Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Malbec: Argentina's Signature Red

I came back from the first Wine Bloggers Conference in Sonoma this weekend and there was one thing I knew for sure: I didn't want to drink any California wine. I needed a change. I caught up on my mail and read the backed up blog posts in my RSS reader and inspiration hit: I was going to drink an Argentinian Malbec.

This inspiration stemmed from two of the people I met at the conference (though I've known them via the blogosphere and Twitter for some time now): David from the blog Vinomadic, and Philip James from the wine finder and keeper site Snooth. David lived in Argentina for a time (and always gives me good suggestions on what to drink), and Snooth just had a tasting dedicated to value Malbecs. I enjoyed talking to both of them this weekend, and that was enough to send me scurrying to the cellar in pursuit of an Argentinian Malbec.

The wine that I pulled out was the 2006 Finca Las Moras Malbec Reserva (sample; suggested retail for this new release is $12; you may find it or other recent vintages near you for between $7 and $12) This wine was a simple pleasure from start to finish, because it was made in an apologetically New World fruit-forward style, but with some sensitivity and restraint. Malbec is often described as fitting somewhere between Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon in the flavor spectrum, but what I always think of is plums--lots and lots of plums. The 2006 Finca Las Moras Malbec Reserva did indeed have prominent aromas of plum, leather, and vanilla. These aromas were echoed in the flavors of plum and spice, and there was also a nice meaty note that gave the wine some depth of complexity. Very good QPR for this wine brought into the US by Joshua Tree Imports, who are known for their good value brands such as Razor's Edge and Fetish.

I love lamb with Malbec, and so we had this with Lamb Chops and a tomato-and-potato gratin. If you are vegetarian, I highly recommend making the gratin, and having it with some meaty grilled portabello mushrooms instead of the lamb. Whether you go with meat or a meatless option, you'll find that the meaty, leathery aromas and flavors will get drawn out by the grilled food and the beautiful plum fruit will be a nice complement to the earthy potatoes and sweet tomatoes.

Thanks to David and Philip for helping me get inspired about wine all over again. See you next year at the Wine Bloggers Conference!


Taster B said...

:) My sentiments exactly! Taking a short CA break myself. I barely scratched the surface of David's wine knowledge in my brief conversation with him. Sounds like he's got some interesting projects going on.

Ryan Pyo said...

Hello! I am a beginner about wine. But, This wine seems to good. I had tasted Malbec one time. I believe wine is good food for health. I intend to learn about wine in detail, which bacomes popular in market in Korea. Many people like to enjoy it using 6 senses of human. Thanks again.

eltejano said...

After a few trips to Argentina, I'm a big fan of malbec, especially cheaper malbecs that I find when I get back (obviously they're cheaper down there but who wants to lug them back w/ our TSA rules . . )

anyway, another one to keep an eye out for is Weinert's Malbec- but it's barely under 20, it's usually $18 or $19 depending on the US/peso float.

But for more of a QPR, look for Weinert's Carrascal which is a malbec blend (K&L ~$10 or 11)


Tish said...

The plethora of Malbecs that over-deliver at their price points will help the cateogry grow like shiraz did a decade ago. I would encourage all Malbecophiles to also try some of the blends popping up. My fave is Clos de la Siete (a Michel Rolland production). Malbec, Cab and Syrah with gret intensity and balance; great for under $20!

D J R-S said...

Debs, thanks for the props, y're too kind. I wish I'd been more focused just before & during the conference & located some of partner Alberto Cecchin's wines to share-- as I left Mendoza last June, he had found a California import-ditributor, but Google & AbleGrape searches have proved fruitless in identifying who that is.

D J R-S said...

PS, you mentioned you'll be up around Mendo by Thanksgiving-- here's a tip for Holiday Wine bargains--
--including Greg Graziano's work with Italian varieties I brought up a while back.

c said...

I just tried an amazing new wine from Lujan de Cuyo, Mendoza, Argentina -- called Belasco de Baquedano Malbec. It's 100-Year Old Vine, but just introduced in the U.S., its website says ( I had the Llama, and there are three others (Swinto, AR Guentota, Rosa rose) all from the same Malbec estate. Have you tried this? What do you think? I was amazed at how low the price is, about $15 for the Llama.