Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Malbec...It's The New Red!

Malbec has always been a favorite of mine to pair with a grilled steak, pork chop or tenderloin.  In general, it's priced very affordable and a great alternative red wine.  Originally from France and approved as one of 5 grape varietals allowed in Bordeaux, Argentina is now one of the largest producers of Malbec.  In California, it's still used widely as a blending grape with Meritage being one of the most popular blends.  I've posted a few Malbec wines on this blog yet never thought about how great the wine is especially for it's price point.  Here is a new one I just tried.

Elsa Bianchi Malbec  '11   $9 (World Market)
Mendoza, Argentina

With delicate aromas of dark cherries, ripe plums and blackberries, this wine revealed a dark fruit characteristic.  Deep purple in color, the flavors of black cherry and hints of spice made for a nice medium body taste.

It may come across as a young wine on the first taste but after letting it open up in the glass for 15 minutes, the tastes began to soften much like a more mature wine.  Hints of vanilla and subtle earthiness found on the finish really made this a great everyday red.  It's value is amazing and apparently Robert Parker gave it 90 points!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Cameron Hughes Lot 279, Cabernet Sauvignon '09 $20

Napa Valley, CA

While on the hunt for a relatively inexpensive yet good Cab, I was introduced to this at my local Whole Foods store.  I had just picked up a few NY Strips to grill and remembered that my everyday drinking collection was kind of slim on choices.

I hadn't heard of this wine and neither had Tommy who was working the bar that day.  (We're lucky to have one of the few wine & beer bars inside a Whole Foods store.)  So Tommy said we should try the wine as he was thinking about adding it to the bar for tastings and by-the-glass purchases.  He proceeded to open the bottle before I could say a word. The next thing out of my mouth, after the first taste left me a bit speechless...as it did him.  Wow, holly crap, this is amazing...probably a few things I remember uttering quietly as others watched on.

So now on to the bottle I opened for dinner.  The aromas at first had a hint of alcohol but diminished quickly.  Predominant smells of black currants, dark cherries, licorice and vanilla pretty much sum up this robust California Cab.  On the tongue, dark berries and soft tannins had this tasting like it was a $60 wine.  The finish is clean with hints of dark chocolate and toasted wood.

I'd recommend you let this decant or open up in your glass for 15-30 minutes.  It will definitely soften the higher alcohol found at opening.  This 2009 is ready to drink now and should keep for a few years to come.  If you can't find Lot 279, check their website for newer releases.  www.chwine.com

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