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text and photographs © 2008 Tom Cannavan

These notes accompany our in-depth feature on Argentina.

There is fantastic potential here. As the vineyards are brought into better and better balance, the progression in quality through the first three vintages is absolutely obvious. Stockists of Mendel wines include Jeroboams, The Wine Society and Playford Ros.

the wines

Mendel Malbec 2006
Bottle for one month. Seductive nose of creamy, very ripe blackberry and plum fruit, with a sheen of Cedary, quite exotic spice and a touch of dark, chocolaty violet. The palate has a beautiful delineation of that pure, intense, compact and powerful fruit, with a wrapping of liquorice and plumskin, such elegant plummy tannins and really taut cherry skin acidity. Fantastic length and focus. 93/100. Around £12.00.

Mendel Malbec 2005
20% of this vintage did not see oak, rest a split of new and second fill. Has a beautifully lifted, cherry and floral note before that blue/black intensity and concentration of fruit and just a touch of briar and spice. Silky, pure, flooded with black fruit and pastille quality. The palate falls away slightly, the tannin and acidity becoming slightly pronounced in the finish, but that lovely purity is there. 90/100

Mendel Malbec 2004
45% tank, 55% new barrel (had no old oak). Slightly more briary and earthy, without quite the fruit svelteness. The palate has a chewy but ripe, black cherry fruit concentration. Very powerful with a thick, liquoricy stripe of tannin and extract. Very powerful, but just lacks the finessing elegance of the 2006, but excellent. 90/100

Mendel Unus 2006
70% Malbec, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon. Always with 100% new Taransud oak. Lovely deep, muscular black fruit with a huge concentration of plummy black fruit and intense Sandalwood spice. A background of coffee. The nose is concentrated and really sumptuous, with a flood of fudge and chocolate-edged black fruit. The tannins are very tight and pure, with a plum skin, bittersweet grip. Very fine balance and succulent but crisp character, the spice and smokiness of the oak adding warmth and depth. 94/100

Mendel Unus 2005
65% Malbec, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon. Toasty and deep, with a very pure cassis note. A touch gamy and earthy. The palate has huge concentration without over extraction, giving a ripe, pure, cassis and black cherry. Very liquoricy but tight and svelte tannins and acids, and a lovely mouthfilling wine that also has freshness and a tangy bite. Very good. 92/100

Mendel Unus 2004
70% Malbec, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon. Slightly more baked quality to the fruit, and not quite the generous, open ripeness and purity of fruit. The palate seems less complex and less deep than the 2005 and 2006 certainly. Tannins also seem a little drier. This is still a really good wine, with length and concentration, and a fine balance. 91/100

Mendel "Super" Malbec 2006
New ultra top end wine, as yet un-named. This is final blend, but a pre-bottling sample. Aged in new Taransud for one year, and then one-third each 200% new oak, second fill and tank for 5 months. Very tight, very floral-edged, with intense kirsch-like aromas supported by mocha and intense spice. The palate is super-concentrated, with fantastic intensity and chocolaty depth. 95/100

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