Wine Reviews Tasting Notes and Education for the Non-Snob, by Vino Joe, a Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW)

Malbec Review: El Portillo

Bodegas Salentein El Portillo Malbec Estate Bottled 2005

Bodegas Salentein Finca El Portillo Malbec wine bottleThe winery is Bodegas Salentein, but you’ll have a hard time finding that on the label. It’s more easily recognized as “El Portillo” (or technically, “Finca El Portillo”), which is the name of the vineyard estate from which the grapes are grown. The vines are located more than a half-mile above sea level (3280 feet, to be exact), in the Valle de Uco (or, Uco Valley) area of Tunuyan — a municipality inside the Mendoza region. Personally, I don’t know enough about the sub-regions of Mendoza to know whether that’s important — but it does give you interesting dinner conversation.

The Tasting Notes

Nose is almost rustic, with good earthy character, ripe black fruits, and black pepper. On the palate you get muted blackberry, black raspberry, black pepper, earth. Acidity and tannins are both appropriately medium intensity, providing good backbone. Can a wine be clean and dirty? Yes it can, as this wine proves. It has that “dirty” earth character yet is well-made, well-balanced, and the fruit comes through cleanly. The finish is more old world, mostly earth, black pepper, and some black fruit. It reminds me more of Cot and traditional Argentine Malbec than the over-saturated, jammy Malbecs that have been flooding the market recently — which to me is a breath of fresh air. Not everything has to taste like Australian Shiraz or over-the-top California Zin.

I purchased this wine for the express purpose of matching with Argentine-grilled skirt steak, and it was a perfect pairing. I’d also suggest this wine with hard cheeses, cheesey dishes, other cuts of beef (grilled), roasts, and rich-flavored grilled veggies.

a-8 t-8 b-8 fc-8 v-7 ~ 89 Points

Importer: San Francisco Wine Exchange

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