Urraca - 2008 Malbec / 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon

marca_urraca_altaA few months back I took a look at several wines in the Urraca portfolio. A Chardonnay and two blends were the current releases at the time. All three were impressive expressions of what can be achieved in Argentina at a super-premium level. Now Urraca has also released a couple of varietal wines that come in at a lower price point. I’ll look at their current Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon today. First up is the Urraca 2008 Malbec. The fruit for this offering, 100% Malbec, was sourced at the Urraca vineyard in Agrelo. Barrel aging was accomplished over 12 months in a combination of new French and American oak. The suggested retail price for this wine is $24.50.

Plum, black cherry and hints of vanilla bean express themselves prominently in the nose of this Malbec. Throughout the persistent palate there is a lot of intense, dark and brooding fruit. In addition to being dark though the flavors are also fresh, young, brash and deep. Blackberry and raspberry are among the standout notes. Around mid-palate sweet dark chocolate notes kick in and continue through the lovely finish where they’re joined by black pepper, espresso, smoked meat and a hint of tar. The length of the finish is above average.

For me this Malbec compares favorably to well made and jammy Zinfandels from California. The commonalities include bold and expressive fruit and a wide range of flavors. In many ways I think these varietals have a lot in common as the entry point for both can be very reasonable in price with excellent quality for the money. And that is one of the many reasons I feel Malbec is making such an impact in the US. And to continue the comparison, both Malbec and Zinfandel can achieve greater and more complex things when the fruit, and the way it’s treated come together. This Malbec is one example of that.  For a bit over $20 this wine offers a very nice value and just as importantly an excellent expression of Argentina’s signature red varietal.

The second selection today is the Urraca 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon. As with the Malbec, fruit was also sourced at the Estate vineyard in Agrelo. This selection is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon and it spent 12 months in a combination of new French and American oak. The suggested retail price for this wine is $24.50.

Bing Cherry aromas are prominent in the nose of this Cabernet Sauvignon along with some vanilla and an ever so subtle hint of tar. The palate is loaded with a solid core of fruit. Plum, blueberry and continued cherry are the stars of the show. Red fruit flavors lead, but darker fruit echoes it to provide a nice contrast on the tongue. Earth and black pepper emerge in the finish which has good length and remarkable smoothness. The tannins on this wine are fine and soft and it has very solid acidity. This is an excellent food wine and found myself craving a dish of pasta with red sauce.

When I first started drinking wines from Argentina about 15 years ago Cabernet Sauvignon is what drew me in. I was amazed by the number of remarkably solid Cabs coming out of Argentina at prices other parts of the world couldn’t touch. Today there are even more wines in that category on US shelves which serve as a good introduction to Argentine wines. However there is a growing segment of wines coming from Argentina that steps things up in quality and complexity. This Cabernet Sauvignon is simply better, with more going on than many others on the shelf. Yes it’s a bit more than the selections that are pure value products. They say you get what you pay for; in this case you get more. If you normally spend around $20 on Cabernet, from California for instance, you’ll be impressed with what this one delivers for the price. My recommendation would be to drink this 2008 Cabernet from Urraca over the next few years when its young fruit flavors can best shine.

While I’m a big fan of blends and always curious to see how the diverse varietals converge to create a unique wine, straight varietal offerings are equally fascinating to me. When they represent a particular spot in a specific year as these do they tell the story of a vineyard at a moment in time. Both of these wines from Urraca do that quite well. Considered alongside their super-premium offerings the Urraca portfolio has grown in breadth and impressiveness. I’m awed by the Urraca wines as a whole and equally excited by what they represent for Argentine wine in the US.

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