Archive for October, 2011

2008 Bramare Vina Cobos Lujan de Cuyo Malbec

Ryan’s been keeping up lately, so I thought I’d step my game up and open a bottle I have been saving for about a month (long time, I know). I thought I’d take a minute while I’m waiting for the wine to open up to get this post started.

Bramare 2008 Bottle

Bramare 2008 Bottle

I’m a huge fan of Malbec, particularly the 2006 vintage. I posted last winter about two amazing 2006 bottles that I was fortunate enough to have before they started to disappear (or sell for $50+ per bottle). The inky texture, the blackberry and heavy, jammy flavor and mouth feel… well it’s like getting kicked in the face with awesome. Currently I’m getting some notes of actual ink off of this puppy, like the Bic pen kind. Sort of gummy. The nose is a little confusing, like sensory overload. Black and blueberry bubble gum. That’s what I’ve decided.

So, I’ve tasted this before and it’s overly hot if it doesn’t open up for a little while, so let’s learn some shit about Bramare together.

Bramare is the Italian word for “to yearn for”. The back of the bottle says that the grapes are “sourced from premier vineyards in the Lujan de Cuyo appellation, located at 945 to 1100 meters elevation in Mendoza. Aged 18 months in small oak barrels.” Wikipedia tells us that this particular area sits “on alluvial soils; sandy or stony surfaces on clay substrata.” I’m very interested to see how this plays out in the wine, as I’m a big fan of the sand and clay terroir. This is their “middle-tier” wine, by the way. Selling at a middle-tier price of around $42.

I have been having some rather long and intensely satisfying conversations with Ryan about what we’re going to be trying this winter, and after spending the last two or three years really delving into the wine world with him, it’s very interesting to see that we’re taking two distinctly different paths. From what I understand, Ryan broke his Cotes du Rhone cherry a few weeks ago–something I’m pretty thrilled about. CdR is one of my favorite regions. Syrah and Grenache are bomb-ass varietals, not to mention the insanely value-driven pricing on most CdRs. You can buy a (rated) bottle for $8.99-$12.99. Sure they can stretch up to $30 for the super high-end stuff, but who is going to drink that when there is so much good to be had in the 99%’s price range? Condescension! Fuck the proletariat! I just like good wine. I’d also like to say that Ryan is talking about getting into Chardonnays, and I’m very excited that he may be able to point me in the direction of some the more awesome, toasted apple, medium-bodied Chards that are out there. It’s beginning to get a little chilly in Michigan to be sucking down all those summer-month refreshing drinks, so something with a little toast and body to it sounds amazing.

This wine is totally bubblegum on the nose. Thick, jammy, succulent bubblegum. I can’t get my nose far enough into the glass. I think I’m going to start drinking it through my nostrils if I don’t start sipping. I’ll give you guys a little peek before I start, though:

triple threat.

Revised Conclusion

I had originally written a completely different conclusion, but upon completion, more tasting, and a little more waiting, this wine is starting to show more promise. I WILL leave the original conclusion after this post so you can see my first thoughts. Let me just tell you I’ve been letting this wine open for over an hour, I’ve been shaking, swirling, sloshing, letting it oxidize. This is not a “open and drink” kind of wine at all. It is hot. It is slightly unforgiving. My twisted taste buds think that the acid–and something… what I feel like is the beginning of sediment?–is sweet to the tongue. But this isn’t so bad. Third pour is revealing a more complex structure, a kinder tongue, and fuller mouth, and that INSANE tongue-biting finish you’d expect from a fucking Barbaresco. I don’t know what this wine is trying to be, but it’s not like any kind of Malbec I’ve ever had before. Tart blueberry is appearing in the mouth and nose, but there is still a lot of bubblegum ink. I’m raising my opinion of this to an 85, and recanting my “there is zero structure” statement. I will say with 100% certainty that this is a $12 bottle of Malbec that stole its older brother’s ID and went out drinking at dive bars until 12am trying to hook up with 5′s.

Original Conclusion

This is extremely disappointing, and I’m not sure what to think about it. Hot on the tongue, narrow mouth, and almost sickeningly sweet on the finish. There is acid, I will give it that much… But so much alcohol. My nose is running profusely after having tasted this. A few more rinses reveal that there is very little to this wine: tons of ink… The flavor IS like bubblegum–in that it loses its flavor far too quickly and it’s all just manufactured anyway. So disappointing. I was going to give the other bottle I have of this to someone as a present, but no way am I going to insult a wine drinker by giving him this wine. This will be another “oh I’ve run out of anything else to drink” bottle. I’m going to go make some pasta and red sauce, as it seems like that would be a good match. Plenty of red sauce.

I actually just looked at the bottle to see that this is 14.9% abv, a little on the high side for Malbec, which ranges from 13.5% to 14.5%.

I’m a pretty heavy drinker, and I like my booze–some would tell you I love it–but if I tasted this blind without knowing how much it cost, I’d spit it out and order a house cab before taking another sip. Suck it Bramare: 80.

Alright Mondavi, I See What Your Game Is

So, in spite of the so-so $17 bottle of wine-that-isn’t-impressing-anyone from last week, I’m after a merlot that soothes my deep-down need for a fruitbomb to go off in my mouth.

And folks, I think I’m as close as I’m going to get.

Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Merlot 2007

This wine is everything you’d expect at a gay rights parade. It’s young, it’s hot, it’s a little spicy and it’s EXTRA fruity.

The nose really gives off a lot of blueberry and alcohol, but the mouth actually helps to tone the latter down. It’s blueberry, it’s blackberry, it’s all the black fruit you can imagine, but with very little sweetness. The oak is not overdone like you might find in those less expensive Mondavi wines, and everything balances together rather nicely.

This is not a structured Napa cabernet with lots of wood and barnyard; this is a fruit explosion in which the oak is meant to help remind you that you’re not drinking Welch’s grape juice, and the tannins are there to cover your tongue for a while so you aren’t gulping it down in sinful bliss.

From my experience, Mondavi (like a lot of the other big names in Napa) have their various wines on a tiered system: the “private selection” being near the bottom, and this “Napa Valley” likely being the next step up. I’m not sure which other levels their are in the middle, but I know that the top has one of what I like to call my “bucket list” wines (Opus One), which means I’ll likely encounter them on the way.

Hopefully soon my California red obsession will fade away, and I can start turning toward some of the more obscure (read: affordable) wines from around the world which don’t seem to ever get enough review.

The fruit and the fun of this wine make me want to give it a 90, but the high alcohol makes me want to take a point away leaving it at a very healthy (and happy) 89.