As my last two blogs have been about the winery Las Perdices’ wonderful Reserva wines, I think the most polite thing would be for me to explain just exactly who they are, where they are coming from and what they do. Las Perdices winery is based in Agrelo, Lujan de Cuyo in Mendoza, Argentina at 1,030m (3.380ft) above sea level, family owned by Juan Munoz Lopez and his wife Rosario with their children Nicholas, Carlos and Estela. Juan, originally from Andalucía in Spain, decided to immigrate to Argentina in 1952 to look for new projects and discover the diverse terroir of Mendoza. The traditional Mendocino style winery has the capacity for 900.000 liter production in stainless steel and houses both new French and American oak for their higher level wines. The grapes themselves are sourced from their vineyards in Agrelo and Barrancas.
Agrelo in Lujan de Cuyo, is also based at 1,030m above sea level and has a warm, dry climate with cool nights, bringing optimum complexities of sugars and acidity to the grape, while the alluvial, gravel supported loamy lime soils make this the perfect environment for growing a selection of varietals including Malbec, Merlot and Bonarda. Barrancas in Maipu, Mendoza has quite a similar climate (not as cool at night) and soil composition to Agrelo but the lower altitude of 720m above sea level makes it ideal for producing big, colorful red varietals like Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah.
If you were wondering, varietal is the word we use to describe a wine made primarily from a single grape variety, which will typically be displayed that name on the bottles label. While terroir and oak maturation will affect the subtleties and complexities of flavor of the resulting wine (like we saw with the Reserva wines of Las Perdices), there will always be similar characteristics from each particular varietal. For example, Malbec tends to produce inky purple wines, that exhibit red fruit flavors with a supple, soft medium to full body, while Cabernet Sauvignon shows dark black fruits, full structured body and some rather gripping tannins and so forth. We have been having a bit of a giggle here in the Anuva Wines office at this video of a winemaker from Paso Robles in California, whose passion about his varietals culminates in some rather colorful and creative descriptions. In comparison, a ‘varietal wine’ to a ‘reserve wine’ will have much less time in oak or even no time in oak, so you will be able to get to the core or the ‘truth’ of the grapes characteristics, but it will not have the stability or complexity to age as well as a reserve wine.
In the words of Mr MC Hammer; Hammer time: Las Perdices’ Malbec Varietal 2011 vs. Malbec Reserva 2010 (my previous blog). Sourced from the same place as the Reserva, Agrelo in Lujan de Cuyo, Mendoza with 6 months in American and French Oak (versus 12 months with the Reserva) and producing 72,000 bottles per year (more than seven times the production of the Reserva). The shade of Las Perdices’ varietal Malbec was incredibly similar to that of the Reserva, wonderfully violet but the intensity of it was certainly on the lighter side in comparison. The ambrosial aroma was just as intense as the Reservas’ and certainly got me salivating but again, it was not as complex, not a bad thing, it was just far more easy-going or approachable than the previous; lots of fresh red fruits, plum, wild red berries, juicy strawberries, vanilla and cream, it kind of smelt like a chupa chups strawberries and cream lollipop….I was obsessed with them when I was travelling around the world so I am very familiar with the smell. The taste was very similar to the aroma with a wide mid-palate but the feel was surprisingly full, not quite meeting that of the reserve but certainly supple, smooth with a meaty, sweet spicy finish. My conclusion; both wines are superb, great for different situations and tastes. If you are with friends looking for an easy-drinking wine to pair with a simple meat and cheese picada, pick the varietal; if you are a wines veteran, like complex wines and you are wanting to impress someone special with an exclusive production Malbec and romantic, flavorsome, but itsy-bitsy food then the Reserva would be a more suitable wine for the occasion. I’ll take them both thanks!
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