The two wines featuring here are at the opposite ends of the red wine spectrum and provide interesting contrasts. The first is Fabre Montmayou’s ’07 Malbec made in Mendoza, Argentina – at 15% ABV, this is a ‘big’ wine. The other wine is a Rioja from the Contino stable, a mono-varietal Garnacha, ’08 vintage at 13.5% ABV. It comes from a relatively small production of 2600 bottles on a 153 acre estate and is unusual in being a single grape variety Rioja.
The Malbec’s colour was dense and black with a slight purple rim of youth, with the pronounced windows to be expected from the high alcohol levels. The Garnacha was a clear and bright cherry red, with a slight brown tinge to the rim, indicating some ageing.
The nose of the South American wine was all bramble and black fruits, especially prunes, a rich, big bouquet that suggested seriousness. The lighter Riojan nose was sweet with slight vegetal undertones that faded. It had high notes of acidity and possibly some alcohol which Richard detected.
The overall taste of the Malbec was savoury with a malty richness and a liquorice hit. It got broader the longer it was opened, the mouth feel being weighty. The Garnacha was a much lighter wine, of medium length, dry but with sweet fruit flavours balanced by a refreshing acidity.
Our preference was for the lighter wine (it is summer, after all) but it was interesting to contrast the two styles, each wine showing up the qualities of the other.
[Richard: both from the Wine Society and both now out of stock. The Fabre was part of a mixed case rather enthusiastically called ‘New World Giants’. I don’t really think that Fabre is up there with Ridge, Craggy Range or Columella and the tasting bore this out. A heavy wine, appealing on first nose (the ‘lead pencil’ aroma mentioned in the tasting note) but this vanished as it breathed. The nose was then spirity, as port often is. The taste was one dimensional, despite the presence of 10% Cabernet and 5% Merlot. An interesting wine but at £21 overpriced and not a purchase I’d repeat. The Contino (part of a mixed case from Contino) was much better and Geoff has summed up how I felt. He is too modest to say but he nearly got this on a blind tasting, suggesting Tintilla de Rota rather than Garnacha. Only 200 cases made, all taken by the Wine Society. (£23). Also overpriced, perhaps because of the rarity. I’d rather spend the money on a traditional Rioja.]