by Fred McMillin
for December 8, 1998

 

A High-Tech Malbec


Prologue

Argentina, the world's fifth largest wine producer, is a slumbering giant. It will be years before modernization brings Argentina's wines up to international standards. The best reason to buy them is perhaps as a vanishing point for a vanishing past, a reminder of a blunt, soft wine style once common around the world.

...Thomas Matthews, Wine Spectator & Marc Dorman, Wine Enthusiast


The Rest of the Story

There's nobody better at awakening slumbering giants than the dynamic Jess Jackson. He exploded onto the wine scene 15 years ago with a unique (off-dry) Chardonnay, and has been acquiring top-flight properties and personnel ever since. Now, to its benefit, Argentina is in his sights.

Where to start? Winemaster Jancis Robinson says Bordeaux's Malbec can produce luscious reds capable of extended aging, particularly when grown in the Lujan de Cuyo region of Mendoza. The Mendoza region, in the west-central part of Argentina, has the best soil and climate for viticulture.

So what did Jess do? I'm sipping his Malbec from Lujan de Cuyo in Mendoza. and the 100% Malbec is from two treasures, the Cassone Vineyard of 75-year-old vines and the Calise Vineyard of 120-year-old vines...providing plenty of that well-known geriatric-grape oomph. Details:


Mariposa Malbec

The Wine

1997 Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina
Brand Name—Mariposa
Winemaker—Lynda Hanson, who in our July 31, 1997 WineDay said, "I must be the only non-smoking, vegetarian, cat-loving, female winemaker in all of Argentina. I love it."...I told you Jess hires top-notch types!
Wine Description—Lynda says the wine has "old-vine concentration, full of plum fruit and charged with cardamon and black pepper spice...exemplifies the best of Argentina Malbec."
Rating—My panel gave it a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for reds in the $9 price range.
Contact—Brittany Lacey, (707) 547-4745


Postscript

Argentina not only is a huge producer of wine, but also the largest per capita consumer in North and South America. My latest figures show that for every glass a U.S. citizen drinks, his Argentinian counterpart drinks eight!

 

About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.

 

 

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