Though I knew it was World Malbec Day when I set out this morning for tastings and lunch in Sonoma, I hadn’t imagined that I’d get to taste any until dinnertime.
But through sheer luck, my friends Mimi, Diane and I, who were out exploring for the day, stumbled on a tiny tasting room in the Cornerstone marketplace, where Routes 121 and 116 meet.
We had just enjoyed a simple but delicious farm-to-table lunch at Park 121, which features local wines from this cool-climate Carneros region.
On our way back to the car, when we spotted the Meadowcroft Wines sign, we couldn’t pass up the chance to do some quick sampling – especially with the “Taste Our Double-Gold Malbec” sign out front.
As we bellied up to the Meadowcroft tasting bar, Elaine greeted us warmly and poured us each a generous taste of the Malbec, which had recently earned a “Double Gold” award at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.
A swirl, sniff and sip revealed a rich, medium-full body and tons of flavor.
We tasted dark berries and chocolate, a little spice, a whiff of smoke, a touch of vanilla from oak aging. Quite a lovely, well-balanced wine all around, and a really fine example of the varietal. In fact, if I’d been on the judging panel, I would have given it high marks, too.
But, you ask, what the heck *is* Malbec, anyway?
Well, just a few years ago, you would have been hard pressed to find any in the marketplace – except from Argentina, where Malbec is planted in profusion. Now, though, it’s making inroads into California vineyards, and it’s becoming much better known.
Originally, Malbec played only a small role in the wine world, primarily in Bordeaux.
Early ripening and frost sensitive, it historically has been mostly used as a blending grape, joining Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot in Bordeaux’ world-class reds.
But when it’s planted in warmer climates where it can flourish, Malbec develops mouth-filling, mouthwatering flavors and holds its own quite nicely as a standalone varietal.
Malbec is generally fuller-bodied than Merlot, and not as “green” as Cabernet Sauvignon, two of its better-known cousins.
It’s full of dark red and black fruit flavors – plums, cherries, berries – plus spice, leather, tobacco and more. Big and robust, and usually quite tannic, Malbec is not for the faint of heart.
But remember, since fat and protein in food grab hold of tannins (so the tannins don’t grab hold of your tongue) and make your wine taste mellower and easier to drink, you’ve got an easy fix.
Just grill up a big steak (the way the gauchos do on the Argentine pampas), nibble on some cheese while it’s cooking, and sip on some Malbec.
Why not try several while you’re at it (the price is sure right!), so you can explore a range of flavors and styles.
And if you like the stuff (what’s not to like!) keep looking for Malbec in the marketplace. You’ll find tasty, well-made wines for special occasions – and for “just because it’s Tuesday.”
Happy World Malbec Day! Enjoy it today – or anytime!
Until next time, my friends –
Cheers and happy tastings,
It’s the best way I know to help you make the foods *you* love taste even better!
Email me anytime at Rosina@DrinkWineWithDinner.com with comments or questions. I look forward to hearing from you!
Cheers once again,