Best Malbec ever! Weinert Estrella 1977

We were invited by a friend-couple yesterday, both of them are working in the hotel industry. This sometimes gives them great occasions for private wine-buying:
We had an exceptional Malbec Estrella Lujan 1977 from Weinert. This wine caught a rating of 19/20 P. in our leading wine-mag "vinum", so we were really anxious to this bottle:
This wine was in the big wood cask until 1998! Harmonious acidity and alluring sweetness on the palate,plum and cedarwood flavours, incredibly deep and smoky ultralong finish. Crazy, unusal wine, not comparable with any other Malbec I've ever tasted. I'd rate it at 92 P.

[ 06-07-2002, 08:28 AM: Message edited by: Marc ]
Original Post
I'm guessing this is a very rare wine, so probably not available (or easily found at least) over here. Too bad Jan Luthman has vanished off the face of the earth, he loves malbec. So does another regular here, whose names escapes me at the moment....
would that be......moi? [Big Grin]

Saw the post, haven't responded as to the unlikelihood of any mere mortal ever seeing this wine. Also, only other Bodegas Weinert experience was a complete downer. I'd be interested in 'finding' this for a taste somewhere, though...
bman and kybo,
this is a very rare wine indeed. You could buy it until recently at one or two high-end retailers here for around USD 70. Our friends payed about half of that price. It seems strange though, that it is nowhere to find in your places, since you're closer to Argentina and import much more of their wines.
kybo: I would love to try a great malbec but we get so little of any malbec here. If they're not sending the stuff here, nor to Europe, where is it going? [Confused] We get only the wretched Etchart (though their torontes is good), and a couple of others, one of which is pretty $$$$$.
Just for the rare Malbec-Lovers here (according to a recent posting): We finished the last bottle of this beauty yesterday and it was absolutely fantastic, alluring sweet, smoky, finegrained plummy and yummie like an aristocratic bordeaux! I would maybe rate that one classic. Everyone who ever has the chance to try this wine will never speak again of Malbec as an inferior variety!
Marc,

I am also a fan of Malbec wines. Kybo introduced this very alluring grape to me a few months back. If you can find it in your neck of the woods, try the 2000 Tikal 'Amorio' malbec from Argentina. It is truly a wonderful example of how some of the really good malbecs are made today. The downside to this wine is that the annual case production is under 500 cases. Kybo and I bought some for $US35 per bottle. WS rates it 91 pts. I wish I was lucky enough to try a 25 year old bottle of malbec. Good luck finding the Tikal.

IW
Italian wino,
It is astonishing that you can't find the Weinert Malbec Estrella 1977 in the USA. The last tranche of this wine has left the winery only two years ago. I could still buy it in Switzerland for around USD 75 and I'm really tempted to do so. Thanks for the Tikal-tip, I'd like to try that when I run into it.

[ 07-04-2002, 04:23 AM: Message edited by: Marc ]
I KNEW I’d find Kybo on this thread! And Bman, I’m still around – just a trifle pressed for time at the moment.
Marc: I’d never even heard of Weinert’s Estrella Lujan before. Eleven years in cask!! Unbelievable.
I’ve just been reading some other notes on the stuff – sounds about as close to Nirvana as I’m likely to get. Amazingly, it is available over here, but at £1,000 ($1,500) per case of 12. Sadly, however glorious the juice, that’s a price that’s hard to justify in these straitened times – I’ll just dream on a while.
You're a lucky man, Marc.
Many thanks for that, Brent – delighted to meet another Malbec devotee. Yup, oak-smoky BBQ spare ribs would be just perfect.

Malbec does pop up in Forum conversations from time to time – sorry to have missed your thread (we were away most of May).

I’m still fantasising about Marc’s 1977 Estrella but, descending a moment from those Elysian heights, there is a much more modestly priced, and almost equally rare, Argentinian Malbec that you might like to try and track down – even if only for the curiosity value. “Cadus”, made by Nieto Senetiner.

