Friday, April 11, 2014

Six Vintages of Trivento's "Eolo" Malbec

Victoria Prandina. Credit: Trivento.
“Winemaking is an art not limited by age or gender,” says Victoria Prandina. As a young woman charged with crafting an old vine, single-vineyard Malbec, she proves this maxim.

I recently had the pleasure of meeting with Prandina, who makes Trivento’s “Eolo” Malbec in Argentina’s Mendoza region. She’s a dynamic person and winemaker, and her Malbecs are as structured and deep as they are refined and elegant.

We talked a lot about the vineyard, which sits at 3,200 feet, perched just 30 feet above the Mendoza River in the Lujan de Cuyo appellation. The 49-acre vineyard was planted to Malbec in 1912, but just 9 acres of prime plots are used for the Eolo bottling.

The wine is aged for 18 months in French oak barrels, around 70% of which are new. The oak helps integrate the tannins and smooth the wine out, but I was pleased at the lack of overt or heavy-handed flavor elements from the oak.

Trivento is owned by Chilean powerhouse Concha y Toro, and Eolo generally retails for around $70. 2005 was the inaugural vintage of Eolo, and 2010 is the current release, so this vertical captured them all. I have to say, I was impressed with these wines. All of them were compelling, evolving and worthy of contemplation.

I met Prandina and her colleague, marketing manager Silvina Barros, at Ripple in DC’s Cleveland Park, one of my favorite spots for any wine dinner. Here are my notes from the comparative tasting.

The ripe black and red fruit aromas blend well with notes of smoke, flowers, tea and a Bordeaux-like note of wet leaves. On the palate, firm tannins provide grip, medium acid keeps it in check. Dark and spicy, with jammy red fruit, lots of bay leaf and pepper. This wine opened up a lot over the course of the two-hour dinner, and I think it could easily be laid down for another three or four years. A beautifully aged Malbec, includes 10% Syrah. The inaugural vintage of Eolo, and it showed very well. (90 points)

Bright and floral on the nose, with fresh red and dark plums, secondary notes of loam, potpourri and spice. The palate shows a lot of purity and elegance, but solid structure as well. The plum and dark cherry fruit mixes with earth and floral tones, more meaty-beef jerky accents than the other vintages. Pure and opulent, it opened up wonderfully with time and showed all sorts of tobacco and pepper nuances. Great structure and depth, but pure silk at the same time. Includes 2% Syrah. (92 points)

Aromas of rich, jammy plums, some roses and fig cookies. Red and black fruit glide across the palate but the tannins show like a clenched fist. More intense than the 2006, but still fresh and floral, some underlying smoke, meat and iron notes beginning to peek out. I’d like to put this sideways for a few more years. 100% Malbec. (90 points)

Deep and rich on the nose, with blackberries and currants, flowers and a bay leaf and white pepper note. Grippy yet fresh on the palate, firm yet focused. Loaded with juicy berries, mixed in with baking spices, earth and floral undertones. Not as deep and complex as some of the other vintages, but it’s still very well-made and complex. I think this needs more time to open up and show its best. Includes 5% Cabernet Sauvignon and 2% Petite Verdot. (89 points)

Deep and inviting aromas of with plums, violets, potpourri, notes of vanilla and crushed rocks. On the palate this is pure and elegant yet firm, with fresh acid and silky-sweet tannins. The plum and fig paste flavors are rich and opulent, backed up by cola, iron, loam and pencil lead. So clean and complex, with incredible balance and a long finish. 100% Malbec. Wow. For me, it just beat out the 2006 in terms of depth and elegance. (93 points)

Lots of floral aromas mix in with the plum and cherry jam, also some notes of loam, graphite and vanilla. Fresh and plush on the palate with a silky texture. Plummy, cherry-driven, jammy, with all sorts of loam and spice and vanilla. Pencil lead and iron notes carry the finish. Beautiful stuff, this current release is definitely a candidate for the cellar. Five to eight years would be a good move. 100% Malbec. (91 points)

This post first appeared on the daily wine blog Terroirist.

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