June 3, 2008

Cameron Hughes Lot 51 Malbec 2004

btl_lot_51.pngVARIETAL: Malbec
REGION: Lujan de Cuyo, Mendoza Argentina
PRICE: $11

Now this is an interesting concept -- buy surplus wine from purportedly high-end producers in all the major wine regions and sell it under one label, exclusively to Costco. My curiosity was certainly piqued when I was read the sell sheet for the Cameron Hughes Malbec, but I had my doubts as I am a little uncomfortable trying mysteriously sourced--as well as private label--wines. Part of my personal enjoyment of a wine is learning about the producer.

But I digress. You want to know what this juice is all about and I will tell you: it is not bad. I know, a little underwhelming, but frankly so is the wine. I LOVE malbec and am quite familiar with the varietal in all of its incarnations, but the style of this one just isn't quite what I was hoping for. It is quite aromatic and I did enjoy the ripe dark berry scents. However I found it a little too fruit forward for my taste. I like a malbec that shows great fruit as well as firm tannins and interesting spice. The Lot 51, to me was much more stylistically akin to an Aussie Shiraz. Again, not bad but not what I was expecting.

I will be investigating the other Cameron Hughes offerings at Costco so stay tuned.

In the meantime, check out their story for yourselves. Cameron Hughes Lot 51 Malbec

Noël Wallace at Permalink social bookmarking

May 23, 2008

Fire up the grill - Wines for Steak

Steak is probably one of the easiest things to grill. . . a little pepper, generous salt, other spices or marinade if you desire, and a good sear makes for an easy and infinitely enjoyable meal. Red meat is also pretty simple to pair with wine so you have a lot more room to play around. Pretty much any big bold red will complement a hearty steak.

cousinomaculcab.jpgA pretty traditional pairing would be a big cab. A cabernet sauvignon, or a cab blend, will have the structure and fortitude to cut through the protein and fat. I like the Cousino Macul because it is big and dusty with the darker berry fruit flavors as well as dried fruit, sweet tobacco and saddle leather aromas. Totally warm and inviting.
Cousino Macul Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 $11
Opaque purple in colour, this Estate Cabernet offers aromatics of ripe blackberries, plum, herbs and cacao. Medium in body and light tannin, it captures the essence of Maipo Valley fruit. In the mouth, the flavors continue the blackberry-blueberry themes with hints of cassis and black olives. Its lingering finish echoes the black fruits and ends on a tangy cherry brightness. With time in the glass, this Cabernet unfolds beautifully, suggesting it can be enjoyed in its youth or cellared for 2 to 5 years. (from

gasconmalbec.jpgMy personal favorite with red meat (at least my cheap and fun fave) is malbec. One of the five Bordeaux blending grapes, Malbec is widely planted varietal in Argentina and is served with just about every type of meat you can imagine. The style is a little more loose and round than a cabernet, but still maintains a good bit of structure and spice to balance it out.
Gascon Malbec 2006 $12
This wine is made by blending Malbec from the three best growing areas in Mendoza. In these areas, the grapes develop sweet tannins, intense fruit and good acidity/sugar balance, combining the characteristics of each area. Red purple color. Intense black fruits and red plum aromas. Smooth and concentrated tannins in the mouth. (from

beyerskloof05label.jpgIf you're feeling a little adventurous, check out a pinotage. It is the signature grape of South Africa and a cross between cinsault (a Rhone blending grape) and pinot noir. What you get is a totally original flavor that has nice cherry and red berry fruit flavors and aromas from the pinot, but is laced with twinges of cut herbs, smoke and roasted meat. Often when you first open the bottle is smells oddly antiseptic and a little like a band-aid, but if you give a few minutes to open up, you're in for an interesting wine experience. A natural match for meat.
Beyerskloof Pinotage 2005 $12
A medium to full bodied pinotage with a deep red colour. A complex Pinotage with plum and red berry flavours well integrated with the oak aromas. A balanced wine that could be enjoyed now or age in the bottle for a few years longer. In summer to go with seafood or light meat dishes. It also goes well with any red meat, pasta and spicy food. (from Beyerskloof)

Noël Wallace at Permalink social bookmarking

February 19, 2008

Inca Cabernet Malbec 2005

Thumbnail image for inca.jpgI am a sucker for Argentine wines, malbec in particular. In fact, I had such a fantastic sojourn through the Mendoza Valley just after the harvest that I often choose malbec in hopes that it will trigger those now fading memories of the dusty terrain and sweeping views of the Andes. This wine just did not do it for me.
The Inca Cabernet (80%) Malbec (20%) blend is from quite a different region altogether: the Calchaqui Valley, nestled high in the mountains in the Salta Region of northern Argentina. But the climate isn't the problem. I think they just spent more time manipulating this wine rather than giving it the structure to come into its own. Had it been bagged or its label disguised, I might have described it as a fruit forward, smooth, round red with ripe berry flavors and a vegetal twist--green pepper and dill--quite reminiscent of a California Cabernet Franc. Were it not for the far-too-creamy mouth-feel I might have mistaken it for a merlot. It just wasn't what it purported to be. A perfectly decent wine for $10, but I probably won't buy it again.

Noël Wallace at Permalink social bookmarking

December 3, 2007

Don Rodolfo Malbec-2005

Year: 2005
We Paid: $13
ABV: 13.5%

DONRODOLFO.jpegIntense red color with violet undertones. Very fruity on the nose, with hints of plums, spices and subtle notes of vanilla and toast from brief aging in French and American oak barrels. Good volume in the mouth, structured and with a well balanced finish. Wine and Spirits June, 2007 had this to say:

Cafayate's heights deliver intense sun and heat, which typically translates into rich, powerful reds. This one, however, seems to channel more of the area's cool nights in its subtle, spicy flavor. It's elegant and light, with strawberry and cherry flavors supported by firm tannins. It's impressively refined - especially at this price.

Don Rodolfo 2005 Malbec - Red Wine

Conor Hanover at Permalink social bookmarking
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