Most fans of Malbec are aware of the Mendoza region of Argentina. From the standpoint of name recognition alone it tops many of the other Argentinian grape growing regions. But what makes the Mendoza region special?
The Mendoza region, situated at the base of the Argentinian Andes, marks the western edge of the prime grape growing areas in Argentina. Because it is at the base of the towering Andes, and blessed with a variety of valleys, the region has a number of micro-climes and elevations which have been optimized for the grape plantings. These micro-climes allow vineyards to produce a variety of grapes, with Malbec being the prime planting.
The high altitude also allows for a more intense sun, which produces grapes with thicker skins (and Mendoza grapes are noted for this). The thicker skins result in a berry with more intense color and significant flavor.
The oldest continuously operating vineyard in the area is Don Miguel Gascon. Gascon, opened in 1884 and the site is still the location of today’s wine-making process. Over the years, the winery has seen improvements and additions to the original site, but the heritage from the past lingers and helps dictate the wine-making today. Today Gascon is recognized as the first Argentinian winery to bottle a varietal Malbec, and the quest to continue the tradition of a quality Malbec remains.
Gascon recently released two different Malbecs in the US market. From the 2014 harvest, Gascon has the 2014 Don Miguel Gascon Malbec. On opening, the wine has blackberry and plum on the nose. On the palate there is a hint of chocolate mingling with fresh fruit and spice. The final result is a medium-bodied Malbec which is pleasant to drink by itself or paired with any grilling items.
To prepare for bottling, the grapes were hand harvested and then cold soaked for several days. Fermentation was in upright tanks for one week and the temperature was maintained at 85° F. To enhance the flavor, the skins remained in contact with the juices for three weeks. Subsequent to primary fermentation, the grapes had a malolactic fermentation to increase the smoothness. Final preparation of the wine saw the juices stored in oak for seven months.
The final product is a nice wine for everyday family consumption.
The second wine from Gascon is the 2012 Reserva Malbec. This wine, from the same region as the 2014 Malbec, is special. The flavors are intense. Temperatures during the growing season had a differential of approximately 50° F (Day to Night highs and lows). This gave the wine a notable balance between its acidity and its noticeable tannins as it is consumed.
On the nose blackberry and chocolate dominate. On the palate dark fruit prevails and a secondary flavor of plum and brown currant are noted. Because of the aforementioned tannins, the finish is smooth and somewhat velvety.
The wine-making process was similar to the 2014 Malbec, but with lengthened cold soaking. Skin and juice contact was for three weeks and fermentation (6 days) was at 85°. Sixty five percent of the wine was aged in French and American oak barriques for 15 months.
This Malbec has 6% Petit Verdot added to smooth out its final flavors and taste. The alcohol content was 14.8% and the pH is 3.72.
These are very good wines with the 2012 Reserva being comparable to any in the under $35.00 SRP. (SRP for the Reserva is $25.00.)
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Enjoy and have a winederful day!