Malbec Madness!

Malbec Madness!

Join the Celebration Weds April 17

In anticipation of Malbec Day Weds. April 17, Annie AnyDay, Ima Zinner, ChamPan, and I gathered on my sunny deck to taste four 2011 Malbecs: 2011 Trivento Reserve, 2011 Ruta 22, 2011 Conquista, all from Argentina, and from Chile, Concha y Toro’s 2011 Casillero del Diablo. (Reviews below).MalbecMadness

As Malbec and Malbec blends now account for almost half of the entire Argentinean wine category in the U.S., you’d think my first Malbec crush would be one from South America.

But the first Malbec that made a memorable impression and wowed my palate was actually a barrel sample from Basel Cellars that I tasted while on a visit there during the 2010 Wine Bloggers Conference in Walla Walla Washington.  

I remember clearly the lush blueberry that flooded my palate, and even now, I desire to repeat that experience. The following year when I re-visited Walla Walla, I found myself driving by the impressive gates of the even more impressive Basel Cellars estate, but unfortunately the tasting room was closed…and we were on our way to Oregon so I have yet to taste this Malbec in the bottle (and, btw,  Steven Tanzer awarded 89 Points to the 2008 Chelle Den Millie Malbec which retails for $32).

Malbec grapes on the vine in the Cafayate wine...

Malbec grapes on the vine in the Cafayate wine region of Argentina. This pic also demonstrates the trellising vine training used with drip irrigation system running along the bottom. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

According to the folks at Creative Palate, in the 1860s, Malbec was brought from France to the foothills of the Andes Mountains in Mendoza, Argentina where the constant sun and heat helps the grape to achieve optimal ripeness; Malbec thrives in the hot, dry weather and high elevations of Mendoza creating a typically ripe and lush wine with smooth tannins.

Malbec has also found suitable terroir on the other side of the Andes in the consistently hot and dry Rapel Valley of Chile.

Please join me in raising a collective glass to toast this newly “discovered,” newly beloved versatile and delightful varietal–regardless of where it comes from North or South America! Follow along with the fun on twitter by searching and tweeting using #MalbecMadness!

Trivento Malbec Reserve 2011 $11

Earth, wind, and sky! Some of the best legs of any wine ChamPan has ever seen, Annie quipped that they line up just like a can-can danceTrivento Reserve_Malbec_Bottler!

On the nose—beautiful, olifactory orgasm, spicy, earthy, sacred, sassafras – like root beer.

Color – Pretty garnet with violet along the rim, reminding us of pansies.

Pair with: Tri-tip, marinated in this wine or teriyaki sauce. Duck w/cherry sauce, salmon with blackberry sauce, tuna. More feminine, but complex, blue fruits. The next night it was still great and I tried it with a roast chicken which was fine but not as good as I had thought. I’d stick with red meats; I’d try it with barbeque sauce. It might pair well with mu shu pork or beef.

This wine has a playfulness to it that makes you want to have a pillow fight—and engage in pillow talk. Slight finish is the least of its attraction. We love that it’s got a lot of depth—so much depth for such an inexpensive wine; we were surprised to discover it retails for only $11 because we could see paying $20 for this. Lots of blueberry, but also strawberry and cherry, with mocha.

Ruta 22 Malbec 2011 $13Ruta22Malbec

This Malbec from Patagonia struck us as riper, richer, more ready to rip.

Dark ruby in color, the wine and the bottle makes a bold statement.

Spicy–lots of strong character like John Wayne! Yet at a meal, this wine is more like an important  “supporting cast” member rather than the star of the show.

We’d pair this Malbec with more foods, like a juicy tri-tip with a salt and pepper rub or lamb with a rosemary, salt/pepper rub,  and we’d enjoy it in lingerie wearing our cowboy boots or a pink fuzzy mini skirt time.

As it opens up, more and more blueberry pie and earth come into play, but not earthy mushroomy like a pinot noir but more like damp soil. The 14.5% alcohol is nicely balanced.

Overall, we think this is a strong wine and a great value, even if it has a weak finish. Bring this to a friend’s barbeque or birthday as an unexpected adventurous alternative to cabernet sauvignon.

Casillero del  Diablo (The Devil’s Cellar) $12

This is for the secretary—on a Friday, says Ima Zinner (who supports her wine habit with a very important city administrative position!) We’re back wearing that pink fuzzy cowgirl outfit, but this time we’ve got the whip out!  CdD_Malbec_Bottle_NL_Bottle

Let the devil out! A little time in the glass goes a long way toward getting more complexity and depth out of this wine. Black pepper on the nose. Big glass with a big bowl, but don’t fill it up—so it can breathe. Did we drink this whole bottle?! Let’s talk about the finish. I’ll promise you this, I’ll promise you that, but it is devilish in the front. Laugh and type and drink. ChamPan is a God! He is in charge of the wood fairies. OMG! It doesn’t smell like pepper now, it smells like cranberry and blueberry. Colorful blanket that you put on with your big spurs (yikes!) and you eat fresh fruit & veges—it’s all coastal,, just like us! Concha Y Toro is biodynamic, sustainable & organic. Pan has pellets.

Drinking this wine we came up with ChamPan’s wine blogging name because we started talking about the Devil, and some say that the Greek God Pan became the Christian Devil. Pan is associated with the nymphs, shepherds, spring and fertility and of Love; ChamPan is our Divine Devil.


Conquista $9

So I saw this on sale, thought it was $6.90 (it was $8.90) and loved the beautiful label, so went for it. Unfortunately, this wine is flawed; hard for me to say whether it is this bottle or the wine. The nose reminded us of following a horse down a trail and kicking a road apple. It’s got lots of blue berry and plum and it’s a pretty color but with burnt rubber on the finish.  How disappointing. How sad. It’s composed of 88% Malbec, 6% Bonardo, 3% Shiraz, and 3% Merlot.

We opened the wines in the order they’re listed above; the first three were samples sent for me to consider for review while the final one (the not so good one!) I bought. Thanks for the help to Ima Zinner (who took notes), Annie AnyDay, and our newest Wine Predator, ChamPan (because he loves Champagne and he reminds us of playful Pan! Just wait to see a photo of his devilish good lucks!)

On Wednesday, Que Syrah Sue will join us and we’ll open and taste another wine from Trivento:
Amado Sur Malbec blend 2011 $15.00

and probably a few more Malbecs!

What will YOU be drinking for #MalbecMadness?

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