I’m always looking to expand my knowledge of Argentine wine. It excites me. It’s rare that I’m left disappointed with a bottle and I think the diversity of the growing conditions from Salta in the north to Patagonia in the south make for some truly interesting and distinctive delights. Tonight I’m tasting a couple of 2018s from Escorihuela Gascón.
Escorihuela Gascón is the oldest winery in Mendoza city, founded in Godoy Cruz in 1884. Miguel Gascón moved from Spain in 1880, establishing a winery and 42 acres of vineyards four years later. Throughout the 20th century, the producer has remained at the forefront of the country’s identity in the wine world and is one of its 10 most important exporters. They have vineyards in Almero and Altamira (El Cepillo). The former is located in Luján de Cayo, which receives a cooling influence from the winds that descend from the Andes. The soil consists of water-retaining sandy loam. The latter consists of alluvial soil, with sandy loam in the lower reaches and a rocky profile at the higher levels. There is an emphasis on minimal intervention winemaking and the company produces wine from a variety of grapes, including Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Syrah.
This is made in the Agrelo vineyard from 100% Malbec and is aged for a relatively short period of 4 months in French and American oak. This produces a fresh and fruity style of Malbec with a medium nose of red cherry, strawberry, blackberry, black pepper, earth and a hint of clove. It has a deep ruby appearance and in the mouth it has medium plus acidity and body with nice rounded tannins and a medium plus finish. Plenty of plump primary fruit here, true to the nose, but also with some black plum, blueberry and a degree of minerality along with the grape’s signature peppery spice attack. I can really sense the cooling influence in this wine. It’s great to try this style of Malbec for a change, as I tend to see the big hitters more often. It’s a more approachable example that I think would be appreciated by a wide audience.
This is a blend of Malbec (60%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (40%) with the former being sourced from the El Cepillo vineyard and the latter from vineyards in San José, Tupungato. I can’t find information regarding the ageing period but it’s evidently much longer than the Familia and takes place in French oak exclusively (80% new and 20% old).
The aromas emanating from this wine truly seduce you. It’s like Christmas in the desert. It has a deep ruby colour (darker than the Familia) with flashes of purple and a pronounced nose of sweet blackcurrant tart, baked black cherry, liquorice, smoke, vanilla, clove, nutmeg, cinnamon, dark chocolate, leather, treacle, dates and menthol. There is so much going on here. The fruit, spices and heat sit in perfect balance. You know a wine is going to be good when you slowly close your eyes and luxuriate for a while after the first smell.
When you taste it, you are not let down in the slightest. The grandeur of its smell is deftly supported by the complexity of its taste. It is full bodied with grippy tannins, high acidity and a long, dark, sleek finish. Blackcurrant, red sour cherry, black plum, mint, vanilla, smoke, black pepper, burnt caramel, butter, coffee, toast, cinnamon and herbs. Everything is in this wine. Everything. I’m quite floored by it. It’s big on the alcohol but there is ample flavour and structure to stand up to this. It’s a majestic beast and probably the best Argentine wine I’ve tasted.
In summary, these are two wonderful wines. They are both very different in style, with the Familia being fresh and fruit-forward and the Meg exhibiting a far more secondary and tertiary profile. The Familia is a shining, solid example of really good Malbec. It’s playful and yet you have to take it seriously due to it’s bold fruit and peppery, earthy attitude. I need to have this with cassoulet and crusty bread tout suite, quite frankly. I think they are both drinking well now but whereas the Familia would benefit from being enjoyed within the next five years or so, the Meg will continue to develop and sing for years to come (fifteen years at least possibly). I can see that tertiary element really building well and the tannins will fall out nicely. I would say it’s less food friendly than the Familia but roast rosemary lamb and glazed veg wouldn’t go a miss. Personally, I’d like it simply with some good music. I’d love to get another bottle to put away for a while….possibly even until next Wednesday.
These wines are available at Fine Wines Direct (Cardiff):
Also see: http://www.escorihuelagascon.com.ar/