Posts Tagged ‘full bodied red wine’

Malbec. Tango. Steak.

Posted by Debbie

Tuesday, April 17th, 2018
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I confess.  I have a glass of big bold Malbec red wine from Argentina beside me while I write this article.  What. A. Fabulous. Place.  The wines – both red & whites.  The steak.  The landscape.  The history.  I have told everyone since my trip that if you have the opportunity, jump on a plane and GO!

Argentina holds many mysteries.  Before I embarked on this trip, I did not know what to expect. I did not expect that I would learn about the wine industry while riding horseback in the Andes Mountains.  Nor did I expect that I would be touring the wine regions in a classic Citroen ‘Slowkar’ that was nearly the same age as me! I did not expect that I would be treated like a rockstar at one of Argentina’s largest wineries – Zuccardi Valle de Uco.  I did not expect that most days breakfast with coffee would cost more than a delicious steak dinner.  I also did not expect to see couples dancing tango under a tree that has been the meeting spot in Beunos Aires for over 300 years. And never did I imagine that the blue skies would dramatically turn into a hail and rain storm that pelted down so hard that collapsed the roof in the Buenos Aires airport.  Click here to see my travel photos >>

“Come and visit me at my winery anytime”.  Those words was all that I needed.  When Jose Zuccardi, Owner & President of Familia Zuccardi invited me to his homeland over a 3 hour lunch when I met him at the Vancouver International Wine Festival, I knew that this was a business card that I was going to keep.

The name Zuccardi may ring a bell, and so it should.  Like Yellow Tail and Jacobs Creek, Zuccardi’s wine – FuZion – quickly became a household name in Canada when it WOWed everyone of its quality as well as its incredible price of $7.45.  It still to this day baffles me the economics of how a bottle of delicious Malbec-Shiraz red wine can be made in the southern hemisphere, travel the world by boat and still land in my hands for less than $8.

 

“Malbec is Argentina’s emblematic grape because it is like a friend who will never let you down” – Edgardo del Pópolo, Argonomist

 

Winemaking in Argentina has a deep-rooted history.  For over 400 years, various grape varieties were grown for domestic consumption.  In the 1960 and 1970s Malbec wine was jug wine that was considered rustic.  Winemakers focused on quantity production not quality. This all changed in the mid-1980’s when famous consulting winemakers – Paul Hobbs from California, Michel Rolland and Herve Joyaux-Fabre from Franc, Roberto Cipresso and Alberto Antonini from Italy – recognized how they could dramatically adjust the existing winemaking processes to craft fine Malbec wines that could compete on the world stage. With their Midas touch, Argentinean Malbec took the world by storm.

Wines of Argentina reports that by the turn of the 21st century, there were over 1,500 wineries. Swiftly, Argentina has become the main producer of Malbec, with vines covering with nearly 40,000 hectares, compared to its neighbour Chile with about 6,000 hectares, France 5,300, South Africa about 4,000, New Zealand 80 and California has barely 45.

This stat is particularly interesting as Malbec originally stemmed from France where it was grown as a grape typically used for blending. The name Malbec was attributed to the French ‘mal bouche’ translates to ‘bad taste’, referring to the rustic characteristics of the grape that was used in small proportions in wines with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. It is amazing how a ‘bad thing’ in France, eventually turned into an incredibly good fortune for Argentina.

In 1852, Malbec vines were brought to Argentina by Michel A. Pouget, a French agronomist who was hired by the Argentine government.  Less than 10 years later, the phylloxera bug decimated and destroyed the majority of the European vineyards (hit especially hard was France) and Malbec instantly disappeared.  The silver lining though is that half a world away, this grape variety was alive and flourishing. Today, with the popularity of Malbec, French winemakers are buying back Malbec vines from Argentina.

Taking a sip of my wine beside me, this Malbec wine begs for a BBQed steak, hearty stew or grilled mushrooms. Most are full bodied and heart warming – great for winters and BBQ seasons.  Winemakers in Argentina are experimenting different styles of Malbec wines to make it a wine to enjoy year round.  I have to admit, while in Argentina, temperatures soared to 38C and for me, a cold beer (not wine) was the best reprieve.

