Maybe “smashing” is too strong a word, but when I sat down with Aurelio Montes Jr., winemaker for Argentina’s Kaiken Winery, he did want to make a point regarding Cabernet Sauvignon.
To defy the preconception that Argentine Cabernet tends to age in a manner akin to falling off a cliff (cue Aurelio making a dramatic swoop of his hand to demonstrate the concept) to its death, he brought along a bottle of the 2007 Kaiken “Ultra” Cabernet Sauvignon for me to taste. It’s the kind of wine at a very interesting and exciting point. Just enough bottle age to start waking from its youthful slumber but still in all possession of fruit-forward charm and freshness.
Aurelio and I talked about the ubiquitousness of Malbec in Argentina and he shared with me the three “battles” he’s fighting to get people to know and appreciate a diversity of red wine grapes. He’s got his gloves on for Bonarda, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot. (Stay tuned.) Discussing the latter grape, which you’ll find in his 2011 Malbec-based “Terroir Series” blend that also includes Bonarda, he called it “the rugby player”. Which I think is the most awesome description of Petit Verdot, ever.
But since we don’t live by red wine alone, I also got the chance to try the 2013 Kaiken Torrontes. It’s a very floral, aromatic grape that can become soapy and perfume-y when it gets too ripe. Gross. Not that I have anything against the finest of hand-milled soaps or the most sublime of fragrances, I just don’t want them in my wine. The secret to Aurelio’s zesty version? He picks the grapes early so the wine isn’t heavy or flabby.
One final thing I learned has to do with food. The 2011 Kaiken “Ultra” Malbec was a really nice match with some chicken liver pâté dabbed onto toast and topped with a touch of mostarda. (The interview took place at Seattle’s Sazerac Restaurant, BTW.) Actually, all the red wines went well with it. The rich and creamy spread was a nice compliment to wines that displayed both power and drinkability.
So the moral of the story? Argentina: MORE THAN MALBEC.
(But the Malbec can be really good.)
Aurelio explains how Feng Shui keeps his wines happy over on Vindulge.