Malbec from the Mountains: Bodegas Gouguenheim

mendozaI love finding a great wine at a great price, especially when it’s unknown, or a previously-undiscovered gem.

While I didn’t know this wine, I know the region it hails from. I’m not bashful about saying that Mendoza, Argentina is virtually heaven on earth for wine grapes. The vineyards lie within shouting distance of the towering Andes Mountains, which block the rain moving across the continent from the West, and create a desert climate on the leeward side. Mendoza is blessed with abundant sunshine — 320 days a year! — and can be irrigated with snow melt from the Andes.

As if that weren’t perfect enough, the high elevation of the vineyards creates a large Diurnal Temperature Shift, which is wine-geek talk for “a big difference between daytime and nighttime temperatures,” like 35 degrees F. This is a good thing for wine grapes, because while the heat of the day ripens the fruit, the cool-down at night allows tannin and acid to develop. And with Mendoza’s long growing season, grapes ripen fully and develop good complexity.

Now wouldn’t you think this was heaven if you were a wine grape?

So let’s get to the wine and winery. Bodegas Gouguenheim Malbec 2010 comes from the marvelous-sounding Valle Escondido — Hidden Valley. The vineyards sit at over 3000 feet, and I’m sure I can smell and taste it. The nose has plenty of ripe fruit, with plum and black currant mixing with some floral aromatics.

The palate was really a knock-out: I didn’t expect the intensity of the fruit, the rich mouthfeel, or the bright black raspberry flavor that transitioned to chocolate and vanilla. There was depth and structure, too, making this Malbec linger nicely .

Like I say, I thought it was a knock-out, especially for $10 a bottle. That’s really amazing value, and one of the reasons I do a lot of shopping in the “Argentina” section of my wine store. We’re seeing more and more Malbecs in this country, and some of the cheaper ones (i.e. under $10) can be harsh or thin. Gouguenheim represents truly great value. Cheers!


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