Winemakers are experimenting in every way to Malbec grapes be on everyone’s lips while they are in Argentina.  “Would you like your Malbec chilled?” we were asked at a bistro in Mendoza.  My Spanish is limited but I knew I heard the question right.  Fresh Malbec is a new style of young red wine that has not been aged in oak barrels and best enjoyed within a year.  Chilled like a white wine, this new way to drink Malbec is intended to quench the thirst as a cold beer does on a hot summer day.  “We are trying to encourage this style of wine so that people continue to drink red in heat,” explains Panos Zouboulis winemaker Bogeda Krontiras, one of the few certified biodynamic wineries in Argentina.

Visit a wine shop in Argentina, you will find shelves overflowing with Rose wines of all shades of pink made from Malbec grapes.  White, rose and red sparkling wines made with 100% Malbec are plentiful too.  This style will rapidly grow and take the world by storm with international companies such as Chandon (France), Codorniu (Spain) have established operations in Argentina and bring their talented sparkling winemakers with them.

Sweet late harvest and fortified port style wines and spirits like grappa are made with Malbec. Even Blanc de Malbec crafted by Vincentin Family Wines has turned heads when they launched in 2014 the first-of-its kind white wine made with 100% Malbec and aged in oak barrels. I would have jumped at the chance to try a white Malbec.  When you are at the LCBO or SAQ, periodically these rare Malbec wines are exported, so be on the look out!

 

Raise a glass to the rise of Malbec

Today – April 17 – is Malbec World Day.  Established in 2011 by Wines of Argentina, this is the day in the wine world when we uncork countless bottles of Argentinean Malbec wines at special wine events in over 70 cities around the world.

You can have your own Malbec celebration!  Here’s some of my top picks of Malbec wines at the LCBO:

 

Zuccardi Q Malbec 2013
$19.95

This is a classic expression of Malbec. Deep and dark in colour with violet, blueberry, blackberries aromas wafting from the glass. On your first sip, there is evidence that the wine has soft tannins, juicy black fruit, black pepper tastes with a little dark chocolate on the finish.   Uncork this Malbec to enjoy with a herb encrusted pork tenderloin or Sunday roast beef with all the trimmings.

One of the things that impressed me when I visited the winery was that they are using concrete tanks rather than the typical stainless tanks commonly used in winemaking.  And there are only a few oak barrels in the cellar….the winemaking team focuses on creating wines to bring out the natural flavours without the help of oak. That is incredible and the result is pure and outstanding.

 

BenMarco Expresivo 2014
$39.95

This wine will draw your eye to its stunning label.  A topnotch blend of 80% Malbec, 20% Cabernet Franc, loaded with fruit – pomegranate, boysenberry, ripe & juicy blackberries.

Made by one of the top female winemakers in Argentina –  Susana Balbo – this medium to full bodied red wine has a long dark chocolate and coffee finish can be enjoyed with the full range from meatloaf to prime rib.

Versado Reserva Ancient Malbec 2012
$59.95

You might think that Malbec is a wine that is typically under $25, but you’ll be pleasantly surprised when you splurge on this one.  A group of renown Canadian winemakers and winery owners joined forces to purchase a vineyard with plantings of 100 year old Malbec vines. Winemaker Ann Sperling (who is head winemaker at Southbrook Vineyards in Niagara & from Sperling Vineyards in British Columbia) makes incredible Malbec wines with the grapes that she has salvaged from this old vineyard.

This wine was just released. Wine writer Tony Aspler sampled a pre-release bottle and scored it an impressive 93 points: “Dense ruby colour; spicy, floral, blackberry nose with vanilla and cedar notes; medium to full-bodied, dry, ripe blackberry and blackcurrant flavours with a mineral thread and a lively spine of acidity; silky mouth-feel finishing firmly with a chocolate note.”

 

This article appeared in the March/April 2017 issue of Ottawa Life Magazine

 

Travel photos of Debbie’s trip can be seen on Savvy Company’s Facebook page – click here>>

 

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If I died & went to Napa…

Posted by Wayne

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012
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I think the more you learn about wine & the more you swim in the overwhelming waters of today’s wine culture, the more you search for the beacons of “best choice”, the wine areas & vintages that take the trepidation & guilt out of the simple act of choosing a bottle of great “vino”.
 
Many of the realities of choosing wine, like quality, price, style, integrity…get down to the game of “Who do you trust?”. Personally, I get tired of this game. That’s when I start dreaming of wines I’d like to experience…the “killer” wines that my palette knows are out there, but that I’ve never had, don’t know about, or can’t afford.
 
Fortunately for me, I am in a position to experience some of these wines that come from California and Oregon & this is the purpose of my If I died & went to Napa blog – to share these experiences with you.
 
