Saturday, June 25, 2011

Spirit of Wine Review & Rating: *** $ Las Lenas Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina, 2009 - (BEST VALUE)

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By way of background: Las Lenas Malbec from Mendoza, Argentina, is a 2009 vintage, being tasted in the same calendar year, 2009. Not the best habit to get into with malbecs, but with the Las Lenas coming in at a "practically free" price, it seemed worth getting an early peek at.

Mendoza is certainly an appropriate area in Argentina in which to seek high-value malbec. This one is vinted to a final 13% alcohol.

Original review, December, 2009:  

In the glass: Las Lenas Malbec is medium dark red in the glass, actually moving to opaque about an inch in from the sides.

On the nose: Poured without a decant and swirled vigorously, this malbec sports an unusually shy nose. With a deep sniff to draw up the alcohol, you get a hint of fresh plums.

On the palate: A fuller plum flavor cascades across your tongue as the first note. Light acids bring it bouncing along your mouth, along with a light dusting of cocoa powder.

And the finish: It settles after awhile in your cheeks and gums with a full though somewhat tangy plum fruit. Acids, not tannins, close out the sip, almost bringing a pucker to your eyes.

In summary: Much brighter than typical malbec from Mendoza, call it medium-full in body, simple in structure, pleasant-enough in overall tone. Two stars on the five-star Spirit of Wine scale, with a plus for simple approachability. Good value.

Following long decant, three days partially bottled with vac-u-vin: On the nose: Nose still missing in action! On the palate: Consistent here too, with pleasant full start and sweet, lightly acidic edges. And the finish: Sweetness comes with the acid prickle on the finish. Score holds.

Updated review, a year and a half later, June, 2011:  Still medium dark red in the glass, but doesn't seem to hit opaque in the middle any longer.  Bigger nose, soft, lightly fragrant ripe plums.  Soft ripe blackberry and plums drift along the palate, with acids and very light tannins providing some lift.  The tangy plums have softened, creating a nicer overall tone.  It now reaches three stars two full years from vintage date, becoming a best value at its crazy low price point.  This might have another year of bottle time productively still ahead of it, but it is getting close to peak.  Following long decant, full day kept cool in partially filled bottle:  Both the nose and the palate have grown more mute, diminishing the experience slightly. 

Find Las Lenas Malbec prices and retail availability.

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