Message in a Bottle

When you think Malbec, what country immediately comes to mind? Argentina. And it’s true, they make some amazing Malbec.

But today, on this particular Malbec Monday, I’m sipping a kicky Malbec from Arizona: Caduceus Cellars’ 2013 VSC Malbec.

This offering is 100% Malbec from Deep Sky Vineyards in Cochise County, AZ. In order for Malbec to thrive it needs hot, dry days with cooler nights and little to no risk of frost or mildew. Considering that todays temps were topping 102F, there’s probably no frost on the horizon.

Aged 18 months in cask and puncheon (a short, portly 500l cask made from thick staves of American Oak) this Malbec rivals its Mendoza counterpart.

The bold, rich, deep flavors of black cherry, raisin, dark plum, cocoa, with a hint of black pepper, and medium tannin can stand up really well to red meats. But it can dial it back for lighter fair like pork and veal. It paired beautifully with our grilled fish with garlic brown rice.

The price point on this treasure is about $65 and is sold online as part of Caduceus’ exclusive Velvet Slippers Club.

It’s a good expression of the varietal, so don’t shy away from domestic Malbec from Arizona.

Message received. ☺️

Cheers! 🍷💋🍷

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Malbec Monday!

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It’s been a while for Malbec Mondays! But with it being a particularly snowy Monday here in the Cleve, I thought I’d check my cellar and to my surprise discovered a pristine 2012 Peninsula Ridge McNally Vineyards Proprietor’s Reserve Malbec. Most Malbec I’ve enjoyed is cultivated within the warmer climates of Mendoza, Argentina.  So I was surprised to find that a more northern winery was including this varietal in its reprtoire.

Peninsula Ridge is located in Southern Ontario, specifically the Niagara escarpment, snuggled within what’s known as the Beamsville Bench region. The Beamsville Bench is a somewhat small but excellent appellation that provides continuous air circulation ~ cooler breezes move in off of Lake Ontario, and circulate just around the foot of the escarpment. This works to keep temperatures moderate and leads to consistent growing conditions. Its slopes are mostly north and east-facing, with smaller streams running off the escarpment that serve as a dependable water source. The soil is a complex variety of gravel, sand, shale, sandstone and limestone, which you might think would give a heavy mineral vibe, and I have noticed that in some other varietals from this region. But this wine was very fruit forward with a low mineral taste.

Malbec is typically noted for flavors of:

  • black berry
  • black plum
  • clove
  • pepper

This Malbec is a terrific example of the above flavor profile. I noticed that it had medium tannins, and a nice creaminess. It is aged in new/ one-year-old American Oak, which gives an overall stronger flavor with increased vanilla and coconut. And it tends to give a creamier texture to the wine. Over time, tannins have a tendency to dissipate which might account for moderate tannin feel in this Pen Ridge offering.

So tonight, I’m staying inside in my pj’s, a good book, a glowing fire and a nice glass of Malbec. Not a bad way to start the week.

Cheers! 🍷💋

©The Wine Student, 2018

 

 

Malbec Monday ~ Glama Llama 

It’s human nature to gravitate to what is new; the newest car, shoe, or smartphone. But in the world of wine, it pays to revere the old.

How old is old? This 2015 Belasco de Baquedano Llama Old Vine Malbec is about 106 years old. And old vines have plenty of tales to tell. Namely, what the condition of the soil is, how well they have been tended from year to year, how strong their roots are.

Tried and True

Celebrating their 100th birthday in 2010, these vines began with good roots: they are clones (genetically identical cuttings of mother vines, selected for particular characteristics) of  the French black Bordeaux grape. Nestled at the base of the Aconcagua Mountains, warmer days are counterbalanced by cool nights (dipping down almost as much as 45degrees F) which works to heighten the richness and complexity of the  wine’s flavor and aromatics. The grapes are given even further ‘hang time’ to develop flavors, even after sugar levels indicate that ripeness has been achieved.

While there is scant rainfall in this wine growing region, irrigation is provided in its purest form by runoff (comprised of melted snow) from nearby Andes mountains.

Age Before Beauty

Old vine grapes are generally hand harvested, which is more gentle on the vines and grapes. The higher velocity shaking of machine harvesting can be more jarring to the vines. The wine is then aged at least six momths in French oak which gives qualities of subtle toast, nuttiness and softer tannins. The final product is soft yet structured, and luxurious with rich flavors of ripe blackberry, rich plum and spice.

About the Llama

In Argentina, the llama regarded as a sure-footed, strong, support worker animal helping transport  packages and supplies through difficult terrain. Stalwart but stubborn, if you load them up too much, they will not budge. And they might even spit in your eye if you diss them.