Twice a month, I will share one “dream” wine by featuring a Napa winery, their wines & winemaker. Along the journey, we will uncover some of the pleasures and mysteries of Napa and its neighbours. 

 

Introducing my first “To Die For” wine…

CADE Estate Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 2008, Napa 

 At an elevation of 1700 feet, CADE Winery, located on the East side of the elusive Howell Mountain in Napa, produces 4 wines under the direction of Winemaker, Anthony Biagi,  in its state of the art Organic facility: 3 Cabernet Sauvignons and 1 Sauvignon Blanc. Howell Mountain is one of, if not THE, altar for pilgrims in search of the Colossus of ‘Cabs’ to be found in Napa.

Cade was established in 2005 after its older sibling, Plumpjack Winery was born in 1992. The principals were three entrepreneurs:

  1. Gavin Newsom – former Mayor of San Francisco
  2. Philanthropist Gordon Getty
  3. and its present General Manager – John Conover

 

CADE Estate Winery - winemaker Anthony Biagi

Anthony Biagi (in photo), the Lead Winemaker, arrived on the scene making wines on Howell Mountain in 1995 as a Graduate of University of California (UC) Davis. Anthony’s philosophy of creating “… artisanal, dimensional wines … tasting like they could come from nowhere else”, combined with Cade’s mantra of creating wines that are “…dense, rich and ageworthy, but not rustic or tannic” spawned the pleasures of wines like Howell Mountain Estate 2008.
 
Napa’s terroir has become legendary since Stag’s Leap’s 1973 Cabernet won the Judgement of Paris in 1976 . Weather conditions notwithstanding, Napa has been blessed with three geological conditions that contribute to the rich conditions of its soils: it has been on the floor of the ocean, the mouth of a river and the base of a volcanic mountain. What this means is that the soils are capable of providing good drainage and soil oxygen, an appropriate range of acidity to facilitate the availability of nutrients like P, K, Mg and Ca. As well, moderate to good water retention, moderate fertility and a reasonable rooting depth complete its almost perfect profile. Elevate this 1700 feet skywards toward the Sun Gods and you have an excellent foundation for creating  World Class Wine.

What are these conditions capable of? 

“A brilliant texture, stunning purity and great length (that) make for a fabulous wine to drink over the next 20 to 25+ years.” Robert Parker on Cade Estate Howell Mountain  (Dec. 2010)
 
Dark, creamy, layered, intense and long are the essentials of Cade Howell Mountain Estate. Opaque dark purple, it exhibits a nose of blueberries, black raspberries, ripe plums, graphite and crushed rocks. These flavours are warmed and carried over to the palette, embellished by dark chocolate, vanilla and sweet smoke.

Restaurant Menu Matches for CADE Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 :

(Pairings courtesy of Ridgway Bar and GrillNaples Florida)

-Appetizer-
Crisply Seared Pork Belly (with Cider Reduction, Apple and Fennel Slaw)

– Mains-
Coq Au Vin (Baby Root Vegetables, Rich Red Wine and Demi-Glace Sauce)
OR
Braised Short Ribs (Pureed Celery Root, Cranberry Demi-Glace)
 
-Cheese Course-
Rogue River Blue Cheese and Greens (Julienne Apple Salad, Olive Oil and Fig Jam, Focaccio Crostini)
 
-Dessert Course-
Chocolate Opera Cake
  
The complexity, finesse and diversity of Cade HM Cabernet 2008 makes wine choice simple as it will transport you through all Course choices with elegance and satisfaction, each pairing delivering a different experience.

Rackability (aka cellaring notes) 

This wine is drinkable on purchase. Its intensity and balance are in no way affected by its youth.
 
As Robert Parker has indicated, aging is not a problem so to consider it part of a collector’s portfolio for future use is an easy decision to make, especially considering its desirabilty and limited production. The 2006 vintage which had a 98+ ranking like its heir the 2008, sold out quickly. 

Investment potential?

This all depends on Cade Winery’s ability to move into the integrity level of Harlon or Chateau Montelena in the next 5 to 10 years. It presently retails for about $150 US/bottle. Certainly, the wine will accrue in value, but how much depends on continued levels of production, excellence and recognition.
 
Cade’s website http://www.cadewinery.com  is worth a look. Here you will find how it is linked to its sibling Plumpjack and how both wineries are linked to Shakespeare. More on Plumpjack later!
                                                                    

Cheers… and follow your dream wines!
-Wayne Walker

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