While Malbec is a wine to enjoy all year around and is grown all around the world, Malbec World Day on April 17 is THE DAY of the year to take a moment to appreciate Malbec, and specifically, Malbec from Argentina. To celebrate Malbec World Day, eight members of the Ventucky Wine Tribe gathered at Drummer Diane’s to pair Argentinean inspired cuisine with eight Malbec from Argentina: six red still wines and two rose sparkling wines! We started off with one rose sparkler and closed the evening with the other with dessert.
This post is about the two bottles of bubbles, and the next is about the six bottles of still red wine, plus five fun facts about Malbec from Argentina.
NV Ernesto Catena Vineyards Alma negra – Brut Nature – Mendoza Argentina – 13% alcohol
Sample provided from Vineyard Brands
This wine came with a few other bottles of bubbles from around the world, and the dark bottle and label immediately sparkled my interest.
What the heck was in this bottle? Truly a wine of mystery!
But since it is from Argentina, According to the tech sheet I found on the Vineyard Brands website, Alma Negra is a blend of Malbec and Pinot Noir! The grapes come from two elevations in Mendoza: Vistaflores, Tunuyán at 3,608 feet and Gualtallary, Tupungato at 4,265 feet. The wine spent eight months on lees and then secondary fermentation under crown cap. While the RS is 4.5, the PH is 3.2.
Owner Ernesto Catena is a fourth generation winemaker, world traveler, computer scientist, historian, painter, reader, art collector, horseman, polo player, and archer. He created his epmlnyous brand in 2002.
Alma Negra means “Black Soul” and the wines acquired this name because his first wines had “a real “black soul” when you saw them in the glass.
No mystery about it– this wine was the perfect way to start the evening and wake up our palates! (It would also be a great choice for Easter Brunch or dinner — bet it would be delicious with ham or lamb!)
Color: Millenial pink, super light pink
Nose: Several of us got a sulfuric funk variously described (okay Dora said BO, Diane thought about newly smelly socks, I thought hot springs…)
Palate: Dora got a bit of root beer; apricot pit at the back of the throat; minerals on the back side give it a nice lingering finish. I loved the nice bright minerality and tasted a strawberry rhubarb. Not a lot of bread, yeast or brioche, but there is some.
Pairing: Dora loved the chicken sausage roll ups as a pair– the wine brings out a nice richness in the chicken, the nutmeg pops, then the minerality and fruit in the wine really works well. I liked the watercress tangerine salad as a pair because the watercress really liked the wine but the arugula overpowered it. The shrimp was beautiful with it. Lovely with the herbed brie; Dora felt it made the wine a bit dryer.
Gouguenheim – Malbec Bubbles – Rose of Malbec Sparkling Wine – 11.8% alcohol
Sue and I were at a wine event in LA, and we swung by The Wine House on our way to the 405. We picked up a few bottles including this sparkling Malbec thinking it would be fun for Malbec Day. I think we paid around $10 for it.
As the Wine Tribe gathered around, we opened and tasted the first bottle, and I prepared the second wine, this one for tasting. Right off the bat, I suspected it would be too sweet, and it would not show well against the Alma Negra or with the food we had prepared in anticipation of it being more dry. IF we’d paid more attention to the low alcohol, we might have suspected some residual sweetness… according to a tech sheet online, it has an RS of 6.2 which is significant!
Sue suggested that we set it aside and pair it with the dessert empanadas and saved the day!
The wine is from Valle de Uco, Tupungato, Mendoza, and grown in alluvial and sandy soils at 3600′ in elevation making the estate one of the highest in Mendoza. Grown in a desert climate with 320 sunny days a year and regular diurnal shifts of 50 degrees, vines get their moisture from melt water from the Andes. After finding and buying an old winery in the Uco Valley in 2002, winemaker Patricio Gouguenheim left finance for a life working the land. I look forward to trying more of his wines which are currently distributed in 15 countries around the world.
Color: Super pink, little orange, salmon, or rose
Nose: Floral sweetness, but not too sweet, white stone fruit, little bit of raneer cheery, The gang felt that it was like strawberry jam, it was very delicate, new guy found a little bit of citrus.
Palate: Delicate bubbles, rose water, nectarine, tangerine, the citrus is on the back end. Greg found grapefruit, I felt it was more like pomelo. There is a bit of a tang.
Pairing: It is so refreshing at the end of the meal. and with the Guava cream cheese Pastilios, this was so very fantastic.
One of our best dessert pairs ever!!!!
There was a beautiful strawberry characteristic in the wine that was brought when paired with the guava cream cheese empanada.
For Mother’s Day I want this wine and this dessert! I bet it would also go great with ham for Easter!
Happy World Malbec Day! Cheers!
PS If you missed World Malbec Day, no worries! The month of April is Malbec Month! Stay tuned for part two of this post where I present six more Malbec!