Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Hot hot Latino Vino!

Last weekend a few friends converged at our place for an evening of wine tasting, food pairings, random conversations, laughter and dirty dancing (actually that was just my imagination after the 5th glass of wine). The theme that we picked was South American Wines, and logically most people picked Argentinian and Chilean wines. Everybody thought that we were in for an evening of ho-hum wines. At the end of the part every single person agreed that they were astonished at the quality of the "Latino Vinos."

The wines on our list in the order they were served in:

Filler wine: Altos, Los Hormigas 2005 Malbec

First pour: Kaiken Ultra 2003 Malbec
Second pour: Don Melchor (Concha Y Toro), 2002 Cabernet
Third pour: Grial 2002 Carmenere
Fourth pour: Norton 2003 Privada

Filler wine: Root:1 2004 Cabernet

Altos, Los Hormigas 2005 Malbec

This a Latino bombshell from Argentina. Hard to believe that a $12 bottle of wine would be this sophisticated and complex. There is lots of dark fruit in this wine. The color is deep red, lots of fruit on the nose, and texture is smooth. This vineyard has produced some exceptional wines in the past - most notably their 2002 Reserve which currently sells for $75 in the open market. Altos gets 50% of its grape from its own vineyards, and the it sources from nearby vineyards. It uses a combination of steel and small French oak barrels, bottled in 9 months, and then stored in the bottle for 3 months. The local "Whole Paycheck" (oops, did I say that loud - I meant Whole Foods) carries it in limited supply. Run over, this is definitely a keeper. If this wine is so good this young, I wonder how good it might be in 3-4 years.

Kaiken Ultra 2003 Malbec

Kaiken (meaning wild geese) migrate between Chile and Argentina on a regular basis. The Montes folks in Chile picked up this habit and crossed over to Argentina focusing on Malbecs. This effort is a combination of 92% Malbec and 8% Cabernet. This vintage is very earthy and I could swear that I smelled tobacco and a few spices. Or was it in the food pairing?? This is a big, bold wine which probably needs a year or two in the cellar to become superb. At this price ($22), I would drink it now and put away a few bottles for years to come.