Thursday, March 14, 2013

Holy Smoke

Holy Smoke!

I know the phrase is kinda reserved for the announcement of the new Pope, but it's completely apropos to my realization of just how far behind I am on my posts. No doubt there are those who would berate me for thinking aloud that the Catholic church is behind in its thinking and its integration into 21st Century life, but right now, I'm thinking that, just like the new Pope, I've got me some serious catching up to do in terms of being current as well.

Being behind the times may be about the only thing the Catholic church and I have in common though. So, let's see what I can do about moving on.

1269.  2006 Altos Las Hormigas - Vineyard Selection Reserva Malbec (Mendoza - Argentina)

Seeing as how the new Pope Francis originally hails from Argentina, I think an Argentine Malbec is entirely befitting of the occasion. I have an inkling, however, that this Alberto Antonini-inspired wine from Mendoza might be a tad tastier than your standard communion wine. Not that I'd have the slightest idea as to the tastiness of communion wines.

I've heard Antonini say that he doesn't like being called a "flying winemaker" but the gent certainly does get around. Having learned much of his trade with two of Italy's best known wineries - Antinori and Frescobaldi - he has since traveled the world to consult or work as winemaker for concerns in the US, Canada, Australia, Argentina and Chile.

By 1995, Antonini had been plying his trade in Italy long enough and he longed to  discover more of the world. He started looking for investment opportunities and, at the time, Argentina presented itself as an exotic locale with huge potential and, together with Antonio Morescalchi, he located the current Altos Las Hormigas home vineyard - 216 acres in the Luján de Cuyo region in Mendoza. The two native Italians took on some additional business partners and ALH was born.

From the beginning, Antonini recognized Malbec as "The Grape" for Mendoza. That wasn't the case back in '95 though. Mendoza was still largely undeveloped. Although there was plenty of wine being made, that wine was consumed mostly in the domestic market and no one really saw Malbec as a premium grape. Chardonnay, Cab and Merlot were the grapes of choice and Antonini claims that Altos Las Hormigas was the first winery to focus 100% on Malbec in the region.

The Reserva is definitely more refined than the more commercial Argentine Malbecs you generally find in the Vancouver market. There is still a nice underlying layer of dark fruit to this wine but there is also a level of acidity and gentle tannic structure that takes the wine to a better place.

Definitely more heaven than hell.

Somewhat on that last note, something tells me though that Francis isn't going to like me (and my gay peeps) any more than the last Popes have. So, if I'm truly earmarked for hell, I at least hope they're serving this Malbec down there. I'll have to see if Pope Francis can look into it for me.

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