What the Heck is Malbec?
Happy Friday, everyone! Malbecs have been making their way into my shopping cart lately. As I’m not entirely sure what the heck a Malbec is, or if I enjoy them, I thought I’d turn to my handy-dandy EVERYTHING GUIDE TO WINE by Peter Alig, the Wine Educator at Robert Mondavi Winery (or at least, he was when the book was published).
Peter says that Malbec is the fifth of the five noble Bordeaux varieties, but heck – the grapes are finicky in their native land of France, and usually fall ill to some disease or another which makes planting that grape a risky business, indeed. But apparently Argentina has taken up some of France’s slack, with California also sticking its toe into Malbec (eh – so to speak, lol). The Malbec grape is known “for its density, dark fruit, and backbone of tannins” according to Peter Alig. It’s also used primarily as a blending grape in France and California.
I managed to find two under ten dollars – let me tell you about them.
Don Miguel Gascon Malbec 2010 Mendoza, Argentina Alcohol 13.9% by volume $9.99 at Fresh & Easy Markets
On the Label: “Since 1884, the wines of Don Miguel Gascon have been recognized for the rich, smooth flavors that come from Argentina’s Mendoza wine region. High altitude vineyards situated along the Cordillera of the Andes Mountains produce full mature grapes for this classic Malbec. It is full bodied and elegant with soft, round tannins, layered with favors of blackberry, blueberry, dark cherry, and a hint of mocha.” Visit the winery here.
My Take: For me, this is a young wine. It’s still really bright, and the tannins are a bit harsh. I’ll be keeping an eye out for it, though, next year; hopefully that aging will have smoothed out the bite and kept the nicely juicy flavors.
My Rating: ~ Drinkable ~ But it’ll be better in a year.
Red Rock Winery Malbec Reserve 2010 Healdsburg, California Alcohol 13.6% by Volume Regularly $11.99; on sale at Vons for $8.39.
On the Label: “Inspired by the hand stacked rocks that help you find your way along a trail, RED ROCK Winery wants to inspire you to Find True Balance. Our winemaker believes that “Making a great wine is all about finding balance. It’s about fitting the fruit characteristics together in a harmonious way, so that no single element overpowers another.” In our Malbec, ripe berry aromas yield to fresh flavors of boysenberry, currants, and cherries creating a smooth wine that is truly balanced.”
My Take: Okay, I confess. Once I read that this winery is all about Find(ing) True Balance, I giggled the rest of the way through the label. If you drink wine, inevitably your balance will leave you at some point. Even a sip or two on an empty stomach (MAINLY for us FEMALES) can send you reeling a bit. So, yeah. That struck me as truly (unintentionally) hilarious. These people seriously need a normal person to check their writing. Just saying.
Oh yeah – about the wine. Young. Meh. Not bad, just nothing to get too excited about. If I’m drinking reds, I prefer Pinot Noirs or Zinfandels. So…maybe this will be better in 2013?
My Rating: ~ Drinkable ~ Note: Their website says that the 2009 was blended with other grapes for more depth. If you can find it, try that one first.
That’s it today folks. My back is killing me and I’ve still got edits to do. While you’re here, check out Demon Soul and the Caine Brothers Series page of my website – reviews are up, too.
Remember, this is all just my opinion and will be colored by how many political calls I’ve dodged, whether or not I’ve donated blood in the past week, and if my cat is meowing to be fed. Your taste buds will differ.
Thanks for stopping by – and remember to Drink Responsibly!