According to the blurb I’ve read, Senetiner’s consultant is Alberto Antonini, a protégé of Tachis and an ex-winemaker at Antinori. Senetiner’s malbec vines are allegedly over eighty years old. I tried a bottle of the 1997 Cadus earlier this year - on opening, the wine was very tight and the nose very closed: just another OK toasty-smoky-oaky Argentina Malbec.

But, after the JVH Luthman patented process of drinking one small glass then recorking bottle and leaving for 24 hours in a cool dark corner under the stairs in the north-east corner of the house, it turned into something just stunning. Dark purple, almost black in colour: lovely glutinous sheets of glycerin; wonderfuI nose and palate of black currant/black cherry, with gorgeous vanilla, spices, toasted smoky oak, and a thread of acidity/wild berry flavors running though the whole thing.

Wine-searcher.com only lists three stockists in the world outside Argentina – the nearest to you is way up in bman territory in Quebec. I suspect half my pleasure in discovering this wine was that one of the three global stockists is an eccentric little merchant in the town of Sanderstead, a few miles up the single-track rail line from our village.

Senetiner’s website does list a US agent, although I don’t know how up to date the information is:
LEONARD KREUSCH, 200 LE GRAND AVE., NORTHVALE, N.J. 07647-2406 Telephone: 1-201-7842500 Fax: 1-201-7840951 Contact: ROLF O. THEUERKAUF

There’s an interesting write-up on Argentinian wine producers (including Senetiner) at:
http://www.wineaccessmag.com/LifewiseWineAccess1999/nov_arg2.html

Happy hunting!
To continue the Malbec finds... I stumbled across a 99 Yacochuya Malbec, RP 91, and took an immediate liking to it's chocately goodness. I grabbed a few more bottles to cellar. Very interesting grape, I hope to seek out some more Argentinian Malbecs.
Ok, guys, here comes a contrarian opinion!

I love Malbec but I did not have a high opinion of the Weinert Malbec 1977 Estrella. Estrella, which means "star", is added to the Weinert label only on bottles coming from the best barrels in a great vintage year. I had this wine at one of the top Argentinean beef restaurants about a year ago. It was like $75 at the restaurant list. It had to compete with 1997 Angelica Catena Zapata Malbec and 1997 Angel Mendoza "Pura Sangre" Malbec. The latter two were around $35 and $20. The Weinert came in last and was the only bottle we did not finish! My notes said: highly oxidized; made in the old Argentinean style (big barrels), velvety and supple but the fruit is hidden below the acidity. Was this an off-bottle? Could be and after hearing other people rave about this wine, I am willing to give it a second shot ... but I think that the disagreement here is about "style."

If you like big, ripe fruity wines, this Malbec Estrella will disappoint you. It is made in a sort of old Rioja style ... that's the best comparison.

Having said this, I do love the 1994 Cavas de Weinert (Estrella), which is a blend of Cab S, Malbec and Merlot. Unfortunately, the winemaker who made the 1994 does no longer work for Weinert. I doubt that he was behind the 1977 Malbec. The Cavas has consistently been better than the varietal wines, year after year.

Cheers,
Gus
Oh well, nobody is around ... I'll keep talking to myself [Cool]

Marc: Does the label say just "Lujan" or "Lujan de Cuyo"? Only the latter makes sense to me.

Also, Parker reviewed this wine in August 1992 (WA issue #82) and gave it 94 pts. His description, however, is very different from mine ... which keeps me wondering whether I have had an off-bottle ... could be.

Nevertheless, this wine was bottled 10 years ago. It was probably further aged in bottle (not in cask) at the winery before being released again, just a couple of years ago.

According to wine-searcher.com, the wine is available for $80-90 in Canada at The Wine Cottage (Calgary) and British Columbia Liquor.

Gus
gusgus,
you're right, it's "Lujan de Cuyo". I think you really had a bad bottle, then! Your description does not fit with my three experiences with this wine. However there is bottle variation (not astonishing with such an old wine) and my rating vary between 90 and 95P.
Your comparison is not bad however, it has some similarities with great old 1964-Riojas, or with earthy Lafitte.
As far as I read, there were several bottlings maybe the first already 10 years ago, the last dates only 2-3 year back.

