Tuesday, 10 February 2009

The Feast of Saint Tlaloc

Hey baby,

Here is a brief summary of Friday night's holy Feast of Saint Tlaloc, which was held at Trevol's house, who did a stellar job of hosting a 'clench' on his first attempt.

To celebrate, we invited an Argentinian girl to come round and give us a presentation of red wines made by the winery she works for, NQN. It has to be said, before anything else, that she came round with a very open and positive attitude considering it amounted to a busman's holiday for her. Gracias Julia.

We had a wee tour of several reds, starting with the younger ones and then trying a couple with a bit of barrel. To boot off, a coupage called Picada 15, from 2006, made from cab sauv, merlot, malbec and pinot noir. I personally get thrown by these blends sometimes, not knowing exactly what it is I'm sensing and why, but with more experience and a little shared reflection, you can begin to see what the different varieties bring to the bottle. The deep ruby red colour, for example, is the mark of the malbec, the sweet berry nose the calling card of the merlot. For a youngster, this wine was quite rounded and dry in the mouth, and the cabernet sauvignon made it's seductively gutteral presence felt at tasting time, bringing assosiations of black pepper and spice.

The next bottle up to bat was another Picada 15, this one cien por cien malbec: a grape which had previously been derided as a producer of poor quality wine but seems to be flying in Argentina. This one was even darker in colour than the previous, like a smashed prune perhaps. At first whiff, not much doing, but after agitation of the vessel, a forest fruit medley ensued with branchy interventions. A few sips revealed a tanic and cynical character with a haunting sense of humour.

After these whippersnappers had been put to bed, it was time to get aquainted with a couple of bottles demonstrating the effect of doing grape hard time in American and French oak slammers. A duo of crianzas: a Spanish term to mean that the wine has been aged for a while, in this case, six months. First a 100% malbec from the Malma line, whose appearance was not disimilar to the previous tipple in terms of eye and nose, but the gentle toasted touch coupled with vanilla to create a more complex and special brew.

Shortly afterwards, a Cabernet Sauvignon from the same name and maturing process. This time, the beautiful orange hue was as plain as day around the fringe of the liquid. The wine provoked meaty dreams as it was nasally inspected and was the heavy hitter that we had been expecting after sampling its like with the first bottle: long and strong like the holy month of Ramalamadingdong.

Finally we were presented a duo of reservas. If the last two had done a stretch in chokey for not paying their telly licence, these next ones were pure GBHers. Again going by the family name Malma, we tried a 100% merlot number who had 12 months under its belt. Purple and bright, this had similar qualities in hooter and gob, feminine and perfumed as it was, interesting contrast to the previous variety as it also was.

To round off, a logical conclusion and an effective way to appriciate the effect of quality maturing. A Malma malbec reserve, almost black in its pot-pourri appearance. Hints of chocolate had been aquired to the nose, and its flavour embelished with a generous clout of tannins.

I'd recommend organising a night like this, a tasting trip through the cellars of a particular brand and appelation, so as the qualities of grapes and processes are made evident without the distraction of varying zones, soil types, maturing processes and the like.

Many thanks to all that took part.

Bye bye baby.

Mark Philip Dix I

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