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swirl and savor

Taste with Winemaker Baptiste Cuvelier, Tuesday 1/31

Beth Ribblett

Baptiste Cuvelier

Morgan Stroud walked into the shop one afternoon, a winemaker in tow and a bag full of red wines with impressive labels.  Said winemaker was Baptiste Cuvelier, whose wine roots go back to the earlier 1800's and with the current family holdings including Leoville Poyferre, the venerable second growth Bordeaux house in Saint Julien. But Baptiste's family duties have taken him out of France and into South America where he has taken over production at Cuvelier Los Andes, located in Mendoza's Valle de Uco.

Cuvelier Los Andes
Sitting at the bar with the fast talking, energetic, 30 something Frenchman was quite a treat as he is very passionate about his work there and with good reason.  He is making some very impressive wines from vineyards at a dizzying 3,330 feet with the once forgotten Bordelaise variety of Malbec as the star of the show. Cabernet, Merlot, Syrah and Petit Verdot are also planted on their 150 acres and his lineup includes Bordeaux style blends, single variety bottlings with his Grand Vin blend at the top of the line.  He has also hopped over the mountains into Chile where he is making a natural wine that is definitely our best seller and staff favorite from South America, period.

The press on these wines alone should make you curious about this tasting, but once you have the wines you'll be hooked.  This will be a free tasting with Baptiste Cuvelier on Tuesday, 1/31 from 6-8pm.  We'll be tasting 5-6 of his big reds and you should be there....  Here are a few of the wines we'll be tasting:

Robert Parker's Wine Advocate:
2009  Cuvelier Los Andes Coleccion, 92 Points
The 2009 Collecion is a blend of the varietals. Purple in color, with a brooding bouquet, it is a dense, structured, rich wine with impeccable balance, volume, and length. It has the structure to evolve for 2-3 years but can be approached now. It, too, is a great value. Cuvelier Los Andes is owned by Bertrand and Jean-Guy Cuvelier, part-owners of renowned Bordeaux Chateau Leoville-Poyferre in Saint Julien. The estate is located in the Uco Valley at the foothills of the Andes and encompasses 115 acres of still young vines.

Robert Parker's Wine Advocate:
2007  Cuvelier Los Andes Grand Vin, 92+ Rating
The 2007 Gran Vin is a blend of 73% Malbec, 19% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 8% Merlot aged in French oak for 18 months. Saturated purple in color, it offers up an alluring bouquet of smoke, incense, Asian spices, and black cherry, with a hint of chocolate in the background. Full-bodied, layered, and opulent, the wine has superb depth of flavor, excellent integration of oak, tannin, and acidity, and a lengthy, fruit-filled finish. Dive it 4-6 years more bottle age and drink it from 2014 to 2027.

Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar:
2007 Cuvelier Los Andes Grand Malbec Mendoza, 93 Points
($62; 100% malbec) Saturated bright ruby. Very ripe, pure nose offers currant, graphite and smoke, plus hints of exotic Venezuela n chocolate and violet pastille. Wonderfully dense, rich and ripe yet primary and fresh, with a palate-saturating crushed blackberry flavor. A superb and tactile expression of malbec, with a firm tannic structure for aging but considerable high-toned early appeal.

Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar:
2009 Cuvelier Los Andes Malbec Colecion Mendoza, 90 Points
($18) Full ruby. Crushed dark berries, bitter chocolate and licorice on the nose. Thick and powerful but silky for all its density. Intriguing salty and earthy nuances contribute to the chewy impression of extract. Very ripe, serious, concentrated wine with just enough acidity to maintain its shape. Finishes with substantial dusty tannins. A lot of wine for the price.