Tag Archive | "malbec"

2007 Smasne Cellars Malbec

Robert Smasne’s wines  have garnered a lot of good press over the past couple of years – he has a good knack for sourcing quality fruit and not dinking with it too much. This is great for folks like me who have a profound appreciation for wines that stay relatively true to the terroir.

Malbec has exploded in the world of wine in that time as well and for food reason. It’s very fruity, has really nice flavors and generally goes great with food as well – especially meat dishes.

Technical Data:

  • Varietal – 100% Malbec
  • Vineyard – Phinny Hill
  • Appellation – Horse Heaven Hills
  • Aged 28 months in 100% French Oak
  • Price:  $35

Nose: Black cherries, blackberry pie filling, pepper, spice and a splash of clove and black licorice.

Taste: Deep black fruits that come thining thru with a hint of peppered venison jerky. Good mouthfeel, tannin structure and overall finish make this an easy malbec to keep going back to.

Conclusion: I’ve had equal quality from Argentina Malbecs for $20 – so for me, it’s kind of a tough sale at $35. Having said that, I understand why it’s priced the way it is – it’s from small production and the cost of fruit is more up here in WA as well. If you want a quality WA malbec and like supporting the “home-team” then give this one a whirl.

W.E.P. Rating: 85%

On the web: http://www.smasnecellars.com

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A pair of Argentina Reds from Septima Winery

There’s no question that Argentina – as a wine producing region – is on fire and that has mainly been because of its successful malbec wines. Due to a variety of reasons such as cheaper labor, land and grape prices, you can often find wine from Argentina are far superior quality-per-dollar than other leading regions.

2009 Malbec:

W.E.P. Rating: 90%

Technical Data:

  • Composition: 100% Malbec
  • Vineyards: Valle de Uco, 1100 m.a.s.l., Agrelo 1050 m.a.s.l.
  • Oak aging: 6 months in American oak barrels.
  • Analytical Data
  • Alcohol % v / v: 14.
  • Residual sugars: 4.90 g/l.
  • Total acidity tartaric: 5.15 g/l.
  • Volatile acidity in acetic: 0.48 g/l.
  • Color: Intense red with purplish highlights.
  • Price: $12

Nose: Plums, cedar smoke, tanned leather, cocoa, cinnamon and clove with a hint of blackberry.

Taste: I get a good mix of blackberry and plum-pie filling right off the bat – this is very fruit-foward, new-world style malbec. Decent tannins and overall mouthfeel, however, the finish is a bit too short for me – overall not a bad wine for the money.

2008 Cab:

W.E.P. Rating: 80%

Technical Data:

  • Composition: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Vineyards: Valle de Uco, 1100 m.a.s.l.
  • Oak aging: 6 months in American oak barrels.
  • Alcohol % v / v: 14.2.
  • Residual sugars: 4.03 g/l.
  • Total acidity tartaric: 5.17 g/l.
  • Volatile acidity in acetic: 0.60 g/l.
  • Color: Deep ruby red with mahogany shades.
  • Price: $12

Nose: Spiced cherries, top soil, leather, sea foam, chocolate, roses and tar.

Taste: The top-soil effece and tar come on really strong at first and then lead way into a spiced-cherry frenzy. Decent mid-palate, however, the tannins are sort of weak for me and it always doesn’t finsih near as strong as I’d hope for. Not a bad effort at all, however, there are far more interesting cabs out there.

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2008 Gifford Hirlinger Malbec

Family-owned and operated Gifford Hirlinger resides right on the border of Washington and Oregon on well-named Stateline Road near Walla Walla. Its winemaker, Mike Berghan, loves what he does and if you ever get the chance to talk to him, you’ll see the passion teaming from him.

His family started the winery several years ago and have enjoyed a good amount of fanfare, awards and it’s no surprise. His wines tend to do a good job of reflecting the Walla Walla terrior without breaking the bank as many wines of that region tend to do.

Mike uses estate-grown fruit which means he has superior working-knowledge of the vineyard management and that helps help in making wines that don’t get in the way of the terrior coming through.

Technical Data:

  • Case Production: 342
  • Varietal Composition: 79% Malbec, 14% Cabernet Sauvignon and 7% Tempranillo
  • Barrel Aging: 18 Months
  • Oak Program: 40% New Hungarian Oak, 60% Neutral Hungarian Barrels
  • Price: $26

Nose: Spicy plums and blackberries have a date with a touch of cedar box and spice. Lots of dark, spicy fruit on the nose here.

Taste: Inky plumsauce with spiced blackberry jam on top. Good tannins, a touch of vanilla and dark chocolate. Really nice finish that lingers nicely.

W.E.P. Rating: 90%

Winery website: www.giffordhirlinger.com

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2007 Righteous Red and Righteous Malbec – Review

Winery website: www.sweetvalleywines.com

It’s not too often we get the chance to see an up and coming winemaker from his/her humble beginnings – on the path to “wine rock-stardom” – this is the case with Sweet Valley Wines’ own Josh McDaniels and his team. Still fresh out of college, Josh’s zeal and passion for his wines is as clear as his witty and fun attitude on life, which I think is refected very much so in the wines he makes.

