I wanted to make this a Monday Mendoza jaunt to kickstart the week. While distribution of the great wines from Argentina have been more inconsistent in the past few years, I wanted to highlight a winery that produces wonderful value Cabernet and Malbec, as Argentina has developed a worldwide reputation for these varietals. Kaiken is named after the, Caiquén which is is a wild goose from Patagonia that flies across The Andes between Argentina and Chile. Aurelio Montes, founder of the famed Chilean winery, Bodega Montes, after making several trips to Argentina disovered that he wanted to found a winery in Mendoza, focusing on Cabernet and Malbec. Kaiken was then founded in 2001 and they have been producing very serious values ever since.
I first tried these wines more than ten years ago and I was absolutely blow away with the quality of the wines, considering the price point. Many of these wines are at or even under ten dollars. Look for the 2015 Kaiken ‘Reserva’ Malbec (WWB, 91) which is a wine filled with dark and blue fruits and has a gorgeous texture and mouthfeel. For around 15 bucks, this is one of the great Malbec values out there. Also highly impressive was the 2015 Kaiken ‘Terroir Series’ Cabernet (WWB, 89) which showed wonderful depth considering the mere ten dollar price point. Look for these great value wines at wine shops in the northwest such as Total Wines. Here are the great new releases by Kaiken.
2016 Kaiken ‘Terroir Series’ Torrontes- This Salta based Torrontes weighs in at only 12.5% alcohol and begins with a nice bouquet of ripe peach, Mandarin orange blossom, cut ripe pear and honeysuckle. There are ripe flavors of nectarine, gooseberry, New York apple and crushed wildflowers. This is an exceedingly good value at this price point. Drink 2016-2020- 88
2015 Kaiken ‘Terroir Series’ Cabernet- This wine is a blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Malbec, and 8% Petit Verdot which utilized once to three times used French oak for ten months. The resultant wine begins with aromatics of blackberry jam, prune, Turkish coffee and suggestions of baking spices. On the palate there are flavors reminiscent of milk chocolate, blackberry, black cherry and black olive tapenade. This has wonderful smoothness and is another exceedingly good value from this estate. Drink 2016-2023- 89
2015 Kaiken ‘Terroir Series’ Malbec- This dense hued Malbec is a blend of 80% Malbec, 12% Bonarda, and 8% Petit Verdot. The Malbec grapes were sourced from the Uco Valley, while the Bonarda comes from the Kaiken Agrelo Estate and the Petit Verdot from the zone of Gualtallary. The wine was aged in 80% French oak for 10 months prior to bottling. This wine begins with aromatics reminiscent of creosote, violets, black cherry and black raspberry cordial. There are rich flavors of black cherry preserves, wild blackberry cobbler, baking spices and mocha. This is layered and delicious. Drink 2016-2023- 89
2015 Kaiken ‘Reserva’ Cabernet- This wine has aromatics of prune, red cherry, blackberry and black raspberry. This leads to flavors of black cherry, blackberry pie, anise and cloves. This has lovely weight on the mid-palate. Drink 2016-2023- 89
2015 Kaiken ‘Reserva’ Malbec- The Malbec has a small portion of Cabernet blended in (5%). The wine has an intoxicating bouquet of crushed violets, sage, black cherry, blueberry pie and exotic spices with light white pepper accents. There is lovely depth and texture to this wine. The Malbec has dense flavors of blackberry pie, blueberry compote, milk chocolate and sagebrush. This is a serious value from this estate. Drink 2016-2024- 91
2015 Kaiken ‘Ultra’ Cabernet- This inky colored Cabernet wine is a blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Malbec and 8% Petit Verdot that was sourced from the Uco Valley (Malbec and Petit Verdot) and Agrelo (Cabernet). This wine opens with an aromatic profile of baking spices, black cherry, blackberry cobbler, cassis and pipe tobacco. The palate has nice weight and minerality, yielding flavors reminiscent of black cherry, cassis, anise, cloves, and smoke. This would make an excellent pour at a great steakhouse. The structure suggests this will age beautifully well into the next decade. Drink 2016-2025- 90
2015 Kaiken ‘Ultra’ Malbec- Sourced from the Uco Valley, this Malbec needs roughly an hour to unwind. Aged 12 months in 80% French oak, the wine Once aroused the Malbec has a deep bouquet of graphite, blackberry compote, coffee grounds, and allspice. The palate yields flavors of blackberry cordial, black raspberry, blueberry and graphite. Structure, dense and needing some time, this should be enjoyed in one more year. Drink 2017-2023- 91