DWWA 2013 International Trophies: Red Blend Under £15
Viñalba, Reservado Malbec- Cabernet Franc, Mendoza, Argentina 2012 (14.5%)
Succulent black-cherry and damson nose, perfumed with liquorice and spices. Broad, plump and juicy palate showing masses of dark, brambly, forest-floor fruit. Peppery and smooth.
UK £10.99; BkS
Tasted against • Castello d’Alba, Grande Reserva Vinhas Velhas, Douro, Portugal 2011 • Tagus Creek, Shiraz-Trincadeira, Alentejano, Portugal 2012 • Château la Jeannette, Baguier, Côtes de Provence, France 2011 • Idaia Winery, Ocean Mandilaria-Syrah, Crete, Greece 2008
Viñalba’s reds have enjoyed an illustrious career at the DWWA. This is its fourth International Trophy since 2008 and it also won a Regional Trophy last year. Not only that; this is the third different International Trophy category the producer has triumphed in, having previously picked up the top prize in Red Bordeaux Varietals and Red Single Varietals as well as another Red Blend Trophy in 2010 with a Malbec-Syrah. Such consistent success across a diversity of styles shows the true talent of this estate.
Domaine Vistalba began producing wine in 1993, thanks to the drive of Hervé Joyaux Fabre, a Frenchman from Bordeaux who saw a potential in Mendoza and Malbec that not many others could see at that time.
Viñalba (made mostly for restaurants) is primarily based on high-altitude vineyards in the Uco Valley. Reservado is a blend of 80% Malbec and 20% Cabernet Franc, mostly from Gualtallary, which, at 1,500 metres above sea level, is the highest zone in Mendoza. It is here that the fruit flavours seem to shine with the fresh influence of the Andes, which imprints on this wine a tense acidity and fruitiness that amazed us.
Some 80% of the wine was aged in first- and second-use barrels, which lend a light touch of toast without interfering with the essential fruit – the heart and soul of this wine’s high-altitude flavours. The price-quality ratio here is second to none.