Dan Sims and Ben Edwards both had backgrounds as sommeliers and were omnipresent and popular men about Melbourne before they established their business as educators and consultants to the hospitality industry under their Wine Guide name. Having many years experience with assessing, communicating about and selling wine, they made the bold decision to ‘put their money where their mouth is’ by making their own booze. They decided to make a couple of wines from the malbec variety in its (now) home of Mendoza in Argentina. The fruit came from the Uco Valley in the southern parts of the region, and here are my notes on the first releases.
Malbec Rosé 2012
Nice subtle nose, a touch of savoury spice, lots of raspberry. Juicy full on the palate, lovely and fresh, generous ripe red fruits, nice balance.
Juicy rich dark sweet fruits but nice and dry with just a hint of savoury. Just enough warmth and earthiness.
B Crux Sauvignon Blanc 2010
Floral grassy kiwi and apple, grapefruit and passionfruit. Lovely and light freshness, crisp fruit acid, straightforward and clean, a touch of length and texture.
B Crux Blend 2007
Bright and fresh for its age, full intense yet not heavy, concentrated red fruits, has a Spanish flair to it, great balance and texture.
Alpha Crux 2003
Fruit retention, black olives and capers, benefiting from age. Lovely softness and length, structure and acids, savoury.
Alpha Crux Malbec 2008
Interesting earthy menthol notes, good but not great, soft full round and broad, nothing really special about it.
O. Fournier Mendoza wines
Extremely dense in colour. Stewed plums, dried fig, very extractive and heavy, cooked character, tomato sauce, meaty texture, smoky sausage.
Bordeaux nose but much riper and more reductive, slightly brighter floral cassis, better integration and balance. Still very tight and tannic, heavy and very ballsy.
Finca Altamira Malbec 2009 (Uco Valley)
SLightly brighter fresher fruit, intensity of fruit but more elegant softer tannins, still very extractive though.
Finca Mirador malbec 2009
Darker more brooding subtle fruit, broader more developed and soft sweet tannins. Almost has a distilled character, balsamic reduction.
In case you weren’t already aware, the Mendoza wine region is large in area and volume. Covering an area about the size of the entire Murray Darling Basin, and producing more wine than Australia and New Zealand combined, there are a lot of vineyards. There are also over 1,200 wineries, equivalent to all of Australia, and a range of different viticultural areas. The main difference between these areas is elevation, ranging from 800m to 1500m above sea level. The Uco Valley, 1.5 hours South of Mendoza city, is one of the more elevated and newer viticultural areas in Mendoza, and it was here I visited the only winery of the day. The reasons were two-fold. Firstly I didn’t realise how far away the winery was, and secondly because it was difficult to find and I took several wrongs turns. Worth the drive though, even in the blistering heat with virtually no air conditioning. It was also amazing how the Andes are so clear in the morning and you can see the snow-capped peaks, yet by the afternoon the clouds and fog has set in and they are almost invisible.