April is Malbec Month: How We Celebrated #MalbecWorldDay 4/17

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When Que Syrah Sue dropped by on Friday to drop off my son’s newly repaired Cotillion pants a few hours before Cotillion, I knew I needed to reward her with some wine!

But what to open? The night before I had opened a bottle of Joel Gott 2013 Grenache (what a great wine and a super value for the price!), but as she was ready and willing to take notes and I was willing to prep a plate of appetizers, I started searching samples to see what we should open.

And then I thought– I bet there’s one of those “wine days” coming up– let’s use that to decide what to open! So we went to Wine Folly because Madeline Puckett and team have created a thorough list of these “wine celebration days” along with images for each, and there it was, the answer to our “what wine to open” question: MALBEC!

With Malbec World Day coming right up Sunday April 17, we knew we needed to open one and get going on this blog post! And the under $10

Decopas – Malbec 2014 Mendoza, Argentina- 13% all

is a great choice for a toast to all things Malbec!

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Why?  Here are 7 reasons:

  1. Decopas is Argentine slang for “happy hour” –and this was indeed a happy hour and a happy wine to drink!
  2. It’s inexpensive and a great value at under $10.
  3. The label looks like a party which carries through to the wine because it tastes like a party.
  4. Easily accessible and fruit forward but still has structure–not too sweet, and certainly not a “fruit bomb”
  5. Unpretentious with a twist off cap making it easy to open for impromptu parties, picnics and other occasions
  6. Pairs well with a variety of lightweight appetizers and picnic type foods
  7. It’s a relatively simple and enjoyable wine –you’ll spend your time talking with your friends instead of talking about the wine!

Decopas is Trivento’s inexpensive party wine (read about some of their other wines here).  The caption on the back label states “Life is full of flavor.” Decopas is Argentine slang for happy hour. Color is a bit cloudy and ruby. Soft nose with floral notes of roses, carnations violets, and black pepper. On the palette, it’s soft and easy drinking, well-balanced without a specific pronounced fruit.

Well rounded and very easy to drink, it would pair well with picnic foods, chicken or BBQ meats, a burger with blue cheese. It is simple and easy to drink, but it is not too sweet.

It goes wonderfully with blue cheese. It would be fantastic with salami or try it with pizza or gnocci with a blue cheese cream sauce. The lightness of the wine would compliment this unusually heavy meal without making you feel bogged down if it were paired with a bigger bolder heavier wine.

Since this wine is very accessible and easy to drink on its own, you might think of it as a cocktail wine or for lunchtime or a picnic.

If you were drinking this wine out of your red solo cup at  party,  a you may not get the same flavor profile as we were when drinking it out of nice expensive glasses. While glasses are important to the enjoyment of wine, and it does change the nose bringing out the spicy notes of this wine, this is not such sophisticated wine where you need to worry too much about the glass that it is in. In the stemless Riedel glass it had a much headier aroma.

For under $10 we really like it. It is hard to put your finger on what it is that is nice about this wine, however it is very enjoyable. For the price you are not going to be disappointed with this wine.

Speaking of parties…

something to listen to while you read on…The Barrelhouse Wailers who performed to an enthusiastic crowd at the California Jazz and Wine Festival! Although no one danced… like my pal Sandy Burris who you can see in this video!

Today I went to the California Jazz and Wine Festival and, in particular, sought out Malbec to taste for #MalbecWorldDay.

Unless you were inside the air-conditioned Four Seasons Ballroom (pictures above from a no AC tent),  it was very hot and very crowded, and there was no booklet or list to see who was pouring what in order to focus my attention on specific wines like Malbec or even wineries from the new Malibu AVA. And I couldn’t make rhyme or reason over how the facility was organized!

Most of the wineries pouring were local to Ventura County, usually using fruit from Paso or Santa Barbara, or they were Santa Barbara wineries with close ties to Ventura County.

What was most exciting was tasting the wines I found grown in the new Malibu AVA; I look forward to visiting the wineries and tasting rooms and tasting again.

Fortunately, in my searching, I found one Malbec and several wines that included Malbec in their blends. And I should have tried harder to taste at the crowded Semler table because I love their Malibu Malbec and have a bottle of it in the cellar right now!

Malbec is a wine that is typically used in Bordeaux blends along with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petite Verdot. But a deadly disease wiped most of it out–except for those vines that were established in Argentina where it has really taken off (as evidenced above and in this post which has reviews of five wines from Argentina and one from California). As it gains popularity as a wine that can stand alone, we are finding more of it being grown and made in California and Washington, and more interest in well made and inexpensive Malbec coming from Argentina.

So what Malbec did I find and taste?

I was quite impressed with the Coquelicot 2010 “Mon Amour” blend and I’m bummed that I missed the opportunity to try the 2007… because it was all gone when I knew to ask for it! Cool coastal Santa Barbara County is not known for its Bordeaux grapes, but these estate vines can pull it off as this wine testifies. Deep ruby jewel color, this very serious, almost intense but still accessible wine offers a lively richness and complexity with tart black and red fruit and cedar. SRP $45. I also appreciate that Coquelicot is committed to farming their 50 some estate acres organically and sustainably. Clearly, this is a winery to put on my to visit list!

I found a more playful blend in Golden Star Vineyards Purple Haze. While they are growing grapes (including Malbec) and making wine at 3000′ elevation high above the Antelope Valley, Purple Haze is made with grapes from the Paso Robles AVA. While mostly a very peppery Zinfandel, this zany blend includes Merlot and Malbec. There is a lot going on in this wine for $20 and it would be a fun wine to bring to your favorite hippy or Deadhead! Buying a bottle or two of this wine to break out from our tie-dyed VW van is a good enough reason to visit their high desert hideaway soon! (Plus they are close to the PCT –so I might just be able to backpack to my van there!) Note: they are not yet open to the public for tours but you can visit them on the weekends by appointment.

So what was the one Malbec I found and how was it?

San Vincente Cellars, located in nearby Camarillo (I think!), saved the #MalbecWorldDay with this Malbec from the new AVA in Santa Barbara County, the very hot, dry, and rocky Happy Canyon located in the eastern part of the Santa Ynez Valley far from the ocean. With an SRP of $45, it might seem a bit pricey for a grape that many are unfamiliar with, but this fruit forward and accessible wine delivers depth, delicious and delightful fresh tart berries, plum, minerality, supple texture, spice, and richness. There’s a preciously small amount of this grape and demand is growing; only 50 cases of this wine were made. This is a new grape for the winemaker to work with; if he can get fruit of this quality again, I hope he makes more Malbec!

Even if you read this post too late to open a bottle of Malbec and share it on social media with the hashtag #MalbecWorldDay, the month of April is Malbec Month so open one tomorrow! Or the next day! Certainly, if you feel like Malbec, go for it.

Here are 7 reasons why I love Malbec— on #MalbecWorldDay or any day! Cheers!

PS What day is coming up next? Why, it’s Sauvignon Blanc Day! But is Sauvignon Blanc Day April 24 or May 6?  I will discuss this plus review Decopas Sauvignon Blanc as well as discussing others! Subscribe and stay tuned for more!

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