Malbec

Review: 2012 Etc. Malbec

When I think etcetera, I think of it as an aside, everything lumped in that category is not worth mentioning after some standout examples are thrown out first.

Now, this bottle of Malbec was a nice drink, but I would say it matches it’s name, it’s not THE BEST Malbec I’ve had and it may not be worth mentioning as the first example in a list of good, cheap Malbecs, but it is a sturdy wine that can hold it’s place during a weekday family dinner, especially if you have dark fruit lovers at the table.

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This wine is fruit-forward–dark cherry, perhaps?–and has a pungent flavor that lingers on your tongue, with a hint of plum and black licorice (which was nicely spotted by my other half).

It’s a very juicy wine that smells like flowers.

Nuts and Bolts

  • Winery: Etc.
  • Type: Malbec
  • Origin: Mendoza, Argentina
  • Price: $12, but gifted
  • Alcohol content: 13.5%
  • When to drink: When you’re in the mood for a red at dinner in the middle of the week that is happy to deliver without stealing the spotlight.

Review: 2011 Salentein Reserve Malbec

When I first saw the cork of the 2011 Salentein Reserve Malbec, I remember my first thought was: “Now that’s purple.” See:

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I bought the Salentein Reserve Malbec in the cutest little bodega in the Palermo neighborhood in Buenos Aires. After getting some brie, baguettes and green olives for snacking, I also asked the store clerk which was his favorite Malbec of the bunch on the shelf. He said this was his favorite in the medium-price category, so I grabbed a bottle to take home from my trip in my suitcase.

The wine–which is very dark in color in the glass, almost black– smells like perfume and alcohol, but in a good way. It warms your body up real fast, kind of like the feeling you get when sipping on a good glass of whiskey. You can feel the body of this malbec in your mouth; each layer is distinct. The wine has hints of blackberry and vanilla and the flavors linger on your tongue. This is a delicious, flavorful wine that tastes floral at the end.

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Only downside is it leaves behind a leathery feeling on your tongue, but not the kind of leathery that dries you out. In fact, the sensation is quite the opposite. The texture of the wine almost makes your tongue so dry it feels wet. My other half said he had to keep drinking more to get rid of the almost astringent feeling in his mouth. Although it took me aback at first, I grew to like the dusty flavor.

Nuts & Bolts:

  • Winery: Bodegas Salentein
  • Type: Malbec
  • Origin: Mendoza
  • Vintage: 2011
  • Price: $15 American
  • Alcohol content: 14.5%
  • When to drink: Now that I think of it, this wine would have been great with my little cheese and olive platter I created at the bodega. Can you just imagine sitting at a wood picnic table, munching on salty green olives and drinking this beefy in flavor Malbec. Yum.

Review: 2013 Trapiche Alaris Malbec

OK, I only have a few more Malbec posts from Argentina. So bear with me! I mean, you have to drink Malbec when you’re in Buenos Aires and we drank a lot.

Dialing back the clock a bit, we drank this 2013 Trapiche Alaris Malbec on our second night in Buenos Aires. It was actually our first try at Malbec on the trip and the journey to find it tested our resolve!

We started out the evening with craft beer and then headed to a 9:30 p.m. futbol game for a team my uncle wasn’t too happy we went to see. Buenos Aires has many soccer clubs, but only one game was on during our vacation and it was at the River Plate stadium, which is one of the biggest in the city. But most of my family are Boca Juniors fans, who rival River Plate, so they were disappointed when I told them my fiancee and I cheered for the team they detested. But for us visitors, all the teams were the same, so we didn’t mind.

1966720_10102350613628294_841957291_nGetting into the stadium was crazy. There were about 80,000 people crowding the streets, which had been closed off for security. Guys and girls were separated for security and nothing was allowed in: no Chapstick, no Purell, no lighters and one girl had to leave her favorite necklace behind that had a little tiny whistle–whistles are contraband. We went with a tour group to the game and I’m glad we did because you need club tickets to get into the stadium and it would have been quite difficult to figure out the security system and lines without our helpful guides.

The game was amazing. Spectators were bopping around and singing fight songs all night. There was a team band in the bleachers that led the songs and only home team fans were allowed in, so there was a sea of red and black shirts throughout the stadium.

After the game, we got back to the hotel after midnight and quickly dropped our stuff and went in search of a wine bar around 1 a.m. We didn’t know exactly what we were looking for, but earlier that evening we had passed by a street lined with shops and restaurants and figured that would be a good place to look. On the way we stopped and watched the tail end of a Carnaval event. So much pink! So many drums!

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Then we got lost on our way back to the restaurant street. Once we found our bearings though, all the restaurants were closed! I was so surprised because Buenos Aires nightlife goes deep into the morning. We were sad and defeated. I wanted wine! Despite the whomp whompiness of that moment, we decided to push on. I’m glad we did, because like an oasis in a dessert, a few blocks away we found a circular plaza lined with bars.

