Well, what a big, big bottle of wine this is.
It looks bigger than other bottles; it smells bigger than other bottles; it even tastes bigger than other bottles. As of about two years ago, I am a Malbec convert – as of this moment, Alamos‘ ‘Wines of Catena‘ Malbec is the best I’ve had.
I have a feeling that this tapered, top-heavy bottle shape is unique to Argentina, because I have a vague recollection of trying a similarly-shaped Che Guevara-themed Argentinian wine with a motorcycle on the front a few Christmases ago. But that aside, this bottle itself – whose label sports rugged mountain peaks – has an entirely imposing feel to it, and is altogether more affecting and more well-suited to its contents than most product packaging, wine-related or otherwise, ever manages to be.
The smell is confusing: it’s a barrelful of bruised fruits in the space of a single glass; it’s a cave of fruit bats in a box of raisins; it’s a well of black treacle in a jar of damson jam.
Yes, I find Malbec hard to place at the best of times, but I do know that I like it, and I know that this is as fine an example as you’ll come across for the downright generous price of £7.49.
It’s a thoroughly enjoyable wine, this, and it pulls no punches.
If you’ve heard of the grape, Malbec, you’ll have heard the success story behind its newfound status as Argentina’s signature wine; the way the Argentinians took the forgotten French grape (usually used in Bordeaux blends, apparently) and made it their own is somehow mythic: Malbec is the Lazarus of the wine world. Or the Cinderella. Or the Martín Palermo, perhaps.
Malbec has mystery, then, or good PR at the very least. But more importantly, Malbec is fun.
Not into Malbec yet? There’s no time like the present! And Alamos‘ Malbec is as full-flavoured as you could hope for: a hefty wine, yet nothing about it suggests clumsiness; the strength is admirable but the edges are all well-rounded. The tannins are not too tart, and the 14% alcohol is well-concealed within inky depths of sweet, suffocating fruity goodness.
I would be genuinely surprised if I served a glass of this to anyone who had even the most perfunctory appreciation of red wine and they were not moved to superlatives.
It. Is. That. Good.
Available from Majestic at the aforementioned price of £7.49.
Photograph by Karen Narkiewicz.