(2023) A nice rendition of mid-priced Malbec, sourced from a high-altitude vineyard in the MaipÃº sub-region of Mendoza. Here, fruit from 16-year-old vines is cold macerated before fermentation, and this wine does not see oak. It's a particularly smooth and juicy black-fruited wine, blackcurrant and blueberry and a pleasing little ashy or herbal lift. In the mouth plenty of bright fruit, creamy tannin and a juicy acidity into the finish.
(2023) A Malbec from Mendoza, made by the family-owned Familia Blanco and aged six months in French oak barrel. The nose has a solidity and meatiness, but does offer a glimpse of Malbec's more floral side. In the mouth lots of sweet, rich and ripe black fruit, plummy verging on raisined. The barrel kicks in with a little toast and chocolate into a moderate finish, where there's a touch of heat from the 14.2% alcohol, but overall it has good balance.
(2022) This Malbec comes from an organic vineyard 1,100m above sea level, with limestone in the soils. 60% was aged in 5,000-litre foudres for 10 months. Vibrant and deep in colour, the nose has the slight lift of Parma violet so often shown by Malbec, some charry notes, and there's a herbal edge to otherwise solid black fruit. In the mouth it is big and rich, but there's a gastronomic chewiness too, rounded by the oak and chocolaty tannins, cherry acidity filling in on the finish. Watch the video for more information.
(2021) 100% Malbec from the Agrelo region of Mendoza, this was matured in French and American oak for 4 months. Bright, dark crimson-purple colour, with a nicely lifted nose, some florals and ripe cherry, a little wisp of smokiness. In the mouth there's a coolness about this, a lithe feeling through the medium body and crunch of the acidity married to smooth and creamy fruit. A bite of liquorice or endive bittersweetness along with pert acidity and fine, linear tannins gives this a bit of bounce and energy on the finish too.
(2021) From 700 metres above sea level in Mendoza, unusually for a red wine this does not go through the softening process of malolactic fermentation and neither is it oaked, so clearly the winemaker was seeking a fresh and crisp style of young red wine. The florals remind me of Beaujolais, lots of cherry and spice beneath. In the mouth it is a real charmer, with loads of sweet red fruit, but a chocolaty and spicy background too, the acid fresh but not aggressive, and the whole picture fruit-forward and easy-drinking, though a bit of tannin just roughens up the finish nicely.
(2020) Argentina does Cabernet Franc very well as a rule of thumb, this from two vineyards at 950m and 1,120m elevation, fermented with wild yeasts and spending 12 months in oak barrels. Plush, deep and filled with polished black fruit, there's a tug of earthy spices too, then the wine surges across the palate with sweet-edged blueberry, damson and black cherry, smooth and silky with its oak-polished tannins, and the acidity nicely judged. A serious bottle of wine at its Â£10 offer price in Tesco unil 2nd january 2021, even better if you buy before the 16th December in England with the 25% off six bottles deal. Could take on roasted fowl, game or beef. Maybe decant this one for an hour before serving just to open it up some more.
(2018) Selected grapes from the Uco Valley in Mendoza are hand-picked from high altitude vineyards for this bottling, which is aged in French oak for 18 months. Though aromatically not a million miles from the standard Malbec in the range, there is an extra ounce or two of concetration evident, a touch of spice and chocolate from the oak and with swirling a lovely violet lift to the aroma.Â In the mouth the wine is a much more seductive proposition, the creamy sweetness of the ripe black fruit melting into the vanilla and spice of the oak, more refined tannins for sure, and a nicely balanced finish where some pert black cherry acidity pushes through.
(2016) I visited Chakana at the start of this year and was impressed by their organically grown wines. This is Bonarda, quite common in Argentina, from vineyards at 960 metres altitude, and made here with some oak ageing. The nose has bacon fat and smokiness, mellow mulberry and dark plummy fruit, quite gamy and deep but there is a Sandalwood note of lifted fragrance. In the mouth it is full and rich, a nice sweet/sour balance from the fruit and grippy acidity and tannins, the oak adding a little tobacco and cedar layer to the finish.
(2016) Ten months in 2nd and 3rd year French oak. Fruit from Uco. Nice creaminess and spicy black fruit plushness, but there is a little hint of floral character too. Suave, polished and creamy on the palate, with a coffeeish depth, and very nicely creamy tannins and acidity.