Join the Celebration Weds April 17
In anticipation of Malbec Day Weds. April 17, Annie AnyDay, Ima Zinner, ChamPan, and I gathered on my sunny deck to taste four 2011 Malbecs: 2011 Trivento Reserve, 2011 Ruta 22, 2011 Conquista, all from Argentina, and from Chile, Concha y Toro’s 2011 Casillero del Diablo. (Reviews below).
As Malbec and Malbec blends now account for almost half of the entire Argentinean wine category in the U.S., you’d think my first Malbec crush would be one from South America.
But the first Malbec that made a memorable impression and wowed my palate was actually a barrel sample from Basel Cellars that I tasted while on a visit there during the 2010 Wine Bloggers Conference in Walla Walla Washington.
I still remember clearly the lush blueberry that flooded my palate, and even now, I desire to repeat that experience. The following year when I re-visited Walla Walla, I found myself driving by the impressive gates of the even more impressive Basel Cellars estate, but unfortunately the tasting room was closed…and we were on our way to Oregon so I have yet to taste this Malbec in the bottle (and, btw, Steven Tanzer awarded 89 Points to the 2008 Chelle Den Millie Malbec which retails for $32).
Malbec grapes on the vine in the Cafayate wine region of Argentina. This pic also demonstrates the trellising vine training used with drip irrigation system running along the bottom. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
According to the folks at Creative Palate, in the 1860s, Malbec was brought from France to the foothills of the Andes Mountains in Mendoza, Argentina where the constant sun and heat helps thegrape to achieve optimal ripeness; Malbec thrives in the hot, dry weather and high elevations of Mendoza creating a typically ripe and lush wine with smooth tannins.
Malbec has also found suitable terroir on the other side of the Andes in the consistently hot and dry Rapel Valley of Chile.
Please join me in raising a collective glass to toast this newly “discovered,” newly beloved versatile and delightful varietal–regardless of where it comes from North or South America! Follow along with the fun on twitter by searching and tweeting using #MalbecMadness!
Casillero del Diablo (The Devil’s Cellar) $12
This is for the secretary—on a Friday, says Ima Zinner (who supports her wine habit with a very important city administrative position!) We’re back wearing that pink fuzzy cowgirl outfit, but this time we’ve got the whip out!
Let the devil out! A little time in the glass goes a long way toward getting more complexity and depth out of this wine. Black pepper on the nose. Big glass with a big bowl, but don’t fill it up—so it can breathe. Did we drink this whole bottle?! Let’s talk about the finish. I’ll promise you this, I’ll promise you that, but it is devilish in the front. Laugh and type and drink. ChamPan is a God! He is in charge of the wood fairies. OMG! It doesn’t smell like pepper now, it smells like cranberry and blueberry. Colorful blanket that you put on with your big spurs (yikes!) and you eat fresh fruit & veges—it’s all coastal,, just like us! Concha Y Toro is biodynamic, sustainable & organic. Pan has pellets.
Drinking this wine we came up with ChamPan’s wine blogging name because we started talking about the Devil, and some say that the Greek God Pan became the Christian Devil. Pan is associated with the nymphs, shepherds, spring and fertility and of Love; ChamPan is our Divine Devil.