Don Miguel Gascón Malbec 2006
Most wines that seem purple on first look fit in better in the red or ruby color categories, but
the 2006 Gascón Malbec from Mendoza in Argentina is about as purple as you can get; the
giveaway is a good deal of blue in the wine. By no means Argentina's only wine region,
Mendoza is its most prominent. The area is generally characterized by cooling elevation, but
it is as varied as it is large, which allows the wine maker to combine the best fruit from a
number of climates. The Gascón Malbec includes grapes from Agrelo, La Consulta, Vistalba
and Tupungato, a swath of the earth that would appear larger than it sounds, if you
superimposed a map of, say, Burgundy. Though the French-born Malbec grape has thrived in
Argentina, it has many means of expression in that large country. It is also coming to express
itself well on the North American market.
The $12 Gascón is 100% Malbec, aged nine months in a mix of American and French oak, both old and new. Oak is well represented in this wine, both in the nose and on the palate. When I decant a wine so as to aerate it, I usually nose the decanter to make sure the wine is clean, but in this case the aromas of the Gascón were so evocative that I made some initial notes, which jibed with my formal aroma notes from the glass some four hours later. “Warm ripe fruit” was my first general impression, then I identified plum, blueberry, violet, chocolate, vanilla and baking spice. Other than the chocolate, it all fits in with a tasty blueberry tart, and I have to note, for what it's worth, that both the blueberry and the violet notes are in accord with the wine's striking purple color.
The wine is very dry, with medium acidity, medium tannins, but a good black fruit plum and
berry intensity. The key palate note is a chocolate cocoa roasted-coffee mocha element,
tagged with more of the vanilla and baking spice. The finish is fairly long, with a bit of the
toasted mocha at the end, and the kind of caramelized sweetness you get from nicely toasted
bread. This is a toasty wine all around, and one you can get your teeth into.
Verdict: Mainstream Mendoza
The Argentinians use varieties in altitude and topographic aspect in the Mendoza region to fine tune their Malbec vintages.
James Beard Award Nominee Elliot Essman