[ 07-07-2002, 06:47 AM: Message edited by: Marc ]
Hi Marc,

I will be in Argentina late in July and prompted by this thread, I did some due diligence last night and have already found a shop where they sell the 1977 Malbec Estrella for A$70, which now is less than US$20! So, I will buy whatever they have, try it, and report back ... I had given up on this wine, but restaurants in Argentina are well known for storing wine right next to the barbecue grill! (I'm kidding, but I suspect that my bottle may have been improperly stored).

I am glad to hear that you like my comparison with great old Rioja. This Malbec is definitely not done in the fruit forward, oaky, fruit bomb style that has become so popular. I am not a big fan of old-style Rioja but I have had a few that were wonderful and delicious (1978 Castillo Ygay comes to mind).

Gus
Marc,

I found this link, where the wine is described as bottled in 1998:

http://www.bodegaweinert.com/ingles/wines/weinsortiment.htm

On the right column, find "Special Wines", and then Estrella 1977.
They give a whole description of the wine. They say that the information on the wine corresponds to the blend done in the 2000 release (they are releasing it in batches apparently) ... Hmm, "blend" ... sounds like there may be bits of Cab S and merlot in the wine??

They also say that the next release of "Estrella" will be for the 1994 harvest.

Gus
So, Guscus, Estrella is priced at $1,500.00 per case of twelve in the UK, but can be bought over the counter in Argentina at less than $20 a bottle.
I’m still trying to work out whether that makes it any less magical. Or whether my wife and I should go on holiday to Argentina, buy six cases, come home, keep one, sell five, then do it again, and again, and again - all through the British winter........

What a wonderful dream.

You got any tips on "Where?" In Argentina?

By the way, is Laura Catena not the sister of Ernesto of Tikal Amorio fame? What a phenomenal family. Sadly, as far as I can find out, neither Ernesto nor Laura yet export to the UK. Did you taste your Achal Ferrer Gran Malbec and Luca Malbec in Argentina?

Lucky old you.

Marc – v impressed that you came across Cadus at a tasting. I’d agree with your view on the pricing. It lists at around £17 ($25) over here - that's a lot less than Catena Alta or Lapostolle's ‘Clos Apalta’, but there’s still a lot of good 90+ competition available at that kind of price in the UK. Strange how the cadus seemed to taste like a Malbec made by an Italian – or maybe I’m just easily influenced by the blurb.
Jan,

Malbec Estrella 1977 at La-Barrica on-line shop for $69.90 pesos argentinos or roughly $US20:

1. go to www.la-barrica.com />2. on the left bar where "Buscador" (Finder) is, choose from the roll menu: "Vino Tintos" on the top and "Mayor a $50" on the bottom. Then, click "Ir".
3. Voila: Weinert Estrella 1977 should be in the list, together with other Catena-Zapatas beauties from 1991, 1993, 1994 and 1995.

I sent them email to check how many bottles they have. Not sure how accurate their on-line inventory is ...

Laura is Ernesto's sister, correct. Tikal and Luca are imported into the US by Vine Connections in California. The wines carry the names of their children. The Lucas are $35 (Malbec) and $45 (Cab S); 1999 Luca Cab S kicks butt ... better than 1999 Caymus SS and Phelps Insignia IMHO.

Yes, I tried the Achaval Ferrer 1999 Gran Malbec in Buenos Aires last year. Brought 3 bottles with me ... but at the time, it was retailing for US$75 (worth the money really). I am hoping to find some bottles at 100-120 pesos when I go there ... inflation has been 40-50% but 1 dollar=3.5 pesos now ... I'm told.

Cadus: this wine has been missing me and it is hard to find in the US. I hope to get it soon ...

Clos Apalta: yeah, baby! This is truly the only one Chilean wine (the 1997) that had me raving for days ... the best Chilean stuff is coming from Apalta indeed. I have a couple of 1997 and two 1999 in the cellar. They retail for $50 in the US. I bought the 1997 in Santiago last year on a friend's recommendation.