Sourcing the best fruit he can get his hands on from Walla Walla and Columbia Valley means that Josh is like the fat-kid in a candy store with a go-pass – except his liquid candy helps improve our lives. While there are pro’s and cons to sourcing fruit vs. estate (I get it, really) – I do think that for most smaller wineries having the flexability of multiple vineyards is a bonus.

Sweet Valley’s Righteous-series wines are more value-priced, QPR (quality-to-price ratio) -driven and are priced in such a way to help the winery get its products out to a larger audience and it makes sense in today’s economy.

2007 Righteous Malbec – W.E.P. Rating: 85%

Technical Data:

  • Vineyard Source: Alice Vineyards at King Fuji Ranch on Wahluke Slope
  • Alcohol: 14.1
  • Cooperage: 18-months in 500 liter puncheons – French and American oak
  • Cases produced: 92
  • Price: $16

Nose: Red vines licorice that’s been doused in white pepper, cherry soda and some blackberries and cinnamon stick.

Taste: Cherry blossom, apple core, black peppercorn, bosch pear (I know and odd one in a red wine), tobacco leaf, rose petal. Excellent mouthfeel, lingering finish – a no-brainer of a Malbec for the money.

A very youthful wine that honestly would do well to sit in the bottle another year or so – very tight tannin structure with good fruit forward action. A solid effort from a young winemaker which should please those looking to try a decent alternative to the infamous Argentina malbec commotion.

2007 Righteous Red Wine – W.E.P. Rating: 90%

Technical Data:

  • Coulmiba Valley (80% Walla Walla Valley)80% Merlot, 16% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Syrah, and 2% Petit Verdot
  • Vineyard Sources: Forgotten Hills, 7 Hills, Arete Vineyards and Alice Vineyards
  • Alcohol: 13.6%
  • Cooperage: 18-months French and American Oak
  • Cases Produced: 792
  • Price: $12

Nose: Eucalyptus-laced plums, black cherries, drakkar men’s cologne, dill, anise, gym sock, burnt almonds.

Taste: Cherry coke, white pepper, cacise, rhubarb, black pepper, cherry-flavored cough syrup. Good general mouthfeel with tight, young tannins. This wine will be better in the next year or two – it’s very youthful right now and a fun dinner wine or party-time red.

Posted in Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Reviews, Washington WinesComments (0)

$10 and under Wine Recommendations

So I’ve been trying a lot of different wines lately and purposely trying to step away from my comfort zone of Washington Wines and have really started taking a more serious look at other countries for some alternatives and to taste the various regions in what they have to offer.

For awhile I was caught up into the whole price thing – as if somehow the price of a wine will make it taste better. Sure there are great wines at prices well above $25 dollars but who can afford to drink those on a daily or weekly basis? That really got me started on this path I’m on now to find some of the best wines possible for $10 dollars or under. Yes, they do exist and I’m trying my best to help weed out the crappy ones on both yours and my own behalf.

When you get time, you should read this article that talks about how the price of wine can influence people into thinking a wine is good or bad:

I’ve been on a virtual world-tour lately of wine which branches from Italy to France to New Zealand to Argentina and have found there are some really great values out there which deserve your attention.

Here are my tops picks right now:

– 2005 Naiara Malbec – Argentina – $9
From the country of Argentina which is currently selling for about $9 bux here at the local Fred Meyer who recently got it in. If your favorite store doesn’t have it, you should see if they can order it or seek a store out which has a wine steward in it and I’m sure they can order it.Malbec is a grape varietal from the Bordeaux region of France which unfortunately is mainly used for blending purposes and is rarely made as a straight-up bottle of wine. It has a thicker skin than cabernet or merlot grapes and does extremely well in the growing conditions of Argentina. In fact, you could say that this varietal alone is really putting Argentina on the map of the wine world and they’re doing some tremendous things with it.

As these wines catch on we’ll see the prices start to slowly climb with demand so make sure to get in early on the wave of excellent Malbec wines from this region.

There’s some tobacco components coming through on the nose along with dark plum, a slight hint of vanilla, soil, cinnamon and smoked paprika. Mix that up with a very slight hint of sweaty arm-pit and you have an intense aroma that is very pleasant.

This wine will pair VERY well with any hearty pasta and red sauce dish or veal. I’d also have no problems having it with Meatballs and fresh parmesan cheese. It has an incredibly rich purple color to it and is very pleasant on the nose. I would even drink this wine with a spice-rubbed, grilled flank steak using Cayenne pepper, salt, pepper, paprika, cinnamon and garlic powder.

– 2006 Cavatappi Sangiovese – Mattawa WA – $10
Forget any pre-conceived ideas you may have about affordable Sangiovese wine because the flavor of this scrumptious wine tosses out the rule book (and burns it to be never found again) on what we’ve come to expect from so many of the Italian-style Sangiovese wines. Rather than having the bright fruit on the palate like so many wines of this heritage have, this one tastes like an old sock left out in the mud for two weeks, filled with wet cedar chips. I like it!

