Saturday, June 4, 2011

Spirit of Wine Review & Rating: ***+ $ Ave Malbec Premium, Mendoza, Argentina, 2007 - (BEST VALUE)

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By way of background:
Ave Malbec hails from the well-regarded area of Mendoza, Argentina, popularly-speaking the malbec capital of the world. It has been developed by Alberto Antonini in an Italian tradition at the Perdriel Estate. The 2007 vintage is finished at 14.2% alcohol.

Original review, November, 2009:

In the glass: Ave Malbec is deep purple magenta in the glass, opaque to within an eighth-inch of the edge of the glass.

On the nose: Deep, buoyant, liquored aromas, pumping creamy purple grape-sicle notes straight up into your nostrils. Fat oak framing.

On the palate: Two elements hit first: an acid twang at the sides of your mouth, and a deep black/purple fruit that coats the top of your tongue and touches the tip of your mouth. The oak and sweet tannins come as the sip settles in - tannins strong enough to pull in your cheek cavities. A powerful, deep - but still bright - experience.

And the finish: Held by the solid alcohol and tannins, the finish holds court for quite a few seconds, fading to a light purple mist.

In summary: Truly a potent experience - not for the faint of heart. Three stars on the five-star Spirit of Wine scale, as it is clearly worth a return engagement, but a plus comes along for its continuing promise too. I'd see a long decant or a few more years of bottle age as good for its prospects. Great value.

Wine Spectator liked the Ave Malbec, awarding 90 points, with this report: "Deliciously vibrant, with mouthwatering acidity running through the dark plum, violet, pastis and licorice snap notes, which stay tangy and pure on the nicely driven finish. Drink now through 2010. Tasted twice, with consistent notes. 8,000 cases made."

Updated review, a year and a half later, June, 2011:  The deep color has held fast during the past year and a half.  Most of the original aromas are there, with the creamsicle elements having faded into deep underlying fruit. The sip now moves first and foremost onto your mid-palate, bringing creamy, dark berries with sweet oak and tannins.  The finish is slippery, lush and full.  Interesting how the acids have integrated since this wine was young.  Almost makes the leap to four stars.  Still a phenomenal value. Note that even the Wine Spectator review picked up the bright acids in the initial tasting. Following long decant, several days kept cool in partially filled bottle:  The aroma is more tired now.  The palate brings many of the former elements, but now with an overlay of more generic light oxidation.  I liked the in-bottle time, but favored this with only a very short decant.

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