Too bad the Malbec menu wasn’t too selective–these weren’t fancy bars, so all the wines were pretty cheap. We ended up getting a 2013 Trapiche Alaris Malbec.

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Later my cousin told me the deep purple Trapiche was considered a so-so wine in Argentine and that’s how we felt when we drank it. But my other half and I still stayed out until the bar closed around 3:30 a.m. drinking the cherry-licious wine, talking and making googly-eyes at each other.

The Malbec had a warmness to it and left a dry, leathery feeling on your tongue. It almost felt like it was making my tongue sweat, it activated my salivating glands that much. It did have an alcohol tinge, which could have been from the quality or the youth of the wine. I mean it was a 2013 wine and we were drinking it in February 2014.

Nuts and Bolts

  • Winery: Trapiche Alaris
  • Type: Malbec
  • Origin: Mendoza
  • Price: It was probably about $9 for the bottle after conversion
  • Alcohol content: 13%
  • When to drink: I wouldn’t recommend buying this one, but it was fun to top off our night with a cheap bottle of Malbec amidst a crowd of bar-goers.

Review: 2006 Montecinco Malbec

Back fresh from my trip to Buenos Aires, I have several stories to share about the many Malbecs I consumed. Let’s start with a traditional tale and then I’ll walk you through my more spontaneous discoveries in future posts.

In search of a traditional steak dinner–I’d heard so much about how at the very best restaurants they cut steak with a spoon that I had to try this tender meat–my love and I ended up at Don Julio, on the recommendation of the receptionist at our very stylish hotel.

Wine bottles cover the walls at Don Julio in Palermo as white tablecloths dress the tables. There’s even a thin mini-table that sidles up next to each diner’s table to add a little extra elbow room. Classy!

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Flipping through the wine list, I wasn’t quite sure what to order. I have had many Malbecs before, but the familiar labels weren’t popping out at me. I decided to go with one of the oldest bottles on the menu, because, well I could never do that in my price range in the U.S., but in Buenos Aires, the exchange rate was in our favor. Like savvy travelers, we converted our money on the street-aka at the Dollar Blue rate–and got $12 pesos for $1, making everything extremely affordable, even a fancy steak dinner.

I ordered the Montecinco Malbec from 2006, which by the way is I think, the oldest vintage I’ve had.

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It was unlike any Malbec I had had before. It won’t wow you at first sip. This is a wine you have to sit on for awhile. At first, my dining partner didn’t like how thin the wine tasted, but it grew on him after the wine’s flavors developed over the course of dinner. The cherry red wine tasted of plums, currants and even cigarettes–it’s that dirty, smoky feel– and developed a bit of a tang after it sat open for awhile. I liked it, but if you’re looking for a chewy, fruity bomb, this isn’t it.

Nuts and Bolts

  • Winery: Montecinco
  • Type: Malbec
  • Origin: Mendoza
  • Vintage: 2006
  • Price: about 200 pesos, or roughly $16 with Dollar Blue exchange rate, $27 at the traditional rate
  • Alcohol content: 14.4%
  • When to drink: This wine is meant for meat. Drink it like we did, with a big hunk of Bife de Lomo (tenderloin) topped with chimichurri.

Review: 2008 Saint Felicien Malbec

In honor of my trip to Buenos Aires, I’m going to post a review of a Malbec my friend brought back from her recent visit to the land of tango and empanadas.

The boyf and I went over for drinks at her beautiful apartment to chat about what we should do/avoid when we travel to Argentina for a long needed vacation.

Obviously, drink a ton of Malbec was on her list of must-dos and visit La Brigada, a traditional Argentie parilla that has a huge wine cellar.

One of the wines she loved and had to bring back was a 2008 Saint Felician Malbec.

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The violet purple wine has a perfumy, flowery taste at first that rolls down your tongue with a dry finish. A dry, tobacco flavor stays with you for a long, persistent end. There were only 80 barrels of this limited edition wine made, according to the bottle.

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I’ll be gone for about a week and may not have a chance to blog while I’m on vacation. But when I get back, I’ll have lots to share about my wine experiences in Buenos Aires.

Nuts and Bolts

  • Winery: Saint Felicien
  • Type: Malbec
  • Origin: Mendoza
  • Vintage: 2008
  • Price: Unkown
  • Alcohol content: 13.8%
  • When to drink: This wine is meant for dark, candle-lit rooms and deep soul-revealing conversations.

Review: 2011 Bodega Navarro-Correas Malbec Collecion Privada

Malbec is one of my favorite wines. Originally a French grape, Malbec has become synonymous with Argentine wines as the country hosts most of the acres the purple fruit is grown on.

Malbec is usually a smoky, spicy wine that brings on the fruit flavors right away–usually cherry, plum, or blackberry. Some Malbecs can smell like blueberry if they’ve been aged in oak for a year or so.

The 2011 Bodega Navarro-Correas Malbec Collecion Privada is one of those. Forty percent of the bottle is aged in French Oak for 12 months, bringing on that blueberry smell.

