Friday, 20 April 2012

Michel Torino “Don David” Malbec “Reserve” (2010)

Michel Torino’s “Don David” Malbec “Reserve” became one of the Independent Wine Review’s favourite Argentinean Malbecs when the 2009 vintage of this Michel Torino “Don David” Malbec “Reserve” was reviewed in July last year. That the 2009 Michel Torino “Don David” Malbec “Reserve” scored 86 points was testament to its concentrated fruit and balance as well as its impressive smoothness. Sampled on several occasions since that initial tasting, we have continued to be impressed by the consistency of the 2009 Michel Torino “Don David” Malbec “Reserve” across bottles from different batches and with increasing bottle age. With the new 2010 vintage of this Michel Torino “Don David” Malbec “Reserve” released recently at UK trade tastings and slowly becoming available through independent merchants and restaurants, now is the time to review the 2010 vintage of this Michel Torino “Don David” Malbec “Reserve”

Founded in 1892, by brothers David and Salvador Michel (hence “Michel” Torino), Michel Torino has grown to become one of the larger wine producing operations in Argentina. With access to more than 700 hectares of vines across the province of Salta in Northern Argentina (significantly further north than the hub of Argentine winemaking that is Mendoza) Michel Torino now produces a range of 27 different wines. Biased towards signature Argentinean grapes such as Malbec and Torrontes, Michel Torino also produce with “international” varieties such as Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon too. Sitting towards the top end of this varied range, is this 2010 Michel Torino “Don David” Malbec “Reserve”.

Named after founding brother Michel David, this 2010 Michel Torino “Don David” Malbec “Reserve” contains what is described by Michel Torino as “the best grape selection” from across the estates worked by the winery. With concentration of flavour the stated aim of this 2010 Michel Torino “Don David” Malbec “Reserve”, “yields” (the number of grapes that appear per vine in the vineyard) are kept low in the vineyards to maximise the flavour of every grape and a specific winemaking philosophy is applied.

After being picked by hand and grape selection (the “lesser” grapes make their way into Michel Torino’s still excellent “Colección” Malbec) the grapes destined for this 2010 Michel Torino “Don David” Malbec “Reserve” were pressed and left with the skins (in order to extract the full extent of possible colour and flavour from them) for an extended period and fermentation allowed to occur. Following fermentation 70% of this 2010 Michel Torino “Don David” Malbec “Reserve” was then passed into a mixture of new French (60%) and American (40%) oak for maturation. 12 months on, the proportion of this 2010 Michel Torino “Don David” Malbec “Reserve” that had been matured in oak was blended back in with the 30% of this 2010 Michel Torino “Don David” Malbec “Reserve” that had not seen oak, prior to settling and bottling.

The bottle of this 2010 Michel Torino “Don David” Malbec “Reserve” is one of the tallest (even amongst the Argentinean Malbecs that have been sampled recently) of those reviewed this year by the Independent Wine Review. Some would consider this a little ostentatious, however virtually all Argentinean producers seem to be engaging in some kind of arms race at the moment to see who can sell their wine in the tallest and heaviest bottles. The label of this 2010 Michel Torino “Don David” Malbec “Reserve” is elegant and of a split design. The fact that the grapes that produce this 2010 Michel Torino “Don David” Malbec “Reserve” are harvested from vineyards at more than 1700 metres above sea level is clearly picked out on the front of the bottle.

In the glass this 2010 Michel Torino “Don David” Malbec “Reserve” is a clear (i.e. non faulty) and very intense ruby colour. Whilst with many wines that have seen a year maturing in oak, we might expect to see a degree of rusticity towards the rim of this 2010 Michel Torino “Don David” Malbec “Reserve” in the glass, here the wine is a intense and vibrant ruby colour at the rim. This is likely a product of the 30% of this 2010 Michel Torino “Don David” Malbec “Reserve” that saw maturation in steel, rather than in oak. When swirled the legs of this 2010 Michel Torino “Don David” Malbec “Reserve” are prominent. The quoted alcoholic content of this 2010 Michel Torino “Don David” Malbec “Reserve” is 14% abv.

On the nose, this 2010 Michel Torino “Don David” Malbec “Reserve” is clean (i.e. non faulty) and pronounced in nature. Concentrated dark fruit forms the bulk of the aromas of this 2010 Michel Torino “Don David” Malbec “Reserve” with spice and a touch of toasty nuance from the oak also showing though.

Once in the mouth, this 2010 Michel Torino “Don David” Malbec “Reserve” is dry and full-bodied in style. Utterly mouth-filling, the basis of this 2010 Michel Torino “Don David” Malbec “Reserve” is again ripe, dark fruit in the form of blackberries and dark cherry, with a layer of reticent spice and a hint of sweet vanilla and toasted oak notes also making an appearance. There is a significant tannin structure to this 2010 Michel Torino “Don David” Malbec “Reserve”, but it is well integrated and a high level of acidity provides a sense of drive to the palate and prevents the concentrated fruit from becoming cloying.

Overall, this 2010 Michel Torino “Don David” Malbec “Reserve” is a very good example of Argentinean Malbec. Coming from further north than much Argentinean Malbec (and from a notably high altitude) this 2010 Michel Torino “Don David” Malbec “Reserve” has really captured the brooding intensityand concentration of fruit that Malbec can offer at its best. For the absolute perfectionists out there, perhaps this 2010 Michel Torino “Don David” Malbec “Reserve” does not have quite the level of nuance and complexity of the very greatest Argentinean Malbec, however one could argue that Michel Torino reserve their ultimate expression of Malbec for their range topping “Altimus” Malbec.

Looking at the price of this 2010 Michel Torino “Don David” Malbec “Reserve”, it seems that whilst there are Malbecs out there that carry lower prices (Malbec can be found at £5/6 per bottle in UK), there are no cheaper wines that are better than this 2010 Michel Torino “Don David” Malbec “Reserve” (and in fact several more expensive wines that are worse)! In this respect, this 2010 Michel Torino “Don David” Malbec “Reserve” should be considered great value.

A little care must be taken in pairing this 2010 Michel Torino “Don David” Malbec “Reserve” (it will overwhelm subtly flavoured and dishes) but the best pairing is probably a weighty slab of beef steak. That said, this 2010 Michel Torino “Don David” Malbec “Reserve” will also prove itself a match for braised meats, stews and even spicier food too.

Found in restaurants at under £30, this Michel Torino “Don David” Malbec “Reserve” is one of the more popular wines in some of London’s top Argentinean restaurants and it is certainly possible to see why.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Michel Torino “Don David” Malbec “Reserve" (2010)

Score: 88/100 – Smooth, rich and very, very deep

Value for Money: 9/10 – Rarely will you find as much bang for your buck! With this Michel Torino "Don David" Malbec "Reserve" £9.50 buys you a very accomplished wine.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------