Sunday, April 11, 2010
Source: San Francisco Chronicle | Lynne Char Bennett.
Malbec – once a grape used primarily for blending – became more mainstream a few years ago with more imports, particularly Argentine Malbec. Malbec from the Cahors region of southwest France has a longer track record (see Thirst, Page K8), yet isn’t as widely known.
Lately, however, there is a growing appreciation for this approachable, relatively low tannin, dark berry-fruited wine, good for red meat-driven fare but flexible enough to make the wine list at vegetarian places like San Francisco’s Millennium Restaurant.
At the same time, Argentine Malbec is being produced by more U.S. winemakers, from Paul Hobbs’ high-end Cobos ($175-$200) to 3-liter Black Box (averaging about $6.25/750 ml). Most are priced under $20.
Argentine Malbec’s consistent style, value, drinkability and increasing visibility might help it become this decade’s Merlot.
2007 Belasco de Baquedano AR Guentota Lujan de Cuyo Mendoza Malbec ($25): This complex wine is made entirely from fruit from the estate’s 100-year-old vines. Ripe berry perfume, spice and hints of moist earth, with plenty of barrel character and tannin. (Importer: Wine Warehouse)
2008 Colomé Valle Calchaqui Salta Malbec ($25): One of Argentina’s oldest working wineries. Coffee bean, pepper and baking spice underscore the bright, bold berry that is ripe without excess. Well integrated; (Importer: The Hess Collection Winery)
2008 Crios de Susana Balbo Mendoza Malbec ($15): Youthful nature. Blackberry jam, cinnamon, spice, hazelnut and touch of soil meld with oak, coconut and hints of bacon. Firm tannins. (Importer: Vine Connections)
2008 Dante Robino Mendoza Malbec ($15): Grapes for this estate-bottled wine are from vineyards in the foothills of the Andes Mountains. Intense aromas of ripe dark berry, spice, coconut; subtle fruit on the firm palate, with slight mineral and cocoa on the finish. A less fruit-forward style. (Importer: Tri-Star Marketing)
2008 Finca Decero Remolinos Vineyard Agrelo Malbec ($22): This bottling is a bit lighter-bodied, with Syrah-like berry fruit, ripe plum, pencil lead, spice and whisper of green bell pepper. (Importer: Vintus)
2007 Finca La Linda Lujan de Cuyo Mendoza Malbec ($11): Fresh sweet berry underscored with hints of smoke, tar and spice. Different. (Importer: Gaucho Imports/Testa Wines of the World)
2008 La Posta Cocina Mendoza Malbec ($15): Blended with fruit from several growers, this everyday bottling merits a place at the table. Lighter-bodied, with mineral, berry compote, subtle herb and coconut. (Importer: Vine Connections)
2007 Tiza Mendoza Malbec ($18): The 220 acres of estate Malbec include some of the original vines, which were planted in 1912. Layered aromas and integrated flavors of just-ripe berry, cherry licorice, spice and menthol, evolving nicely in the glass. Balanced – good acidity and structure. (Importer: Kysela Pere et Fils)
2009 Valetin Bianchi Sensual San Rafael Malbec ($12): Established in 1928 by Italian patriarch Valetin Bianchi, this entry-level bottling offers aromas of straightforward black cherry, caramel and a whiff of fresh ginger. Tart fruit palate with gentle tannins and sweeter berry on the finish. (Importer: Quintessential)
Lynne Char Bennett is a Chronicle staff writer. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article appeared on page K – 7 of the San Francisco Chronicle
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