Argentine Malbec, New Zealand Merlot, Australian Cabernet & more

Crossroads Merlot 2008, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand (£11.50 Mentzendorff)
Ripe, but with some leafy freshness to its bright blackcurrant & berry flavours and tinges of chocolatey oak, OK, but just a bit simple & fruity. B-

Crossroads Talisman 2008, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand (£19 Mentzendorff)
More of that chocolate wafer biscuit oak character, with some spicy warmth to rounbd out the cassis and blackberry flavours, soft and rounded, just feels a little ‘made’ rather than being a product of the soil. B(+)

Altos Las Hormigas Malbec 2009, Mendoza, Argentina (£9.99 Whole Foods, Highbury Vintners, Philglas & Swiggot, Liberty Wines)
Delicious, vibrant & fresh, with crunchy, warm-hearted blueberry and blackberry flesh tinged with chocolate & violet, a touch of spice and a savoury yet refreshing finish. S(-)

Viñalba Cuvée Couture Malbec/Touriga Nacional Reserva 2008, Mendoza, Argentina (£9.99 Majestic – £7.99 if you buy 2 until 30/8/10)
Sweet, meaty youngster, with ginger notes on top of ripe berries, good but maybe lacks the joyful appeal of the above wine, and apart from that ginger edge, I’m not sure what the Touriga adds to the Malbec. B+

McGuigan ‘The Shortlist’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2008, Coonawarra, Australia (£12.49 Majestic – £9.99 until 31/8/10)
Intense earthy cassis flavours, notes of leather and mint, and a touch of smoky oak, but overall, this is just too simple, and the dry hardness on the finish suggests that it’s been over-acidified. B

Tahbilk Cabernet Sauvignon 2006, Nagambie Lakes, Central Victoria, Australia (£12.45 The Wine Society, Jeroboams, Oxford Wine Company, Philglas & Swiggot, Cambridge Wine Merchants, Theatre of Wine, Guildford Wine Company, Goodrich Wines, Bon Coeur Fine Wines, Wine Importers of Edinburgh)
Showing a touch of warmth and maturity, but still has plenty of juicy, plum, blackcurrant and berry character, softer & gentler, and a confident, earthy finish. S-

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