I took the time during quarantine to really enjoy my favorite wine varietal, Malbec. Following the doctors’ orders, I had a glass everyday. 😉
Argentine Malbecs are know to have a rich balance of acidity and tannins, making them a crowd pleaser. A few characteristics are a deep red or purple hue, fruit-forward, and aromas and tasting notes of plum, dark fruits, mocha, oak. It should be drank slightly cool.
Even though Argentina is the most well known country for this intense red wine, the thick-skinned grape originated in France. Since this grape has a poor resistance to weather and pests, it never flourished as one of France’s top varietals. It instead found a new home in Mendoza, Argentina; where it was first planted in 1868 by a French agronomist. Argentina has reinvigorated Malbec, as it has over 75% of all the acres in the world.
Food pairings: umami lovers! (thank you Wine Folly for this great list)
Meats: dark meat poultry, lean red meat, beef brisket, duck, chicken leg, lamb, beef, game meat. Spices and herbs: parsley, thyme, rosemary, porcini powder, smoked paprika, black pepper, cumin, coriander, juniper berry, clove, vanilla bean, garlic, shallot, green onion, barbecue sauce. Cheese: funky and rich soft to semi-firm cow’s and goat’s milk cheeses. Vegetables: mushrooms, roasted vegetables, green and red bell peppers, potato, arugula, kale, chard, grilled endive, onion, beet, tempeh, lentils, black beans, forbidden rice.
Malbec’s producing countries are Argentina, France, United States, Chile, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand.
Malbec loves high elevation areas with hot days and cold nights.
I usually have my go-to Malbecs, however for this post I decided to try something new. I bought the High Altitude Wine Package from Bunbury Miami (this package, as well as other wines, is available for take-out in their market. If you haven’t been to Bunbury you need to go asap!). https://www.bunburymiami.com/
Antucura Calcura 2013 – Bordeaux-style red blend of malbec, merlot, and cabernet sauvignon. This is a 90 point wine from Anne-Caroline Biancheri’s winery located at 3,445ft above sea level in Vista Flores, Uco Valley, Mendoza (2013 was actually a good vintage for this wine). This wine is deep red, very smooth, wonderful viscosity, full body, with aromas of prune, fig, mocha, licorice. Very drinkable, with tasting notes of oak, ripe red fruits, chocolate, tobacco, syrup. Our opinion: Paired well with bites of sopressata and gorgonzola.
San Pedro de Yacochuya 2015 – predominantly malbec and cabernet sauvignon blend. The Michel Rolland and Arnaldo Etchart winery is located 6,700ft above sea level in Cafayete Valley, Salta. Deep dark ruby red in color with low intensity to the nose; red and dark fruits, vanilla, cassis, slightly smoky and earthy aromas. On the palate you can taste notes of dark fruit marmalade and soft touch of oak; very enjoyable and easy to drink. Our opinion: Paired very well with a slice of apple, iberico cheese, and truffle honey.
Colomé Estate Malbec 2016 – our fave of the three. This is a 90+ point wine, blended from four estate vineyards to achieve the best expression of Malbec; aged 15 months in French oak barrels and 6 months in the bottle. These vineyard are La Brava, El Arenal, Altura Máxima, and Colomé, located in the upper Calchaqui Valley, Salta. Bodega Colomé, now owned by Donald and Ursula Hess, is one of the oldest (1831) and highest Argentinian winery (at 10,207ft above sea level). Intense in both color and taste. Aromas of dark purple fruits, vanilla, spice. Tasting notes of dark ripe fruits, oak, cassis, chocolate, and jam. Our opinion: Paired very well with goat cheese and/or prosciutto on rosemary crackers.
Hint hint: I tried the wines a few hours after opening and also the day after and they were delicious! Of course, letting the wine breathe will not work for all wines, however it certainly did for these.
I do have to say this was a very enjoyable afternoon. It’s a great idea to open up your senses and have fun at the same time. With everything that is going on these days with covid-19, you can have a virtual wine tasting via zoom with family and friends. Nowadays it’s easy to find aromas and tasting notes online for the specific wines you would like to try. You’ll be surprised what difference people can smell and taste.