A ridiculous purple-blue-ruby, dark as night with a minuscule clear edge. Rich fruit-forwardness with a sash of oak reach out from the glass, black currant and sweaty towel lay a foundation for the strawberry lollipop and heady plum. Plentiful air settles everything down into a flat-out BEAUTIFUL red wine–not a strange variety, not a funky mess, not an oak-bomb–some mint creeps in under the elegant fruit and lays the stage for a balanced, polished red wine.

How do you like your malbec? How many different ways are there? It’s not quite as pronounced as cab-franc, say, or even chardonnay. Or Petite Sirah for that matter. Malbec is subtler in style differences than that. All the brash, tinny Cahors sit on one side, laughing at the poseurs from Mendoza with their armpit hair and oozing oak–and then you have California. What do you do with California? I wish I had a dollar for every tasting room I’ve been ready to leave when someone says, “Oh, and we have our Malbec open.” I love Cahors–and there are DEFINITELY values to be had–but let’s not fool ourselves: It’s NOT Bordeaux. I’ve had a few South American’s I like–but typically my enjoyment threshold kicks in at about the $100 mark, which makes me frown at myself. California Malbec is rarely cheap too–it is often so special in the winery’s quiver–and what of style? Here’s the question: Is there anywhere in the world that makes Malbec that tastes like California Malbec? I don’t think so. CA becs run clean, sometimes very fruity, sometimes elegant and polished. This one kinda straddles that line.

In the mouth, so fun to drink. Flat Dr. Pepper and spritzy tonic water lay a massive citrus-cherry bed for tiny briar and ample acid to lay on, warming the icy sheets for a tannin that *almost* gets lost in the sweet fruit. But it’s there. Juicy Fruit and Jolly Rancher and Good & Plenty back up the ever-expanding bouquet. This is Malbec at its truest California interpretation.

2015 GRATVS Malbec Napa Valley 14.8


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