Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Captivating Malbec

Malbec was once an integral part of the Bordeaux blend. These days Argentina rules Malbec, especially from the Mendoza region. These rich, deep, intense wines are perfect for cold weather by-the-fire nights. They are intended for pairing with the thickest of steaks and hearty stews. A chewy baguette, a nutty aged cheese and a glass of Malbec is a perfect wintry supper. Best of all there are so many affordable options. The most obvious is probably Catena. Here is an example of a winery that produces a high end expensive wine along with an under $20 weekday option. But also look out for Ben Marco, Doña Paula, and the spectacular Achával-Ferrer.

Malbec generally has a rich bittersweet chocolate quality with black currant and plum notes and often a peppery finish. As Argentina has been influenced by international winemakers, the wines have become increasingly approachable. Although there are those who miss the rustic quality of the originals. If that is you, don't forget the Malbecs of Cahors.
The Cahors region in Southwest France is the ancient home of Malbec. These are dense, chewy wines with bracing tannins and earthy black plum flavors. Try one of these wines and picture yourself in a Medieval dining hall with elbows on the planks and the hunting dogs slavering below in the rushes. Okay a bit much but you get the idea. Haul out your game recipes. Santé!

Trashing Parker

A holiday gift, finally read, Jonathan Nossiter's "Liquid Memory: Why Wine Matters" is worth your time if you're a true wine geek. There is techno-talk and jargon, name-dropping and inside scoop galore. Nossiter made the film "Mondovino" in which enologist Michel Rolland is depicted as a chuckling raconteur who proclaims "Micro-oxygenate!" at every one of his clients' wineries. This is Nossiter's first book and he gives it his all...all his condescension. He is erudite, very well educated, an international citizen. His vocabulary is enormous. Yet with his totally dismissive view of established wine journalists, such as Mr. Parker, he reveals his own foibles. He doth protest too much. While many would agree with him on the unfortunate "Parkerization" of wines, his vehement denouncement is so off-putting it makes you want to cheer for Parker. Having said that, it is a passionate testament to the importance of purity, terroir, and integrity in winemaking. Mr. Nossiter just needs to find a bit of humility.