With Age Comes

…Wisdom! But also some spectacular wine. So respect the hard working, old vine, it’s toiled through the ages to produce a wonderful bounty for you to enjoy.

Cheers! 🍷

Malbec Monday: Amancaya Gran Reserva 


If I hurry I can get it in under the wire! I’m definitely tardy today– busy days mean that sometimes I can’t get my wine homework done.
Rushing to find my weekly pick, I discovered a 2013 Amancaya Gran Reserva Malbec | Cabernet Sauvignon.

A collaboration between Nicolás Catena an Domaines Baron de Rothschild (Lafite), this wine was clear, garnet colored, full body offering with medium-hi tannin. It had a delicate nose of cherry and rose and tasted of  bold blackberry, black plum with just a hint of bell pepper. While it was 2013, it began to open up to reveal a bit more complexity; it was a nicely balanced 50/50 blended vintage.

Putting the Grand in Gran Reserva 

Gran Reserva  is a frequent term used on the labels throughout Spain to define both quality and style. In Spanish law there are labelling terms that indicate the minimum periods of ageing the barrel and the bottle. It is traditional practice to age wines for long periods of time in oak barrels and then in the bottle before it’s released. Therefore, Spanish produced vintages are usually older  than those from other countries.

On the label you’ll find one of four terms that indicate the levels of age. In order of increasing age:

  •  Joven~ wines bottled the year following the vintage for immediate release, and indicate wines that haven’t  been aged in oak for the minimum of time to be considered Crianza. $10-15
  • Crianza~ one year in oak– one year in the bottle. $15-20
  • Reserva~  one year in oak– two years in the bottle. $25+
  • Gran Reserva~ two years in oak– three years in the bottle. $35+                             Gran Reserva wines are produced in only exceptional vintages, and the best of these are beautifully complex.

So now when you look for Malbec, you’ll know what to look for on the label to get the most complex and flavourful offering. After all, age ain’t always just a number; it’s time spent in the barrel and bottle.

Cheers! 🍷

Just Another Malbec Monday: Fabre.Montmayou🍷

When you’re learning about wine, part of the journey is the wine lexicon: flavour/aroma characteristics, nose, palate and so on. Before my WSET Level 2 wine course begins in a few weeks,  I took a peek at the wine tasting ‘cheat sheet’ that distills the various descriptions and classifications of characteristics of wine. It’s incredibly helpful since I don’t always feel confident yet in how sophisticated my palate is, much less how I describe wine.

This week’s pick: a 2013 Fabre.Montmayou Reserva. From the first pour, I noticed a bouquet of dark cherry. The colour was clear with a ruby vibe, with a light viscosity after the swirl. Flavours were of stewed plum, liqourice, and light tobacco. Any spice I tasted became more prevalent after I paired it with a salty, light cheese. I thought I tasted cinnamon but it was savory, not sweet (the cheat sheet describes it as ‘pungent’) so I’ll go with it. 😄 It seemed to me to have medium tannin, meaning that it didn’t make my mouth feel too dry, not as dry as, say,  a Cab Sauv.

This was a very pleasurable wine that would pair well with cheese, grilled meats or poultry. Retailing for below $20, it would be a great wine to bring as your +1 to a dinner party or barbecue.

It’s been said by many a sommelier, the more you drink wine, the better your palate will become. I think in the next few months (of studying, of course!) mine should eventually earn an A+. 😉

Ah well… it’s just another Malbec Monday!

Cheers!

©TheWineStudent, 2017

Malbec Monday! 🍷

So, Monday. We meet again. But like that spoonful of sugar, a glassful of Malbec will help the rest of the week go down… a bit easier.

This week’s pick is a 2012 Domain Bousquet Reserve Malbec. Located in the Andean foothills of Argentina, this vineyard is cultivated at an altitude of 1,200 meters (4,000 ft) above sea level; one of the higher altitude vineyards notonly  in Mendoza, but in the world. Since there is a low amount of rainfall at this height, a drip irrigation system is used allowing better hydration control, and producing grapes with a lower PH resulting in a more balanced, deep colour wine.

Made with organic grapes ~ 85% Malbec, 5% Cab Sauv, 5%Merlot, and 5% Syrah, the nose was very lush with a pronounced fruit forward vibe of black currant preserves. It felt more tannic than acidic on the tongue. Once the  wine had a little time to open, it developed a slight bitter almond taste that was quite pleasant as well as an interesting espresso-tobacco-hazelnut quality when paired with room temperature Brie.

I enjoyed this wine but couldn’t help think that a little more decanting would bring out much more of its depth.

Still, not a bad way at all to kiss the first day of the work week goodbye.

Cheers! 🍷

©TheWineStudent, 2017