Argentina Uncorked: 2010 Casarena Lauren's Vineyard Malbec

"Tell me what you drink, and I'll tell you who you are," he said, paraphrasing Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, the famed French gastronome.

I've tasted wines from every major wine region on the planet. But I've only visited a handful of wine-regions outside the U.S. those being Champagne, Bordeaux, Languedoc, Rioja, Navarra, Tuscany, Campania, Umbria, Puglia, and Slovenia. I have yet to visit a single region in the Southern Hemisphere, it's however high on the list of wine regions I need and want to visit. But that said, I think Argentina would be first on my list of the southern hemisphere new world wine regions to visit, followed by Chile, Australia and then New Zealand.

As some have said, 'comparison' is the thief of joy. But as far as the comparison between neighboring Chile and Argentina, I'd say with cumulative experiences I've had with the wines from these two countries, both are very different in some aspects, and the same in other ways. For example, if you look at each countries 'signature' grapes, Carmenere and Malbec respectively, you can see how each of these European varietals somehow made themselves at home in foreign soils. With each varietal expressing their unique character and quality, which neither grape was able to achieve on their own as a single varietal in their country of origin. It's fascinating that it would seem that it was meant to be, wine brings not only people but cultures together. 

If the wine in today's review is any type of indicator of a trend, then I'm on the bandwagon. In the past [not so long ago really] Malbec from Mendoza have been hit or miss for me, some excellent examples of wines with lively acidity, lovely wild blueberries and dark ripe blackberry flavors, aromas, coupled with its inexpensive price profile. It was big win/win for the average vino-sapiens in search of real bang for the buck. While on the other end of the spectrum, some were dull and predictable. However, the Malbec wines I've tasted recently, are far better in an overall sense than in previous experiences, the exception is becoming the rule. 

In general, there has been plenty of mouth-filling fruit ripeness, a style often found very pleasing to the "California" palate, and that's not always a bad thing. Sometimes you just want a bit of hedonism, I'm guilty of that desire, and I make no apologies for it. Many of us know Malbec has a reputation of providing a very good quality-to-price-ratio, this wine below has it spades. Just one slurp of the 2010 Lauren's Vineyard, from Casarena, has convinced me, that it's possible to once more see authentic, soulful Malbec fill our collective cellars and glasses which that brings a big smile to my face.

In today's review, a fantastic Malbec with a view of high-peak overlooking Agrelo, a small wine-producing village about 20 miles to the south of the city of Mendoza. It's said to be one of this region's most famous wine estates. The town is located in the western foothills of the Andes Mountains, the wine-producing zone of Agrelo slopes upward from the city, toward the Andes. As many of know may already know, but I think it bears repeating, that height is a critical element of what makes Argentine Malbec so unique.

It can be said that in many ways that like people, "where your attitude determines your altitude in life" so to do the Malbec grapes of Casarena Winery and Vineyards. After a visit to their impressive vineyards, you'll find vines growing on the foothill slopes of the [altitude] Andes [many thousands of feet above sea level] exposed to the sun's greater ultraviolet effects, where these grapes grow a thicker-skin [attitude]. Skins that produce wines with far more aromatics and elegant tannins, much more so than their counterparts across the pond in Cahors, France. These grapes have found a new home, sporting French roots with newly discovered Argentine soul.

So are you now left wondering, "Um, okay what do you think about this wine?" I'm so glad you asked, In a word, it's quite delectable! Another Malbec that I can recommend to my friends, family, and other interested onlookers gathered around the wine cooler.

Looking for authenticity, a bottle of wine with real soul and substance? In my opinion, this Malbec has it in spades, the jury's verdict is unanimous, stupendous quality to price ratio here. The 2010 Lauren's Vineyard from Casarena is a pure delight, uber approachable, a vein of acidity keeps the abundant blueberry and blackberry fruit in check. And yes it's high octane, tho you'd hardly notice. But those with an overactive sensitivity to any wine over 12% will be easily repulsed by its stated 14.9% abv oh-my. So please look away now. The finish is long and clean, plumbed nicely with vibrant minerality, a real crowd pleaser!

While the suggested price tag range is $33 to $45 [I didn't pay that much tho] may have you wincing a bit, it places you squarely in the 1% club. Even with that tag, you'll not regret one moment of the sheer pleasure you derive from one of the more balanced expressions of Argentine Malbec I've had the pleasure to experience.

Could this wine signal the return of Malbec's dominance? Actually, I'm not sure, but we can all hold our collective wine-loving breath, hoping it is so. Until next time folks, please remember life is short so don't settle for the everyday commodity plonk that so many of the 99% quaff without so much as a thought. So choose wisely, slurp long and prosper cheers!


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