Having dinner parties at my flat is super fun. Not because I am a master chef, not because I am the ‘hostess with the mostess’, not because I live in some extra fancy apartment with all the latest technological gadgets. Oh no, in my opinion they are fun because people generally bring wine. More to the point, as I host wine tastings in Buenos Aires, most people bring good quality wine in fear that I will judge them for poor taste. Normally, the offerings make for a selection that is fit for a premium all-red Argentina wine tasting but recently a guy called Tincho shook up tradition and presented me with an Argentinean espumante. My interest sparked as this was one that I had not come across before; Malma Extra Brut by Bodega NQN.
Bodega NQN is an uber-modern winery situated 50km from Neuquen city in Patagonia, a location which means everything for the owner Lucas Nemisio, the winemaker Gustavo Agostini and the vineyard manager Oscar Huczac. Their philosophy is that their wines should encapsulate the character of Patagonia, to see what the young vines are capable of producing. Patagonian vines are some of the youngest new vines in the worlds with most being planted 10 years ago or under, of which the majority are begin exposed to some rather difficult, sometimes extreme climatic challenges, for example, the summer sun is so fierce that they have to protect their most valuable vines with netting so they don’t get sunburnt! However, on the plus side, the strong cool desert winds of Patagonia sweep through the vineyards, blowing out any pest and humidity, lowering the possibility of rot as well as thickening the the grapes’ skins giving vibrant, deep colour to the wines and furthermore allowing for more organic production in the area.
The Malma Extra Brut is made by the traditional Champenoise method, with 75% Pinot and 25% Chardonnay, a classic blend of varietals when used together with the method makes for popular styles of sparkling wine, which are influenced by the sparkling wines of Champagne, France. The single vineyard, non-vintage production is hand harvested from 8,000kg yield giving very low, limited production of wine at 12,000 bottles a year.
It’s deep yellow colour with golden hues gave way to the constant fine string of bubbles, nothing unusual here….but in the nose, I was surprised. I could pick out a lot of characteristics that was expected: the red berries and some cranberries from the Pinot Noir, encircled by wasps of lemony citrus and tropical pineapple from the Chardonnay finished with a note of toast and walnuts from the use of yeast during the Champenoise method, but there was something else, like earthiness, minerals, medicinal or dare I say it…like antibiotics??? It was really quite strange but not unpleasant. I can only assume that it was the inert minerals from the Patagonian soils that were showing there characteristics in the wine. The mouth was not unlike the nose, but the mouth feel was both rich, creamy and full with delicate acidity that dispersed the more ‘funky’ elements of the wine, rather highlighting its fresher fruitier side. Nice!
We drank it as it came but this wine would be fabulous with light, aromatic dishes like sushi, Thai or even some hard, salty cheeses like reggianito. Even though I didn’t buy it myself, I did my research and a bottle of Malma Extra Brut will set you back $85Ars pesos…. thanks Tincho, you can come to my dinner parties anytime you like!
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