Sunday, June 17, 2007

Mendoza Day Three

On day three we were picked up by a friend of a friend, Hector, who owns a restaurant in the town of Tupungato. Hector drove us around to several bodegas and vineyards. The first stop was a visit to the bodega at finca Koch where the winemaker, Valeria, took us into the bodega to barrel and tank sample last year's and this year's wines. The idea was to show us the difference between the wines of the northern Mendoza vineyards of Agrelo and the wines of the more southerly Uco Valley. They were tasted at cellar temperature (10 degrees celsius) so were quite crisp. The 2006 Malbec barrel sample (new oak) from Tupungato (Uco) was bursting with fruit and quite tannic. The 2006 Malbec barrel sample from from Agrelo was not as smooth, all three tasters preferred the Uco malbec. Other wines include the 2006 Cabernet from Tupungato (aged in a 2nd year barrel - was quite dry with hard tannins, tasted of strawberries and was quite good) and a 2007 Merlot from Agrelo that had only been in the barrel for two months (still sweet, but quite smooth). We then had two tank samples of 2007 Malbec from two different vineyards - was basically structured fruit juice. Valeria gave us a parting gift of her 2005 bottling that had not yet been released - a blend of 30% malbec/40% Cab sauvignon/20% merlot/10% Cab franc aged in a mix of 1, 2 and 3 year old oak; we brought it back to Canada and opened it together with about 10 other bottles given to us as gifts on the trip; for our group of tasters this wine was the clear favourite, being drained the fastest.
Then, time for lunch....Hector and his lovely wife treated us to local trout three their restaurant "McManus" - probably the best restaurant in Tupungato.
Served with lunch was the Koch Cabernet Sauvignon, Tupungato, 2003, a medium bodied wine that spent one year in new oak. It had fine, dusty tannins and dull fruit, although it opened up with time leading me to believe we were drinking it too young. In contrast, the Koch, Malbec, Agrelo, 2005 was fruitier and less tannic, more approachable and enjoyable than the cab. A good wine.
Dinner that night at Club Tapiz was fantastic. This "club" is a small hotel (7 rooms) set in a functioning vineyard with one of the top restaurants in the region. We tried the Tapiz, Malbec Reserve, 2004 with dinner - light berry notes on the nose, medium to full bodied palate, refined and elegant for a young malbec. Very smooth, a "good" wine.



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