Gus
Sorry for reviving this old thread but I just wanted to say that I went to Argentina, retasted the Weinert Estrella Malbec 1977 ... and it is an awesome wine! Brought back with me 6 botlles. Ended up paying around $25 (US). This wine is still amazingly fruity and luscious. The one bottle I had before was probably in bad shape. Apologies to those who rightly defended this wine. It is a mid 90s pt wine. Never would have thought Malbec will shine this brightly.
Humm..very interesting..if anyone is interested in a bottle of the '77 WEINERT STAR MALBEC let me know...A case is avaible at $150 a bottle...I know that guscus picked them up for $25 but this is the price that I have seen at a NYC shop....Not sure if I should pick up a bottle to taste...what do you think?
Some info from the Weinert web page:

Wine & Vintage: Weinert Malbec "Estrella" 1977
Vineyards: Lujan de Cuyo
Harvest date: March and early April 1977
Grape Varieties: Malbec
Harvest: - all hand picked grapes
- harvest at optimum maturity for each varietal
- quality control of the harvested grapes is made by specialised staff of "Bodega y Cavas de
Weinert SA" in the vineyard
Vinification: - fermentation made by selected yeast
- temperature controlled fermentation
- malolactic fermentation to soften the acid components of the wine and to add complexity in flavour and structure
- filtration as little as possible
- no cold stabilisation !
Ageing: Wine aged more then 15 years in French oak cask of 6'000 litters before blended
Blend: Date: 28.10.97
Litters: +/- 18'750 ( 25'000 bottles )
100% Malbec
Bottling: 16.12.1997 & 03.09.1998
Analysis: - alcohol Vol% 15,2
- total acidity 5,47 g/l ( as tartaric acid )
- residual sugar 1,86 g/l
- dry extract 29,46 g/l
- volatile acidity 1,0 g/l ( as acetic acid )
- PH 3,6
Cellering potencial: Ready for drinking now, but will benefit from maturation in bottle for up to ten years ( 2000 - 2010 )
Information: This is the information of the last Blend of Malbec "Estrella" 1977, which will leave the winery from February 2000 to 20??.
For information about blends before this one please contact us.
Next blend of Malbec "Estrella" will be 1994.
Winemakers tasting notes:
This wine possesses an intense colour with always light violet hues and a fruity aroma, redolent of plum, cherries, spices, chocolate and dried fruits. It is characterised by a well structured body and a very long, smooth finish.
This is a great bottle of wine but at $150 ... you have a lot of competition! I paid US$25 in Argentina (90 pesos) and I hear that the winery has a ton of this wine, so $150 sounds really expensive. It all depends how curious you are about Malbec. This wine has already developed some secondary flavors ... If you like old Bordeaux, you may not wanna skip this one.
The winery info is kind of misleading because there was a previous than 1997 bottling of this wine, which Parker gave 94 pts. Rovani says that the early bottles (out of Parker's celalr) were much better than the recent ones he has had ... Isn't it really strange that they have had all this wine in oak casks for 20 years .... and bottle it more than once?? ANyhow, 1994 was also a great year for Weinert, so I am really looking forward to their next Estrella bottling. Without a doubt, Weinert is one of the best wineries in Argentina (Catena and Achaval-Ferrer are in the same league).

Cheers,
Gus
Guscus, I'm glad you had the possibility to taste a good bottle. I had this wine three times now and it was always outstanding. I gave it between 92 and 95 points, as there was some bottle variation. At USD 25 I would happily buy as many cases as possible. @ USD 150? Probably not. I would pay around USD 80 here and that's already very hard at my limit or above. However to all of you who have never tried it, it's an incredible experience of an unusal, crazy wine that spots every description!

[ 08-24-2002, 05:12 AM: Message edited by: Marc ]
Marc,

Good to hear that you got my recent reply. You were right all along with this wine. It is evident that one cannot based an opinion on a wine on a single bottle had at a restaurant whose storage conditions are unknown ... Anyhow, I agree that at US$25, this wine is a strong buy. At $US80, it has a lot of competition ...

