Wednesday, July 9, 2014

A Malbec Musing - Agua de Piedra Malbec Gran Seleccion 2013

At both Nomad Pizzas in Philly, the Malbec we pour by the glass for $8 far outsells all the other pours except for the Montepulciano. People love Malbec for the same reason they love other new world everyday quaffers. It's usually got lots of soft, sweet fruit in the middle and a very smooth finish, unfettered by any noticeable tannic structure. Of course, for the most part there's not much complexity, but most folks don't care about that when they're washing down Nomad's delicious spicy sopressata pizza drizzled with honey.

Well, I decided to put down the Cotes du Rhone and the Montepulcianos, get off my old world soap box, and dive into another Malbec I'd been eyeballing at my local store. The Aqua de Piedra Malbec Gran Seleccion presents itself with an attractive package that features a really heavy bottle-the kind that might normally hold a high end cab. It's a little odd for a $10.99 wine but hey, bottle weight notwithstanding it's what is inside that counts right? Interestingly, a not so scientific study done by a wine shop in England a couple of years ago and reported by the Academic Wino concluded that, among other things, consumers associated bottle weight with quality of wine. I can certainly see that being the case. The Aqua de Piedra bottle comes in at a touch over three pounds while most wine bottles weigh around two pounds.

The Aqua de Piedra is an import of Monsieur Touton, a very large importer/distributor here on the east coast. It's produced exclusively for them by Mendoza Vineyards of Mendoza, Argentina. The winemaker Richard Bonvin was kind enough to get back to me via twitter on that subject.  Mendoza does not own any vineyards but sources grapes from various different growers. The bottle claims that the grapes for this tasty red comes from very old vines grown at very high altitudes. It also sees about 6 months in oak prior to bottling. For lovers of new world fruit this wine is a winner, and for old world fans, there is some uncommon complexity here. The dark purple color gives way to plummy aromas supported with some appealing spice, earth and mineral notes. It's fairly full in the mouth, with round, supple dark berry and plum flavors, and a very soft pleasing finish. A retailer friend told me that as soon as a container of this comes in, it sells out very quickly. For $10.99, this nice little Malbec is an excellent value. Enjoy!