Wine #12

This one surprised me. 

Will it surprise you?

  • Herbs
  • spice
  • Raspberry
  • Not very strong
  • Maybe blueberries
  • Def berries

Now that I let it sit...

  • Vanilla
  • Tannic
  • Pepper
  • Not very acidic (Med -)
  • Med tannin
  • Mid alcohol
So... I was thinking, based on the fact that the fruit wasn't really extracted or pronounced, and it didn't seem very high in alcohol (two things common in New World Wines) my initial conclusion was:
  • A cooler climate: Old world
  • Since the color was fading at the rim, maybe it had a little age? 2008ish?
  • The vanilla I got makes me think it saw some time in Oak...

I had two general guesses for grape type:

  • Cabernet Franc? (A parent of Cabernet Sauvignon) - maybe from Chinon, the Loire Valley?
  • Syrah? from the Northern Rhone, Valley in France?

Though Cab franc initially came to mind, I eventually strayed from Cabernet Franc (one of the grapes in a BORDEAUX). This grape is typically known for being really herbaceous, and having some "lead pencil" and "tea leaves"... and I wasn't quite getting that. Also I was getting some fruits that weren't really red fruit, and Cab Franc is more in the realm of red-fruits.

So, I ended up guessing SYRAH from the NORTHERN RHONE.

Syrah from the Northern Rhone Valley of France is typically lighter, and has more red notes than Syrah typically does elsewhere in the world. The Syrah of the Northern Rhone is known for being semi-delicate (as far as a powerful grape as Syrah goes)...

I've had one Northern Rhone Syrah (St. Joseph) and it was mostly red fruit, but also some dark fruit notes, a little earthy, but VERY tannic/mouth drying, medium+ acidity, and peppery. SO, not quite the same, but seemed similar enough...

Have you heard of SHIRAZ? Well, guess what? It is the SAME grape! What makes it taste SO different is WHERE it is grown. SHIRAZ, typically from Australia is going to be BIGGER & BOLDER, and more deep, jammy even ~ all thanks to the different wine-making styles and warmer climate down-under.

Remember: Hotter climate = more ripe grapes = more fruit flavor & BOOZE.

So -- Time to lock in your answers....



correct answer: MALBEC


Year: 2007


Wrong grape.

Wrong place.


These are the "official" tasting notes:

Varietal emblematic of Argentina, originally from France. It has got a great body and a garnet red colour with sparkling violet touches. It stands out because of the touch of red fruits that, along with an optimum balance of acidity and tannin, give personality and distinction to this wine.

So - seems my tasting wasn't completely off..

Just the application of my "knowledge"...

SO, to remind myself...


Originally from France, and one of the grapes permitted in a Bordeaux Blend, has made a name for itself in ARGENTINA. In general, MALBEC can be quite robust.

  • Structure wise, expect high tannins, a decent amount of acidity.
  • In terms of flavor: dark, purple-y wine with spice & pepper. Think spiced plums & blackberries.

MENDOZA, Argentina is up in the ANDES MOUNTAINS, which is particularly important for how the flavors of this varietal are expressed from this particular region. Though quite sunny in lovely Argentina (I NEED to visit one day), it can actually be quite cool high up in the mountains. This cool mountain air helps maintain the acidity and tannins (structure), while the sun still allows the grape to ripen and develop those purply fruit flavors, but as "in-your-face" fruit flavors as you might expect from a warmer climate or valley floor fruit. 

MALBEC is also grown in CAHORS, France, but it is deeper & darker in flavor there than in MENDOZA, Argentina because it is sometimes blended with TANNAT (a very dark & powerful grape) and also MERLOT. If you ever see a CAHORS wine, give it a try! (It won't say "Malbec" on the bottle though, since it is from the Old world where they name wines by PLACE, not by the grape...

If you want to learn more about MALBEC, check out THIS podcast by Elizabeth Schneider, Wine for Normal People

This is also a lovely little write-up about MALBEC from The Tasting Group.


MENDOZA, Argentina

CAHORS, France

Now, maybe I missed some of the darker fruits in there, and maybe I should know more about Northern Rhone wines (more rustic/smokey than this wine was?)...

At this point, I've read more about wine than I've gotten the chance to taste! So I have an "idea" of what I THINK wines taste like, but the only way to REALLY learn is to TASTE!

Guess I'll get on that...