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As one would expect, the 2005 Vistalba Corte C wears a rich, regal robe. Deep purple in color, opaque, and nearly black in its impenetrable center, it would be easy to surmise, at least at first glance, that Vistalba's Corte C was just another forceful, teeth staining Malbec. That is, until one takes the first sniff. Sensual aromas of red and black berries, cedar, cassis, and eucalyptus rise from the glass to cheerfully greet the nose. And upon first sip, the 2005 Vistalba Corte C becomes even more remarkable. It embodies the comely flavor and finesse of a first-rate Bordeaux. It caresses the palate and fills the senses, ending with an exemplarily long finish that displays plenty of ripe, sweet tannins. In short, the Corte C is no ordinary Malbec. We suggest serving the Vistalba Corte C at cool room temperature (no more than 66° F), after an hour of aeration.
Beef is the national dish of Argentina, as anyone who has ever visited Argentina will attest. And what better accompaniment is there to the national dish than Vistalba's Corte C? Given the gracious flavor profile of the Vistalba Corte C, we suggest that it be served with a serious steak. Some of our favorite cuts of beef with this rich, but polished, Malbec are porterhouse and sirloin steaks. And to further complement the polished, flamboyant side of the wine, a side dish with that steak of sautéed Cremini, Portabella, or Shitake mushrooms, prepared in a red wine reduction with shallots and a dash of rosemary and spicy mustard, constitutes a heavenly feast. However, lest you think the Corte C is a one-dimensional wine, we can heartily recommend it with tried-and-true alternatives to "Beef Almighty." Lusty pasta dishes with heavy red pasta sauces, three-mushroom pizzas, and grilled ostrich provide other splendid parings with Vistalba's lovely Malbec. And let's not forget lamb or even the best burger money can buy. They, too, offer splendid complements to Carlos Pulenta's viticultural art. Enjoy!
Vistalba is the family estate of Carlos Pulenta and his family. It is located in the center of Vistalba in the Luján de Cuyó region of Mendoza, Argentina. Here the Cordon del Plata and the towering range of snow-capped Andes that define the Mendoza loom over the Vistalba winery and the estate's vineyards, which spread up the foothills in search of the cold, living waters of snow melt that allow the Mendoza to bloom. Vistalba is the finest area in all Mendoza for Malbec, and Pulenta and his family exploit their enviable location and exceptional terroir to the fullest.
Begun in 1948, the Vistalba estate is comprised of many old vines. In total the estate counts 58 hectares (nearly 128 acres) under vine, most of which are devoted not surprisingly to Malbec — the backbone of Carlos Pulenta's fine range of wines and the mainstay of Mendoza viticulture. However, Malbec is hardly the only red varietal grown at Vistalba or, for that matter, at Pulenta's sister venture, Tomero. Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Bonarda are all well represented at Vistalba. While Malbec provides the basis for all of the estate's red wines, the other red varietals play significant supporting roles.
At Vistalba, one encounters what we have come to call the A, B, C wines. Each of the wines is called Corte, meaning harvest, cutting, or cross section in Spanish, to which an A, B, or C is attached. With each of the A, B, C wines, the actual blend or cepage is likely to vary somewhat from vintage to vintage, much as the classified wines of Bordeaux alter the percentage of each varietal, depending upon the vagaries and gifts of an individual vintage. Nonetheless, Corte A is typically the fullest of the trio. A blend of 40% Malbec, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 20% Bonarda, Corte A sports 15% alcohol and can require some time in bottle to tame its intensity. Corte B, a blend of 57% Malbec, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 13% Bonarda, is another full-bodied, rather intense offering. Corte C, on the other hand, is a more refined wine that draws from the charming side of Malbec. In most vintages, Corte C is comprised of 85% Malbec and 15% Merlot, a cepage that highlights the glory of Argentine Malbec at the same time that it affords Corte C a tailored, sophisticated Bordeaux feel and style.
In addition to the Corte series of wines, Vistalba fashions several other fine offerings, including an excellent white wine from Torrontes, an Argentine specialty. Vistalba also produces Tomero, a series of traditional varietal wines that reflect the noble lightness of the melted snows that irrigate the Mendoza.
Malbec (mahl-bec) at a Glance
Malbec is one of the five classic red grapes that comprise red Bordeaux or claret. Although now relegated to a minor role in Bordeaux, Malbec or Cot as it is sometimes called remains the heart and soul as well as the brawn and brains of Cahors, the illustrious "black wine" of southwest France, a wine renowned for its power and longevity.
Malbec produces one of the deepest, most intensely hued wines in the world. Argentina is now considered to be the spiritual home of Malbec, where old vines of this premium varietal yield the finest wine that nation can produce as well as one of South America's most compelling wines.
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