I never liked competitive fighting, in fact, I stopped practicing Judo and Tae-Kwon-Do because of the intense competitive mindset. Now that I’ve spent some time training Ninjutsu, I realize that it was because I had bad instructors who didn’t help me understand fighting.
What does this have to do with wine? A lot! Keep reading.
I was invited to Cafe Malbec to a wine tasting titled The Power of Malbec. Our host was Alistair from Las Bodegas and the way he talked us through his wines was just the way a good Sensei teaches you fighting at the dojo: You are given a pattern, you practice it over and over again and once you think you start understanding the technique, Sensei tells you a bit more about it and a whole world of possibilities open. For this tasting, we had a similar approach; each wine was poured, tasted over and over again and then Alistair would tell us something about it. The wine started to make sense!
I have to emphasize that he never told us what the wine should smell like or taste like, he let our senses do the judging.
The same practice can be applied to wine; if you don’t like a certain grape variety or style of wine is mainly because you’ve been told the wrong thing about it. If someone tells you what a wine smells and tastes like, you’re already getting a sensorial image of what to expect and then you either are surprised or disappointed.
I agree with this way of teaching 100% and it’s a great way to let people learn about wine. Get them to smell, touch, try and play with the wine, let people explore it and get familiar with it then explain why they are getting those aromas and flavors.
See where I’m going now?
Malbec is a grape that blends very well with other varieties, particularly in Argentina. But not all Argentinian Malbec is the same. Like any good fighter, Malbec is an intense and very powerful grape incredibly adaptable to its environment. Terroir in Argentina is like the dojo where each vine grows its unique style and characteristics.
Think I’m crazy? Maybe but this is the way I learned grapes and regions at uni. I’m terrible at remembering names so I had to build a mental picture of Malbec. Every single time, the grape’s intensity hit me like a punch in the face, that’s why I gave it the image of a fighter. Then add a style of fighting to a different type of Malbec, so in my mind and my senses I pictured how Judo tastes like, how Kung-Fu tastes like and so on… That’s how I learned how to recognize regions, blends and varieties.
The point of this tasting was not only to showcase what Las Bodegas has on offer but to show the versatility of Malbec and the immense power it has to produce wines of all styles and forms.
First on was a fascinating Non Vintage sparkling Malbec:
Then a playful and vibrtant Malbrontes:
Then a serious and elegant 100% Malbec
Then we had a blind tasting for a chance to win a Magnum of Malbec. We simply had to taste the wine and tell what varieties we thought were in the blend and say what style of French wine it shares a production method with.
Initially, I noticed Pinot Noir but then my brain played tricks on me and thought there was a white blend in it. In terms of style, it was so much like a Beaujolais!
Tough competition, but I took the Magnum home!
The wine happened to be a Pinot Noir and Malbec blend with a bit of carbonic maceration. The style is pretty adventurous for that side of the world and it’s made by two brother producers who have a visionary idea of how to make wine. I was so excited about this wine that I forgot to take a picture.
Empanadas followed, if you live in Brighton, stop what you’re doing and go get some… NOW!
Then we had a very traditional Malbec in the pure style of a Bordeaux. A bit boring to my taste but with the potential to age incredibly well and be opened in 12 years.
Then we had another 2013 Malbec to compare, this one is a beautiful beast of a wine!
Last was an incredibly sweet and heavy late harvest Malbec.
Malbec not only has the power and intensity on it’s grape, it has the power to create all sorts of different wines. Like a complete fighter has the ability to adapt to any style of fighting; from the most subtle and elegant to the most flamboyant and unorthodox..
Head to Cafe Malbec on 34 Church Road and dare to ask for suggestions from Damian and his team. They all are very well educated in the wines they stock.