Sunday, October 11, 2015

Tasting Malbec with the Houston Chapter of the American Wine Society

I thoroughly enjoyed hosting the Houston Chapter of the American Wine Society at my home in September for a Malbec Tasting. This event was organized by my sister and her husband, a long time member of the organization. We opted to set up tasting stations throughout the house to allow guests to move through with greater ease. 

My sister was recovering from a recent foot surgery so she primarily manned the kitchen while I was on hand throughout the event to discuss fun facts about the wines. Attendees are given any information about the wines in which they are interested such as scores, pricing, etc, before the "people's choice" style voting. 

I shared my stories of meeting Bertrand Vigoroux here in Houston, he was the producer of two of the evening's wines, and my more recent introduction to Aurelio Montes of Kaiken at a wine event in New York. My brother in law, who has traveled extensively throughout South America, shared his stories about the Argentine wine tours at Balboa and Catena. 

The tasting began upon each guest's arrival in the foyer with some chilled rosé. 
  • 2014 Georges Vigouroux “Pigmentum" Rosé Cotes du Lot ($11)- Dry, refreshing, raspberry/apricot aromas, minerality, long finish.
  • 2013 La Flor Malbec Rosé Mendoza ($15)- Dry, smooth, red berry/plum, dried herbs and spice.
Next stop, the coffee table, where there were some anytime, affordable reds ready to try.
  • 2013 Urban UCO Malbec Valle de Uco ($10)- From high altitude vineyards, fresh sweet berries, lightly spiced finish.
  • 2012 Kaiken Malbec Reserva - Mendoza ($10)- More floral, plum flavor, smooth finish
In the dining room, members found Malbec from more specific areas in the $20+ price range.
  • 2012 Susana Balboa Signature Malbec-Valle de Uco ($25)- A blend of 92% Malbec with 8% Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from high elevation desert vineyards. Floral, ripe berries, elegant, smooth finish.
  • 2012 Luigi Bosca Single Vineyard Malbec- Lujan de Cuyo ($21)- From a 70 year old high altitude vineyard. Fuller bodied, more intense, rich, ripe blackberry, white pepper, spicy finish.
  • 2009 Chateau De Mercues Malbec- Cahors ($22)- From the vineyards surrounding the home that housed the Bishop of Cahors for centuries. Full bodied, also intense with berries, spice, dried herbs and a savory note, more structured, long finish.
The final wine:
  • 2011 Catena Alta “Historic Rows” Malbec- Mendoza $(48)- Sourced from select rows from four Zapata family Andean vineyards to create a best of blend to reflect the four generations of the family that have worked there. Savory with blueberry jam, eucalyptus; structured, tighter.
Guests could then move throughout the house to retry the wines or head into the kitchen. Snacks for the event included warm smoked sliced sausage with barbecue sauce on the side with sweet potato chips, fresh bread and crackers served with a cheese array and a platter of fresh berries with an assortment of roasted nuts and dark chocolates.

The cocktail party atmosphere was interrupted briefly for a short meeting. Members and guests then placed their votes for their favorite wine of the evening and the winners were announced. Opinions varied in this close competition with the fourth place winner ending with 11 votes.

The Winners:
First place- 2012 Luigi Bosca with 18 votes 
2nd place- 2011 Catena Alta & 2014 Georges Vigouroux "Pigmentum" Rosé- tied with 13 votes each
3rd place- 2009 Chateau De Mercues with 12 votes

It was a great time with a great group of people!