A Tale of 3 Malbecs
What is a Caiquén? It’s a wild good from Patagonia that flies across The Andes between Argentina and Chile. When they fly border to border they take up a major challenge. This is just what Aurelio Montes, founder of Bodega Montes in Chile did, flying across, border to border until he found Mendoza. He felt Mendoza was the place that he could make great wine in Argentina and so the beginning of Kaiken Wines 16 years ago.
Kaiken Malbec is produced in three categories, Mai, Ultra and Terroir Series. Similar to the motor oil in your car, each category is different, in aroma, color and taste. The characteristics that make their wines different is the terroir in which the grapes are grown. The soil and altitude contribute to what’s in the glass. You will see higher ripeness the higher the altitude the grapes are grown. Within each of the categories of wine winemaker Rogelio Rabino wants to express different attributes of the grapes. The Malbec Terroir Series express the variety with respect to the overall terroir. The Ultra express the strenth of the Uco Valley and the Mai means “First” in the Pehuenches language of the indigenous community that inhabited the Mendoza area and Mia is their first icon wine. Oak is used in the wines and the barrels are used up to 4 times depending on the complexity Rogelio is looking for. If the wine is blended, it is done so after each varietal ages in their own oak barrels.
2015 Kaiken Terroir Series Malbec is a blend of 80% Malbec, 15% Bonarda and 5% Petit Verdot. Bonarda is Argentina’s second widely planted grape and the first time I actually heard of the grape. Each of the varieties are grown at high altitudes ranging from 950 to 1,400 meters above sea level. The Terroir Series expresses each variety with respect to the terroir. With Malbec as the base of the wine, the Bonarda lends the fresh fruit finish and the Petiti Verdot adds the structure. This is a pretty complex wine. The layers black fruit, cassis, cocoa and voilets in the glass lead to a complex silky palate of cocoa, black cherry, boysenberry and allspice. SRP $16.99
2015 Kaiken Ultra Malbec is 100% Malbec is aged in 1/3 new berrels and 2/3 second and third use barrels for 12months . The goal here is to highlight the fruity character of the wine. The Ultra expresses the strength of the Uco Valley in minerality, floral and spicyness that shows in the wine. This comes from the soil and weather in the region. You’ll find the spicyness and floral undertones in the aroma of the wine along with the blue and black fruit. Soft tannin with red and black fruit and hints of dry herbs and chocolate on the finish. SRP $24.99
2013 Kaiken Mai is 100% Malbec from the Vistalba region of Mendoza and grown with low-trellis system. The Vistalba region has some of the oldest vineyards in the region and is regarded to have the best terroirs in Argentina. The vineyard is more than 125 years old and produces grapes with naturally low yields and extraordinary concentration. The wine is aged in new French oak barrels for 18 months. Rich aromas are expressed with black current, plum, cedar, and vanilla, leading to a complex wine of red and black fruit, cassis, bittersweet chocolate and soft tannins. This wine does have aging potential. SRP $75
I did pair this wine with beef stew. The Mai and Terroir Series went very well with it. The Ultra Malbec was just okay.