Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Wine Review: Bodega Luigi Bosca, “Reserva” Single Vineyard Malbec, Luján de Cuyo DOC (2008)

Originally from Navarra in Northern Spain, in 1901 the Arizu family purchased their first vineyards in Mendoza Argentina, thereby starting a family heritage which has endured to the present day. 4 generations later the Arizu family are still making wines which respect both their pioneering heritage and the future of Argentine wine.

One of the very first wineries in Argentina to invest in steam powered ploughing machinery and highly trained operatives from England, Bodega Luigi Bosca and the Arizu clan have always had the utmost dedication to quality. This is why it seems particularly fitting that Bodega Luigi Bosca and the Arizus were amongst the most vocal proponents for the formation of Argentina’s (and South America’s) first DOC (Controlled Denomination of Origin) area for wine production.

Located within Mendoza, the Luján de Cuyo DOC area sits around Bodega Luigi Bosca’s holdings with farming and production techniques controlled so that all wines labelled as originating from within the Luján de Cuyo DOC meet the highest quality standards. Formed in 1989, the Luján de Cuyo DOC sees some of Argentina’s greatest wines grown within it and this Luigi Bosca “Reserva” Single Vineyard Malbec is Bodega Luigi Bosca’s celebration of the zone’s formation and the Arizu family’s participation in its formation.

Unusually this Luigi Bosca “Reserva” Single Vineyard Malbec is a single vineyard wine (most Argentinean and Mendozan Malbecs are formed of blends of grapes grown across several vineyard sites) and is produced from 70 year old vines. The single vineyard in question is Luigi Bosca’s “La Linda” vineyard that sits 960 metres above sea level. Yields (the number of berries per vine) in this high altitude vineyard are remarkably low (which should concentrate the juices) and this, along with the thickening of the grapes skins that is seen at high altitude ought to generate a Malbec wine that is fantastically concentrated and intense.

For those of you who are not Spanish language scholars, “Arizu” translates as “oak grove” and so perhaps it should come as no surprise that this Luigi Bosca “Reserva” Single Vineyard Luján de Cuyo DOC Malbec has been aged in French oak for 14 months, with a further 1 year in bottle prior to release.

The bottle of this Bodega Luigi Bosca wine is incredible! Very heavy with a sizeable punt (dent in the bottle of the bottle), a bottle lip which is over half an inch thick, also featuring heavyweight foil and a natural cork of exceptional quality with Bodega Luigi Bosca/Arizu stencilling – this wine exudes class and quality.

In the glass, this Bodega Luigi Bosca Luján de Cuyo DOC Malbec is a deep and constant rich cherry colour. Particularly dark and intense in the centre of the glass, this is continued right across to the rim with no real fading despite the wine’s time in oak and bottle prior to release. No trademark Malbec vivid violet is present, perhaps a consequence of this Luján de Cuyo DOC Malbec’s high altitude growth which tends to produce Malbecs more dark and brooding than otherwise possible.

On the nose, peppery and mysterious smoke overlays dark forest fruits. Toasted oak and vanilla are the most prominent aromas in this Luigi Bosca Luján de Cuyo DOC Malbec, although some sweeter fruit notes do also manage to squeeze their way into the bouquet with plums and damsons the landscape above which the smoky oak drifts. Not particularly open, the nose is reminiscent of some Cahors with the spice appearing a little acerbic given a lack of overt fruit.

In the mouth, this Luigi Bosca Luján de Cuyo DOC Malbec is smooth and rich, heavily seasoned and spiced. Sour cherry and a little sweeter plum lasts a long time with the acerbic spice bubbling all around. Dark chocolate closes the palate. Given the price, there is a disappointing level of depth in the fruit although a good length of flavour. The nose has an acceptable (if not excellent) level of complexity, but the palate is lacking. There is a little grip from the tannins which suggests aging potential but which does not detract from the wine currently. Open 4 hours at the time of tasting (unacceptably closed and acidic on opening) the wine still feels as though it needs to open and offer more. Yet even 6 and 8 hours after opening, this Luigi Bosca Luján de Cuyo DOC Malbec had nothing more to offer.

In all, a disappointing experience for a wine of this price and provenance. Don’t get me wrong, this Luigi Bosca Luján de Cuyo DOC Malbec is still a Malbec that is above average, but when you purchase a wine from the Luján de Cuyo DOC you may be forgiven for expecting the highest quality as this is the raison d’être for this DOC region’s existence. Equally when you can match the quality of this Luigi Bosca wine with a supermarket offering at half the price (see the list of previously reviewed Malbec below) you can be forgiven for feeling that disappointment even more.

Bodega Luigi Bosca, Single Vineyard Malbec, Luján de Cuyo DOC (2008)

Score: 84/100 – Shows glimmers of dark and brooding excellence, ultimately fails to deliver fully

Value for money: 4/10 – Expensive (at £16 per bottle) for its score. You expect more at this price.

Other Malbec Reviewed to Date:
Bodega Catena Zapata “Catena” Malbec
Viña Cobos “Felino” Malbec
Michel Torino “Don David” Malbec Reserve
Neethlingshof Estate Malbec
Bodega Luigi Bosca, Single Vineyard Malbec, Luján de Cuyo DOC
Nieto Senetiner Reserva Malbec
Fabre Montmayou Domaine Vistalba “Viñalta” Malbec