Before I start this review, I’d like to talk a little bit about the Malbec varietal. I know many of my readers will already know about this grape, but I’ve had a few people recently mention they had never heard of it before. Malbec is a French grape and it is one of the six noted varietals used in making Bordeaux wine. Many people think it is native to Argentina but it’s a very old French varietal. Most of the Malbec grown in the world does come from Argentina with France being the second largest producer. Malbec was brought to Argentina in the 19th century and has been grown there prolifically ever since. The US, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, and Chile make up the bulk of other production areas, but Canada, Italy, and South Africa also have notably sized plantings. Malbec is famous for its color, dark fruit character and moderate acidity. Tannins in Malbec can differ in strength but usually have a smooth round nature that makes for a plush and silky mouth feel.
The Gascón 2011 Malbec varies in price depending on retailer but averages about $15. This particular Malbec comes in at 13.9% alcohol content. This is Gascón’s introductory level Malbec but don’t worry it doesn’t taste cheap! This Malbec is grown in a high altitude vineyard which will bring forward the fruit character of the varietal.
My bottle was in great shape with no cork issues. The wine did not have much aroma upon opening the bottle. I used an aerator when pouring the wine. I’d also like to note I did not use a tasting glass specific to the varietal and the wine was not chilled to the proper serving temp for a Malbec but 2-4 degrees higher than the desired range (55 to 64 is the proper temp zone). I tried to capture the glorious inky color with my camera but it was too dark to capture properly no matter what light source I used. I wanted to make sure we tasted the wine on its own and then I paired it with a menu of Balsamic glazed steak, green beans, and a few squares of chocolate for dessert.
I always like to start my tasting process with several good sniffs deep in the glass. I also like to really roll the wine around the glass so I get the full impact of the aroma. The nose was very soft without a lot of perfume to it. There was a hint of violet on the nose but that was really the only note I picked up.
The initial taste impression was well blended dark fruits which were redolent of blueberries and blackberries, a touch of spice in the middle, soft round tannins, and a moderately lengthy finish. My husband and I disagreed on the finish flavors and texture. I described it as a “dusting of cocoa powder” and he described it as a “mocha fog rolling in”. Either way, it was a hint of chocolate and coffee.
With our meal the wine morphed a bit. When drank with the steak, the spice really came out and dominated the black fruits. With the green beans the wine showed more of the floral and vegetal qualities that were just hinted at in the nose. Between bites it was very palette cleansing with moderate acidity and enhanced the next bites flavor. The in-between sips were powerfully fruity with the blueberry and blackberry becoming the focus in a more juicy way.
Once it was in the glass about 30 minutes the blackberry became the more dominate fruit with more pronounced allspice notes. The tannins became bolder and the finish was now full on dark chocolate.
When it came to dessert time, which was 45 minutes to 1 hour after opening the wine, the Malbec was still developing. By itself the blackberry and spice were competing for center stage with a super intense mocha finish. Paired with the chocolate the fruit took a backseat to the allspice and the finish was still very intense mocha but with a hint of fresh tobacco.
All in all I have to say this wine is an excellent value for the flavors and drinking experience. With the style being so soft and approachable I’d highly recommend serving this red wine to people who only drink whites or are new to wine drinking. I’d also like to point out this was the Malbec served in my impromptu entertaining article and everyone at my party loved it so much that four bottles were gone in what seem like minutes. Using the standard Wine Spectator point scale, I’d like to rate this between a 90 and a 92 because it’s everything a Malbec should be. In conclusion, it’s a must buy and a wine you can be proud to serve your guests or give as a host/hostess gift.