Argentinian Malbec Blend With a French Flair

Today’s Story: Cuvelier Los Andes

Cuvelier Los Andes is a family-owned winery established by the Cuvelier family (of Château Léoville Poyferré) in 1998 using virgin land in the Valle de Uco of Mendoza, Argentina. From 1999 to 2006, they planted the vineyards which today consist of 55 hectares planted to Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, and Petit Verdot at 3,000 feet elevation in the foothills of the Andes Mountains. All farming is manual and adheres to organic and some biodynamic viticulture, with the yields quite low and typically around 5 to 7 tons per hectare. Designed as a “cousin” to Léoville Poyferré, Cuvelier Los Andes follows nearly identical practices and all wines are made with 100% estate fruit.

When it comes to winemaking and cellar practices, Cuvelier Los Andes begins with hand-harvested fruit. At the winery, fruit is first sorted by full cluster before being destemmed and sorted again by hand and berry by berry. The grapes are then loaded into their fermentation vats using gravity and experience cold maceration for 4-6 days before primary fermentation begins with only indigenous yeasts. The maceration process as a whole lasts 30-40 days typically, then malolactic fermentation occurs in tank or barrel. For aging, the Cuvelier Los Andes wines spend 12-18 months in French oak barrels which typically have a life of 3 years with 1/3 replaced each vintage.

To learn more or visit the source of today’s story, check out the Cuvelier Los Andes website here. They have a very cool, very detailed tab discussing their vineyards which I recommend reading.

Today’s Wine: 2014 Grand Vin

77% Malbec, 17% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot; 15% ABV

The 2014 Grand Vin is opaque deep purple in color. I gave this a good hour to decant, which I think is appropriate at this stage. The nose showcases pronounced aromas of blackberry, black plum, black cherry, tobacco, eucalyptus, clay, clove, cedar, and chocolate. Meanwhile on the palate I get pronounced notes of blackberry, blueberry, red plum, sweet tobacco, vanilla, charred oak, and cocoa powder. This dry red is full-bodied with medium acidity, medium (+) tannins, high alcohol, and a long finish.

Price: $40. To be perfectly honest, I am still trying to find a Malbec (or in this case Malbec-dominated blend) that I really like. While I think this is a very solid attempt to win me over, I did not know it was 15% ABV when I purchased it and the overall largess and opulence is a bit much for my terroir-driven preferences. This being said, objectively for the typical Malbec lover and lover of bigger, bolder wines I think this offers solid value at $40 because it does have a complexity and elegance I haven’t yet found in the variety. It’s a great wine, just a bruiser for me.

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