I see that you write from Switzerland. I was in Lugano for a full week just a couple of weeks ago and had some fun tasting some good Merlots de Ticino. They can be thin and vegetal in bad years but very good to excellent if the fruit is ripe. They do reflect terroir, which I like. Ended up visiting a property there (Tenimento dell'or) where they make Sottobosco, a pretty decent effort. But the reason I bring this up is because everything is so expensive in Switzerland! Prices are typically twice what they are in the US (Houston prices at least), so your $US80 from a Swiss perspective are more like "true" US$40 for the average guy here ... and that sounds like a good price for the Estrella.

Sorry for the long winded answer. I am visiting Weinert in a couple of weeks and the winemaker has promised to be there ... I am truly curious about the multiple bottlings of the 1977 Estrella and will inquire about a 1994 release.

Gus
Guscus, you're absolutely right with the Merlot del Ticino. The last outstanding year was 1997, when the Merlot-grapes were totally ripe when harvested. Among the best producers are Vinattieri, Castello Luigi, Zündel, Kaufmann, Gialdi, Brivio and a few more. If you ever have the chance to taste a 1997 version of Castello Luigi, Orizzonte (Zündel), Platinum (Brivio) or Merlot 36 (Gialdi), grab it, they're fantastic!

It surprises me, that prices were so high from your perspective. At least wine-prices are incredibly low, compared to what our fellow-forumites in the US pay. Maybe not in tourist-oriented shops, but when you're in Switzerland the next time, I would be happy to give you some good-retailers adresses for wine-shopping (also some advice for nice eating and hotels). You're surely right however with hotel prices. They are really mostly over the hill.
Marc,

Of the producers you mentioned, I tried Castello Luigi (1998) Rosso del Ticino, and found it a very decent effort. I bought a bunch of bottles at a place called Bottegone del Vino in downtown Lugano. They had some Ornellaia at very good prices, but I passed it (can you believe it?) to try some oddities like Cantina Pizzorin Fifty-fifty, Tenuta Bally, and Topazio. All very ggod wines (1999 most of them). One weird thing about these wines is that older vintages are nowhere to be found ... Sottobosco's owner confessed to me that he only had 6 bottles of the 1997 left in the winery. He sold me the 2000 at US$20 (reasonable) but the Bottegone had none and was expecting to sell it at US$65. Well, that I call expensive.

(This thread has become Estrella meets Ticino, I guess.)

Cheers,
Gus
well guscus it seems you laid your hands on some of our real beauties. Tenuta Bally's Crespera Riserva is a very nice wine, especially in good years like 1996 or 1997, when the small Cabernet-part was ripe enough to loose the green/capsicum notes it sometimes shows in bad vintages. And the 1997 Topazio (Merlot, also with some Cabernet parts) was just one of the best Ticino-wines ever made.

You're however right, older vintages (especially the great 1990, 1996 and 1997) are almost impossible to find; the quantities of these wines are not very big and they're usually completely absorbed by our high-end home-market at arrival.

Of the actual vintages, 1998 was very mediocre, 1999 was better (good). Best 1999-wines tried so far are:
- Orizzonte (Zündel)
- Rosso di Sera (Klausener)
- Crespera Riserva (Bally)
All the high-end Crus mentioned in the former posts should be better than their 1998 versions as well.

Next time you're in Switzerland, try to buy the wines directly from the producers. It is usually possible and the costs are a fraction of what you pay in a retail shop. I can give you the phone-numbers of most producers then.

I have to be a bit careful with patriotism concerning wine (I don't want to be slapped by some of our forumites like poor Mishy [Wink] ), but I'm a big fan of Merlot del Ticino. The effords in the last decade are enormous and nowadays the best wines show unique characteristics: They're elegant like Pomerols, but they have this distinctive smoky earthiness and mineralic notes that can only come from colder/more extreme climates.

