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In-Store Review: Melodía Malbec 2007 March 14, 2014

Posted by Alex Sawit in About Wine.
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By Alex Sawit

March 14, 2014

 

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OUR WINE RATING GUIDE

                                 10 = Great
                                   9 = Exceptionally Good
                                   8 = Very Good
                                   7 = Good
                                   6 = Above Fair
                                   5 = Fair
                                   4 = Poor
                                   3 = Very Poor
                                   2 = Horrifically Poor
                                   1 = Abominable

To learn more, click here.

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You know how folks always taught us not to judge a book by its cover?

Back in the 20th century (if you still remember what life was like before the internet, along with the resulting habit of hanging out at the neighborhood Starbucks for overpriced coffee and free WiFi), if you wanted to research on whether that bottle of wine you saw at the grocery was worth buying, you did it the old-fashioned way. You either asked a friend whose knowledge about wine you trusted or you leafed through a magazine stack of Wine Spectator to read the review. And if you couldn’t do either, you had no choice but to gamble on it.

So, wine merchants advised that if you had nothing else to guide you but your gut instinct, you should do this: judge the wine by how nice the bottle looks. In other words, judge the book by its cover.

Sounds childish? Actually, there’s practical sense in what the wine merchants advised. Making good wine is an art and a labor of love, they told us, and a good wine maker is always an artist. A wine maker who cares enough to craft his grapes into beautiful wine will also care enough to put it in a decent bottle. It doesn’t have to appear fancy; regardless of design, the bottle and especially the label should simply look well-crafted with quality. A sloppy, cheap-looking label, the merchants warned, tells you that this is likely a cheap-tasting wine from an uncaring wine maker. If it looks expensive, chances are it tastes that way too.

A lot has changed since the last century. The average Filipino wine drinker is now more knowledgeable, more discriminating. Plus, everything is available to read online. Nevertheless, the old-school advice of the wine merchants still works when you need it, which is exactly what I proved to myself with the Melodía Malbec 2007.

Originally from Bordeaux, Malbec is now famous as Argentina’s signature varietal. In France, it’s a tough, aggressive grape used primarily for blending, but in Argentina the soil and climate conspire to make a richer yet more elegantly full-bodied red that is a star on its own.

Melodía’s Malbec debuted at Cyrano thanks to Norma, the genteel lady who imports it from Argentina (the wine maker, Jorge, is her cousin, who produces very restricted quantities of wine from his family estate, which is located in one of the most admired wine districts in the country). As I explained in my previous post, I didn’t know a thing about Melodía winery when Norma first showed up at our doorstep. But she told such a lovely story about the passion of the wine maker that it made me believe, and I ordered from her without sampling anything first.

All I know is that when Norma showed me the bottle, I couldn’t stop enjoying it visually. Physically, it’s hefty, wide at the shoulders and tapering slightly toward the bottom. South American wineries traditionally save heavy bottles like this for their best reds – to showcase the weight of their accomplishment, so to speak. It’s one indication that this is probably something the wine maker takes special pride in.

But it was the simple, seductive beauty of the label that convinced me that this has to be a good bottle of vino. It’s just very well art-directed. At the top is written, “Melodía por J, Benites”, followed by the varietal name and vintage year, all set against a stylish, embossed wallpaper of sheet music. Norma explained that her cousin plays a classical instrument, which leads me to the fascinating presumption that the wine maker has left an actual melody on every bottle for customers to play.

 

Care to try the sheet music on violin or piano?

 

That was months ago and I’ve been recommending Melodía Malbec to customers ever since. I’m even happy to report that everyone who has tried it has become a fan.

And here’s the funny part: I only bothered to try it myself about two weeks ago.

I like the deep, powerful expressiveness of a solidly good Argentine Malbec. That’s what Melodía is. Newly poured, it reminds me of the rustic aroma of rich, fruity Brazilian drip coffee with hints of smokiness, along with a shot of Crème de Violette on the side, but after an hour of breathing it settles into a kind of creamy Italian espresso.

I’m used to good Malbec being on the thick side but this Melodía is far more finessed. Wine maker Jorge Benites practices extended aging in the bottle to give more gracefulness to his wines before they are released to buyers. Add the fact that this is already a seven year-old vintage and you have a full-bodied wine with velvety tannins. The flavors, too, are excellently ripened, like a smooth ristretto of Arabica downed after a teaspoon of old-fashioned blueberry preserve, finished with a tiny bite of chili black chocolate.

Looking back, I guess my subconscious was telling me to put that old-school advice of the wine merchants to the test. I kept waiting for a customer to step forward, saying, “I hate this wine! What? You haven’t tried it? And you had the nerve to recommend it?” I kept waiting to be proven wrong. But everyone just kept loving it.

Now that I’ve tasted it, I love it too. It’s just one vintage, I know, and I have no way of knowing if Melodía will be consistent with future releases. Goodness knows, I’ve been burned in the past by stocking up wines that were good one year and then awful the next. But I’m old-school about stuff like this. I trusted my gut instinct before about Melodía and I’m getting the same feeling now.

Melodía Malbec is here at Cyrano to stay.

 

 

 

CYRANO’S RATING:

  EXCEPTIONALLY GOOD (Score 8.5)

 

Wine: Melodia Malbec 2007

Grape: Malbec 100%

Country: Argentina

Wine Region:
  Mendoza (Central)
  – Vineyard in Agrelo, Luján de Cuyo

Ageing:
  8 months in 100% French oak
  Minimum 12 months in the bottle

Production:
  1,300 cases (12 bottles each)

Suggested Food Pairing:
– Bistecca Fiorentina
– Manchego Cheese

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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