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What our expert thought of Te Awa, Left Field, Malbec




the tasting

The Tasting


An intensely deep, glass-staining purple-red, this wine is almost opaque. That intensity, and the vivid purple colour (if you hold the glass at an angle you can see a magenta rim) are characteristic of Malbec.
 
There’s a rich nose of ripe black fruit - blackberries and damson jam - with pungent spicy notes of liquorice and clove, and a dusting of cocoa powder.
 
The palate is fully dry, with very juicy flavours of blackberry and black cherry, backed by bittersweet dark chocolate and a hint of mint. It tastes very fresh even though the acidity isn’t more than medium. Structure is provided by tannins rather than acidity, and there’s lots of them, but they’re wonderfully soft and ripe.
 
The medium finish is spicy, with liquorice and pepper, and just enough acidity to balance the tannins.


Assessment


The importer’s website says this wine has spent 18 months in French oak barrels, while other sources say it’s unoaked. I’m with the latter camp; I can't detect any oak on this and I think it’s all the better for it - the flavours of the grape really shine through. I reckon the website claim is a mistake; if this has seen any oak then it wasn’t much, and the barrels must have been big old ones used many times before.
 
This is a great example of the qualities of the Malbec grape. It’s a bit fresher and cooler-climate than most Argentinian Malbecs, where low acidity can be a problem. Yet there’s no lack of ripeness and I love its up-front fruit intensity. Textbook, definitive stuff - although as the only NZ Malbec in existence I suppose it has to be!



Tasting notes

Appearance
clear very deep purple-red - almost opaque - with typical Malbec magenta rim
Nose

Intensity medium

Aromas ripe black fruit(blackberry, damson jam), pungent spice(liquorice, clove), cocoa

Development developing
Palate

Sweetness fully dry

Acidity medium

Body medium+

Tannins medium+, but soft and ripe

Intensity medium+

Flavours black fruits(blackberry, black cherry), bittersweet dark chocolate, mint
Finish

Length medium

Flavours spicy(liquorice & pepper), fine acid/tannin balance
Other notes
Unoaked, as far as I can tell.


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