Please post TN's on your ('98 or '99?) Topazio, I'm very curious!
There are some pretty good Bordeauxs out there for the prices mentioned. Not even getting into the Penfolds 707's (50-60$USD) , Henschke Cyrils(40-50$ USD), Cullens($40-50USD) and Stonyridges'($60USD)s of the world. It had better score at least 90-95 points every time released ,for that sort of money .Admitantly it is malbec, a much under utilised variety and of interest in its own right but for the money discussed- blimey. You'd really have to be very curious or very passionate about malbec.
Jeremy, try to find any 1977 outstanding to classic rated and still drinkable Bordeaux (almost impossible anyway for that vintage) or any other wine, that is in this price range. When you consider the 25 years of aging, 80 USD is not a crazy price. It all depends on your taste. I personally like matured wines that show a lot of complexity and secondary notes which you cannot find in a fruit-forward young wine.

[ 08-29-2002, 06:52 AM: Message edited by: Marc ]
Yes for that particular vintage very hard indeed, however should one cellar their wines pulling aged stock out at reasonable prices isn't that hard. Just because a wine is released 25 yrs on doesn't really allow the option of buying it at a reasonable price. I agree it is great that some vineyards do this, and then have other wines that you can consume earlier. But why not like many of the great Chateaus/Wineries etc... just offer tham after vintage and leave it up to the people when it is best to drink. I guess it all comes down to the personality's of the wineries themselves. I love aged cabernet family grapes (particularly cab franc) but I feel that I wouldn't pay that at release even if it is 25 years of age. Have you tried many other vintages ? Thats what I base my own expectations and expiriences on. Sure I use WA and WS as referances but if I haven't tried a wine before or seen consistant and regular notes relating to a vintage or wine then I feel $80 USd is to high. Thats my opinion . I love the complexity of 1981 Cheval Blanc, or 1945 Lafite (of which I still have three bottles and it only cost me $300 NZd a bottle thats $150 USD- one of my best bargains ever at the auctions.), but should I have a) not read good things about them previously, b) not tried other vintages of their wines or c) only went by a couple of write ups I would never have purchased them. Maybe (as I am possibly now) limiting myself and losing an opportunity by burning my bridges? Maybe... [Smile]
Jeremy, I taste most of the young wines I buy first at the retailer. It is a great thing here that retailers freely open even very expensive bottles for a customer who wants to taste them. However when it comes to old vintages, it is usually not possible to taste them first. So I have to rely on TN's of experts that fit with my taste. In Bordeaux this is René Gabriel, editor of "Weinwisser" and author of the book "Bordeaux total" which covers an incredible number of old Bordeaux-vintages and most of Chateaux.
I almost never had a disappointment with his recos. Parker and Suckling are much farer from my palate (Suckling is the most inconsistent of all the three), their Bordeaux-ratings are usually not valuable for me.

The amount I'm willing to pay for any wine is usually capped at USD 100 anyway. When it comes close to that price, I either have to taste the wine by myself or read an outstanding TN from someone I trust.

[ 08-30-2002, 12:06 PM: Message edited by: Marc ]
Marc,

Sorry that I post so sparely here ... but I'm busy. I have to collect my notes on the dozen or so Merlots de Ticino that I had in Lugano. I owed those to Victor de la Serna who graciously gave me names of his favorite producers. I surely believe ---and I hope that you would agree--- that those Merlots from Ticino express terroir! Lovely wines. Keep up the good quality (and lower the Swiss Franc [Razz] ) and you may be the next "cult" region.

Back on topic, I am heading down to Argentina tomorrow and have an appointment on Tuesday with Weinert Malbec Estrella 1977 winemaker ... I have a bunch of questions for him ... but if you have your own, feel free to post them, and I will pass them along.

Best,
Gus
(OT) Just for Marc:

Topazio, Tenuta Bally & von Teufenstein, 1997

Dark color. Fully saturated. The nose reflects the terroir: Ticino Merlot! Aromas of ripe fruit, red berries, cherry, some licorice and wet leather. Excellent weight and body. No hints of green, herbal edges. Will age graciously for another 3-5 years. Not sure this is 100% Merlot ... shows some typical Cab tannins (or Petite verdot). Excellent. 92 pts.

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