Dark, earthy notes of this wine make it an obvious choice for fall stews and hearty soups. I’d have no problems pairing it with beef stew, pot roast and rosemary, roasted garlic mashed potatoes and even braised lamb shank. If you want to stick with the pasta, I’d go for ricotta-cheese and veal-stuffed ravioli with and herbal-infused red sauce and grated truffles. (you could substitute any good, “earthy” mushroom here if you’re on a budget such as cramini (baby Portobello).

– 2005 Robertson Winery Chenin Blanc– South Africa
If you’re interested in tasting other parts of the world then you owe it to yourself to seek this wine out. Here’s a white wine that has some really good structure, balance and acidity that make it a shoe-in for shellfish or fresh-water trout.

Unlike most American-made Chenin Blanc I’ve had, this one has a ton of mineral deposit flavors in it, almost like sucking on a rock from a crystal-clear river in the Mountains. Balance that with some good fruit on the mid-palate, floral fragrance on the nose and you have the makings for a great wine that will surely delight those who enjoy seafood.

– 2001 Bosco “R” Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Italian Red Wine – Italy – $9
Okay, so here’s a wine that completely blind-sided me and it’s from Costco of all places – No I can’t pronounce the name very well but who cares? You could call it anything but late to dinner. If you want a bold wine with TONS of flavor of dark plums, deep red, soiled cherries with a slight hint of oak, than this is your wine. It has a scrumptious mouth-feel – very velvety – and the finish is quite long.

I would easily pair this with any kind of meats which have been stewed or braised in red wine and of course any red-sauced pasta dish. This wine will hold up VERY well to incredibly rich dishes as well and on top of that, it’ll also compliment all sorts of grilled, hearty meats. Grilled corn on the cob with a bit of charring on it, dirty rice, roasted potatoes with Rosemary, oregano and Extra Virgin Olive Oil would make great sides.

Again, this is my opinion – you should really try this wine for yourself and as always – embrace your own palate.

Posted in Chenin Blanc, Italian Wines, Reviews, Sangiovese, South Africa Wines, Washington WinesComments (0)

What are you waiting for? Try an Argentina Malbec already!

This note goes out particularly to those California Wine-Snobs – you know who you are – the folks who are somehow convinced you can’t get a truly good wine for under $40 dollars. Hey, it’s not my fault that Napa wines are generally a rip-off and it’s not my fault that Argentina can make killer wines for dirt-cheap.

I’ve been drinking quite a number of Malbec’s (Argentina’s darling grape varietal) lately – all are well under $12 bones – and they’ve got me excited and worried at the same time.

Why am I worried? I worry anytime a foreign country can potentially cost American jobs because they can compete at a lower price point.

Why am I excited? Because the consumer in me and my palette tells me that there are some incredible values coming out of that region which really do deserve your interest. They can produce a bottle of wine for around $1-2 USD and have it sold at retail up here for $9. American producers –namely those in the more expensive areas of California – could have an incredibly difficult time competing at these prices because the wines are so good.

Looking at the way wine market trends go, if you don’t stock up on these wines now, they will eventually go up in price. As Argentina continues to rise in popularity, you’ll see the prices start rising as well. What you’re paying $10 buck for now, will sell for closer to $20 in a few more years.

I’m super excited about Argentina Wines, and highly encourage you to seek some out. Please don’t take my word here, trust your palette and as always try many wines as you can!

2006 Bodega Septima Malbec:
This wine has an incredible nose of black licorice, fig newtons, blackberries and a slight hint of white pepper. The finish on this wine is quite long and brings a lot of pleasure with it. Wine Speculator gave this an 86pt rating, I feel that’s a bit low – I’d be more inclined to go 89+; if I were into the ratings game – Decant for 30-60min.

Pairs incredibly well with Pot Roast served with Bread-crumb-crusted pasta and brown Gravy made from pan drippings. I’d also have no problems pairing it with any hearty fish like a cedar-plank salmon with a Tarragon Aioli. The licorice notes of the wine would clearly go with the licorice-flavors of the tarragon.

2005 Trivento Select Malbec
The nose here has some good hints of vanilla (thanks to the French oak), some black cherry and dark plums. Like the Bodega, the finish is great and there’s good fruit across the front and mid-palette. There is a nice spicy component going on here and I’d definitely have no issues at all pairing it with many South-of-the-border inspired foods.

The buttery consistency of Guacamole’, for example would go very well with this wine – we had it the other night with some “taco stew” (think taco flavors in a slow-cooked, stew format) and topped it with Sour Cream, Guacamole’ and a touch of hot sauce.

Pairs incredibly well with Pot Roast served with Bread-crumb-crusted pasta and brown Gravy made from pan drippings. I’d also have no problems pairing it with any hearty fish like a cedar-plank salmon with a Tarragon Aioli. The licorice notes of the wine would clearly go with the licorice-flavors of the tarragon.

Posted in Argentina Wines, Malbec, ReviewsComments (2)