Saturday, November 13, 2010

Malbec, Pampas Del Sur

A roaring fireplace, the rain beating down, and I have the house to myself!

     Time for a good bottle of Malbec and a good action movie, right? So as I was in a wine store today (odd occurrence), I just so happened to pick up a bottle of Malbec. So what do we know about Malbec?

     It is a varietal that likes the heat.  Thus it makes sense that the varietal originated in Southern France and thence emigrated to Argentina (and much later to the Okanagan region of British Columbia). Arid, dry regions feed this grape what it wants most; ripening mid-season it still has its sensitivities, but seems to be thriving in climates world-wide. Cahors is one of the only regions of France still cultivating the grape, and it is even making a re-emergence as a single varietal instead of just in the classic Bordeaux blends (although it is admirable in that endeavour).

     I have enjoyed Malbec in a variety of fashions; from single varietal to blend, from heat driven Cahors or Argentina to the relative softness of British Columbia and/or Washington. Malbec, is capable of great things. It is characteristically deep in color, like bruised plums or enraged violets, it tends to carry aromas of violets, especially from Argentina, and flavors of blackberries & mild tobacco.

2008 Malbec, Reserve Pampas del Sur
Mendoza, Argentina, 100% Malbec
14% ABV, $16 CAD (BC)
  • Visual:    fully intense ruby/garnet centre, with little rim (cherry color)
  • Nose:     moderate++ intense fruit driven aromas, followed closely by mild to moderate oak, traces of vanilla which lead me to believe American oaking, a touch of alcohol but relatively light for 14%, background of floral
  • Palate:     moderate++ acids (fairly sharp), moderate (soft) tannins, moderately intense flavors mimicing the nose with a heavy undertone of good cigar tobacco, moderate body, moderate+ structure
  • PAIRS WITH:  fat fat and more fat. Aggressive acids call for? Fat. Baked lazagna. Pasta Bolognese with an excess of Sprintz or Parmegano-Romano (the undisputed King of Cheeses). Like blue cheese? Try this with roast Anjou Pears and Bresse Bleu with toasted walnuts. The acids need fat, the fruit can handle some animal protein... perhaps even wild game? No, probably not - just a waste of good venison I'm afraid.

     So a decent burger/pasta/pizza wine, or a wine to bring out for your 19 year old brother/sister/date. They won't know the difference. But if your Dad comes over for a chat and a barbeque - spend another $3 and buy the Jean-Bousquet.


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