nine years of my life were spent charming receptionists, nurses, and anybody else in the way, just so I could get 45 seconds of a doctor’s time, in order to tell him/her some science stuff he/she already knew. The job was a big waste of time, but the sales training was priceless. And learning how to speak DOCTOR sometimes really pays off…

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What Price Bordeaux: Bordeaux’s Loss of Identity By The Numbers

Vinted on March 29, 2010 binned in book reviews, commentary

Master of Wine and scientist Benjamin Lewin’s non-fiction book What Price Bordeaux has a title that, unlike many non-fictional works, is meant to convey a series of meanings or themes that are touched on at some point in the body of the work itself.

In this case, What Price Bordeaux refers, at turns, to

  • The skyrocketing prices of wines from Bordeaux’s top chateau, while its minor AOCs are in such crisis that they are forced to sell their wines for distillation in order to avoid bankruptcy.
  • The maddening opacity of Bordeaux’s wine business, which Lewin investigated intensely in the writing of his book, and where simple data points, such as the average price of a bottle of red Bordeaux in 2007, were hidden from him by the area’s professional organizations.
  • The 1855 Classification of Bordeaux’s top producers, which organized the “best” wines by price in the Medoc (Lewin boldly offers an updated, new classification in What Price Bordeaux, which contains some shockers in terms of who now ranks above whom in current Bordeaux market prices).
  • The loss of Bordeaux wines’ identities in favor of an “International” red wine style currently more popular with consumers and influential wine critics – resulting in skyrocketing price increases and occasional price crashes for high-end Bordeaux wines.

What Price Bordeaux contains enough fodder for a month’s worth of wine blog posts, but that would deny you the pleasures (and shock) of reading it (which I recommend that you do).  Instead, it’s the last point above that I want to talk about, concentrating on Chapter 10 (“The New Bordeaux”), which alone is worth the price of the book.

After reading Chapter 10 in Lewin’s book, I’ve grown increasingly convinced that Bordeaux wines are becoming more and more like those of the Napa Valley not just because they are chasing the elevated scores that wine critics give to that style of red wine, but also because they may have no other choice…

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Weekly Twitter Wine Mini-Reviews Round-up for 2010-03-27

Vinted on March 27, 2010 binned in wine mini-reviews
  • 09 Ducca del Frassino Garganega Pinot Grigio (Venezie): Crisp & refreshing if you dig aromas of artificially-flavored banana candy. $20 3L C #
  • 07 Dancing Bull Zinfandel (CA): Easy to like, & easier to drink, though the candied red fruit on the nose might wear out the welcome. $9 C+ #
  • 06 Brutocao Quadriga (Mendocino): 4 Italian grape blend but it's the 18% Barbera that *really* keeps things interesting (& red-plummy) $24 B #
  • NV Henry's Drive Vignerons "The Postmistress" Blanc de Blanc (Padthaway): Squeaky clean pears, she snuck in flowers & brioche, too. $19 B- #
  • 06 Story Winery Picnic Hill Zinfandel (Shenandoah Valley, CA): Ugly label, but solid old vine sipper. Tangy, w/ sweet black licorice. $25 B #
  • 07 Gramercy Cellars 'Lagniappe' Syrah (Columbia Valley): A magic carpet ride to berry-land; only the carpet is made of smoked meat. B+ $38 #
  • 07 Doyenne Syrah (Yakima Valley): Someone just blitzkrieged your senses Old World style w/ sandalwood & black fruit. And you liked it A- $49 #
  • 07 K Syrah "Phil Lane" (Walla Walla): They got the whole butcher shop, incense store, & blueberry bush in there, topped up w/ booze. A- $70 #
  • 06 Columbia Winery Syrah (Columbia Valley): Too funky for its own dang self. A shame, because the spice & supple texture are nice. C+ $16 #
  • 08 Hayman & Hill Chardonnay Reserve Selection (Russian River Valley): Solid as a barely-ripe peach; tastes just as good as one, too. $15 B- #
  • 08 Hayman & Hill Pinot Noir Reserve Selection (Santa Lucia Highlands): Oak, lees contact, & a big dose of Malbec. None of it helped. $18 C #
  • 07 Hayman & Hill Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Selection (Napa Valley): Simple, but you won't be mistaking it for succulent anytime soon $15 C+ #

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