One evening several weeks ago I was rummaging around in my wine cellar looking for a bottle of wine to drink that evening and I came across a bottle of Three Clicks Malbec from Napa made by Bruce Devlin, one of our winemakers. I hadn’t had any Malbec recently so it quickly became the “wine of the evening.” Malbec is a wine we all should all drink more often.
What is Malbec?
Over the past few years Malbec has become one of the most popular red wines in the American wine market. Malbec is a red grape born in France where it was (and is) used primarily as a blending grape in France’s famous Bordeaux blends. In France’s Cahors wine region it is produced as Malbec wine. Although the grape is grown in a number of other countries, it is better known as the flagship varietal of Argentina. Today Argentina produces more Malbec than any other country and has more than 50,000 acres of vines planted. France also comes in as a top producer with 15,000 acres of vines. In the U.S., California has some 8,000 acres planted with Malbec vines.
What does it taste like?
Malbec is a thick-skinned red grape. The grape produces a dark, inky red wine. The flavor profile is typically medium- to full-bodied that is semi-dry to dry. Most Malbec wines are acidic with relatively high tannins and alcohol levels. On the nose and palate you’ll typically have hints of deep, rich fruit flavors such as blackberry, black cherry, plum and raspberry. In fuller-bodied Malbec you might discover smoky or earthy flavors on the finish. Malbec from warmer climates may have lower acidity and this could cause them to be less full and perhaps taste flabby. Unlike Cabernet, Malbec doesn’t have a super long finish.
Malbec Food Pairings
Malbec is definitely a red-meat wine. Medium-bodied, young Malbec pairs well with smoke-cured beef, burgers, spaghetti and meatballs, steak fajitas, beef burritos and chili con carne. Heavier, full-bodied Malbec (with alcohol levels over 14%) pairs well with heavier, less lean, red meats such as fattier steaks, barbecued meats, lamb, pork, braised beef and flavorful sausages, as well as lighter cheeses such as goat cheese and rich, soft to semi-firm cow’s cheese. Malbec also pairs well with vegetables such as mushrooms, roasted vegetables, potatoes, and green and red bell peppers as well as many other heavier vegetables.
My Malbec Tasting Notes
2013 Three Clicks Malbec:
Three Clicks wine is produced by our Glenwood Cellars Wines winemaker Bruce Devlin at the winery in St. Helena, Calif.
Bruce says that the Malbec grapes were harvested from the Massa Vineyard in the heart of Yountville. The fruit was hand-harvested and destemmed (stems removed from the grapes) and placed in a one-ton bin. The must (freshly crushed fruit juice containing the skins, seeds and stems) was punched down by hand two to three times per day during fermentation. The skins were pressed off after 10 days and the clean juice was barreled and aged in neutral and 30% New French Oak barrels for a period of 14 months.
Winemaker’s Comments: Our Malbec has aromas of black cherry, blackberries, plum, raspberry, graham cracker and toasted oak. There are hints of chocolate and cola. The flavors on the palate are of chocolate covered strawberries and cherries. The wine has a very full body, with expressive tannins. An intense Malbec that finishes silky smooth with flavors of raspberries, caramel and dark chocolate.
I found the nose to be tight in the beginning with not much aroma. As the wine set in my glass for 15 minutes it began to open up and throw off hints of dark fruit and leather. The palate was fruit forward with hints of chocolate and some earthiness on the finish with mild acidity and tannins.
The wine received a 90/100 point score from Robert Parker and costs on average $39.00 per bottle. It is mostly available online.
2016 Cepas Privadas Limited Edition Argentinean Malbec:
For an inexpensive wine I found the wine to be decent. The color of the wine was a bright red hue with aromas of red fruit, especially strawberries, on the nose. This is a young wine so it was a bit tight on the palate but was fruit forward with notes of red berries. The finish was a light to medium cherry finish. The wine is light-bodied with high acidity and mild tannins. Overall this is an acceptable wine for its price at $12.69 per bottle. It received a score of 3.3 stars out of 5 on Vivino.com.
2014 Achaval-Ferrer Finca Bella Vista Malbec:
On a recent trip to Argentina our good friends Andrew and Cindy Carpenter purchased this bottle of wine for me while on a winery tour. Achaval-Ferrer is a wine producer based in the Uco Valley in the famous high-altitude wine region of Mendoza, near the city of Perdriel Mendoza.
The wine was a bright medium ruby color. On the nose there were aromas of dark fruit and some earthiness much like crushed stone or graphite. On the palate the wine was very pleasant with notes of plums, dark fruit and a hint of tobacco. The finish was well balanced with a nice dry silky mouth feel and a good length.
The alcohol level was 14% and this wine was rated at 94/100 points by Wine Enthusiast magazine. The wine sells online at a price of $83.00 per bottle up to $121.00 per bottle. This wine should drink well for another 5 to 8 years. I would highly recommend you try this wine if you have the opportunity.
If you don’t enjoy a more robust, full-bodied red wine, then Malbec may not be for you. Pick up a couple of bottles to taste the next time you are at your wine store.
July Wine Dinner
Our next wine club dinner, with a German theme, is planned for Wednesday, July 24, 2019, at LEX 530 Metropolitan Event Center in Elkhart. Cost is $85 per person. Check out the menu here and then buy your tickets here.
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Until next week,
Calendar of Events
- August 1 – International Albariño Day
- August 4 – National White Wine Day
- August 18 – International Pinot Noir Day
- August 29 – International Cabernet Day
- September 20 – International Grenache Day
- November 7 – International Merlot Day
- November 14 – International Tempranillo Day
- November 20 – International Zinfandel Day
- December 4 – Cabernet Franc Day
- December 20 – National Sangria Day
- December 31 – National Champagne Day