Brett happens

All wine, most of the time

MWG May 24th tasting: report (3/4)

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BenMarco 2009, Mendoza, Dominio del Plata ($18.75, 11602701)
Made by Susana Balbo as “a tribute to the ‘traditional’ Argentinian wine style.” 90% Caberbet Sauvignon, 5% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc. Destemmed before pressing. Temperature-controlled fermentation with pumping over, racking and returning and 20 days’ extended maceration. Matured 11 months, 50%  in new French oak barrels and 50% in second-use American oak barrels. 14.5% ABV.
Cherry Blossom (the candy, not the flower) but fresh with mint and cassis. The one-dimensional, oversweet fruit is almost obliterated by char. Look for ’em and you’ll find some sweet oak and ink. Fairly high acid and quite tannic. Predictable finish. Would probably benefit from a grilled steak, not that I intend to find out. (Buy again? No.)

Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, Maipe Reserve, Luján de Cuyo, Bodega Chakana ($18.85, 11602883)
100% Cabernet Sauvignon from vines averaging 38 years old. Temperature-controlled fermentation. Aged 12 months in French oak barrels. 14% ABV.
Cassis, smoked sausage and menthol eventually gaining some green bell pepper. Fruity, minerally, oaky but flat: flat flavours, flat acid, flat tannins. Long finish – too long. (Buy again? No.)

LFE 900 2008, Valle de Colchagua, Luis Felipe Edwards ($30.75, 11617874)
36% Petite Sirah, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Syrah, 7% Carmenère and 3% Malbec from a single vineyard located at 900 metres altitude. Temperature-controlled fermentation followed by ten days’ maceration. Aged 18 months in new French oak barrels. 14.5% ABV.
Not particularly appealing nose: alcohol, leather, slate, ink, cassis and, eventually, Keds. Ripe, rich and mouth-filling but not a bomb. Sweet but not candied fruit, round verging on gummy tannins, peek-a-boo acidity, oak-spicy finish. (Buy again? If I had to choose one of the four, it’d be this, but no.)

Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, Elegance, Valle del Maipo, Haras de Pirque ($36.00, 11602891)
85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Syrah and 3% Cabernet Franc. The grapes were lightly crushed and cold-macerated for seven days before being fermented using indigenous yeasts with pumping over and racking and returning. Aged 16 months in French oak barrels. 14.8% ABV.
Off-putting nose with everything except fruit dialed to maximum: “paving crew” quipped one taster, “llama tail” another. Dense and exaggerated but, in its perverse way, balanced, the overripe fruit holding its own against the monster tannins and trowel-laid oak. Unrelenting finish. Tamed somewhat as it breathed and quite possibly in need of a few years in the cellar. Still, it’s hard to imagine this ever providing refreshment. And if there’s a more incongruously named wine in the world, I’ve not encountered it. (Buy again? Never.)

The high hopes I had for this flight were dashed. Obviously the wines are made in a style that I – and nearly all the tasters in attendance – don’t appreciate. But does that mean they’re bad wines? In their defence, one of the tasters, a confessed New World fan who also views white wines with suspicion, was in seventh heaven, drained all his glasses and was delighted that he got to take home the tail ends. Also, let it be noted that the wine press is far more positive about the bottles; Haras flaunts 90-point ratings from Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast and various guides. (Let it also be noted that most of the wine press goes on junkets paid for by the producers’ associations in these countries.) And, dog knows, the wines sell. Yet, each time I smelled or tasted the Haras, I shuddered; most of the tasters around the table dumped their glasses after a sip or two; and one taster claimed the flight so obliterated his palate that he was unable to taste anything afterwards. Even the wines’ defenders would, I think, have to admit to their lack of refreshment. And for those of us who hold that a wine’s first duty is to be food-friendly and refreshing, that indeed makes them bad.

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Written by carswell

May 30, 2012 at 10:58

One Response

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  1. […] the prospect of tasting through a baker’s dozen of big, heady wines. Would palates be obliterated as had happened only a week earlier? We needn’t have worried. While big, the wines weren’t bruising and their purity and balance […]


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