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The Argentine wine seems to fill up your mouth, but it’s not overwhelming on the tongue thanks to its silky finish. It tastes like plum and has a violety flavor, which I felt left a perfume-like residue on my tongue, although I was the only one in the dinner party who sensed that. It’s not super complex, but it’s likable.

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Nuts and Bolts

  • Winery: Bodega Navarro-Correas
  • Type: Malbec
  • Origin: Mendoza, Argentina
  • Vintage: 2011
  • Price: $8
  • Alcohol content: 13.9%
  • When to drink: If you want to share a bottle of Malbec with a friend who is not a fan of smoky bold reds, pull out the Bodega Navarro-Correas Malbec to ease them into it. After that, bring on the spice and spend a few bucks more on Fournier Urban Uco Malbec/ Tempranillo blend ($10).

Hiking through deep snow to get wine

Remember that mile-long trek in the snow for wine I mentioned, well here’s the scoop on that adventure:

After playing many rounds of “Things” and “Cards Against Humanity,” we were running low on wine and vodka, so we decided to make a trip to the liquor store. The snow had piled too high to drive a car down the long driveway of our friend’s woodsy lodge near Zion National Park, where we spent the weekend, so we donned hats, gloves and boots and went on a liquor run by foot.

As our fearless leader pushed a shovel through the thick white blanket of snow to create a path, we passed cows, sheep and horses along the way.

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I even saw a snow-covered teepee for the first time.

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Finally making it to the liquor store, which doubles as a gift and sundries shop–I’ve always liked that word, sundries, it just has a certain elfish quality about it–there wasn’t much variety. There was a lot of Sutter Home and Barefoot Wines. I ended up picking up a 2011 Malbec by Bodego Navarro-Correas and a Tisdale Cabernet Sauvignon. Neither of which are really wines to write home about and both were overpriced by about double.

The Tisdale Cabernet Sauvignon was too watery for my taste. I felt like it was too open. It couldn’t hold its attempt at berry and plum flavors together, so the wine just fella part and  tasted like a glorified grape juice. But, it turned out to be perfect for Sangria! I’ll share the recipe in another post. Here’s a picture teaser:

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You’ll also have to wait until later this week for my review of the Malbec.

Malbec from India?

Yep!

A two and a half-hour drive outside of Mumbai lies more than a half dozen wineries in Nashik producing fermented deliciousness made from 25 grape varieties including Malbec!

According to a New York Times article published this week, the wine region sprouted up more than a decade ago when Sula Vineyards, the first one there, took root. Rajeev Samant, the owner of Sula Vineyards, originally planned to grow mangoes on his family’s land in Nashik, but he decided on wine grapes instead. Good choice! Although I do love mangoes!

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Sula Vineyards has grown substantially over the years, attracting 150,000 visitors last years, up from 5,000 when it first opened. Samant has added a large tasting room, a resort with an infinity pool and a spa. Now there are a handful of other wineries nearby, too.

What are some other off-the-beaten-path wine destinations? Let me know in the comments!

Thanksgiving Wine

When Wine Library, a discount wine retailer, asked its followers on Twitter which wines they were picking up for Thanksgiving, it got me thinking: which wines should I pick up for Thanksgiving?

One follower said she was eyeing a 2012 Pascal Pibaleau Rouge L’heritage D’aziaum. When I read that I had to shake my head and refocus my eyes a bit because of the long string of words, so I’ll be patient as you re-read it.

And, we’re back.

So what’s the deal with the Pascal Pibaleau Rouge L’heritage D’aziaum? It’s a blend of Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Gamay. Sounds yummy.

According to Wine Library, it is:

“With lots of bright red fruit, hints of earthiness, and a nice amount of acidity, the Pibaleau L’Heritage D’Aziaum is a versatile food wine, that will pair with chicken, pork, vegetable, and fish dishes.”

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Malbec, in general, can draw in pepper, licorice, coffee and black fruit flavors, while Cabernet France, can exude plum, blackberry or vegetable-like aromas, depending on ripeness.

At $16.98, it’s a stretch, but not a budget-buster.

Another tweep said she was grabbing Brunello di Montalcino. That wine is made from Sangiovese grapes that are grown in Montalcino, a hilltop town in Italy.  According to wine-searcher.com, the $19 wine is “known for its brilliant garnet hue and its bouquet of berries with underlying vanilla and spice. A hint of earthiness brings balance to the finest examples.”

With these suggestions in mind, I’m still thinking about going another direction: Beaujolais. Beaujolais wines can be easy-drinking, fruity and graciously play a supporting role without stealing the spotlight from the star of Thanksgiving: the turkey.

I’d recommend Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Villages. It’s a good value (last time I bought it, it was $10, but wine-searcher has it ranging from $10-$14). It’s light, fruity (think raspberry and plum) and I think it’ll please guests varying tastes.

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Here are some more Thanksgiving wine suggestions from the all-knowing internet:

What are your Thanksgiving wine suggestions?