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Shannon Hurley
March 31, 2020 | Food, Wine | Shannon Hurley

Malbec, Not Just From Argentina

Malbec, the deep skinned varietal. You may think that most Malbec’s can only come from Argentina but today you will find many plantings grown all over the beautiful state of California. Not as often as consumed with its blending cousins Cabernet and Merlot, Malbec is a grape that’s not to be missed when drank on its own.


A little history about this amazing varietal. It’s often thought that Malbec originated in Argentina where it is widely grown but did you know Malbec actually comes from France? Many people associate Malbec with Argentina when in fact the grapes were born in the Bordeaux region of France. The main reason Malbec didn’t rise in stature in France was its susceptibility to disease and rot. In the mid-19th century, Argentinians went to France to find a grape that would bring up the quality of their wines. They came back with Malbec which has flourished in the Mendoza region of Argentina. For almost 100 years, Malbec remained an Argentinian wine. In the late 1990’s, Malbec began to be planted in parts of California and Washington State. Due to the long, arid growing season, cool nights and abundant sunshine, the Malbec’s of California are full of bright flavor and color.


Almost from the first harvests, California grape growers and winemakers discovered that Malbec could yield particularly stunning results. A typical Malbec is fruit-forward with flavors of dark purple fruit akin to blackberry, black cherry and huckleberry. 


Nestled from the prized Mueller vineyard in Carneros district of Napa Valley, the 2016 Faustini Malbec is made like no other. The grapes are harvested at the end of the growing season in late September. The grapes were hand sorted and went through a cold soak at 55 degrees to retain freshness. After a 10 day fermentation period the wine was moved to French Oak Barrels. 50 % new (for intense flavor) and 50 % neutral (for more moderate flavor). The wine aged in these barrels for 20 months prior to bottling.  With a deep garnet purple hue the 2016 Malbec brims with black plum, boysenberry and warm clove on the nose. The palate is smooth and medium bodied with lush supple tannins and bright acidity. Secondary flavors of black currant and dark chocolate dominate the palate followed by lingering notes of black pepper and all-spice.


What do I want to eat with this? Fire up the grill because this wine has me in the mood for a juicy burger! The burger I’m going to make actually calls for a little bit of the wine put into the meat mixture for a little extra flavor. Wait, did you say wine IN the burger? Yes I did, you’ll thank me later :). Atop the burger with some aged cheddar and braised onions, we have ourselves a trip to a steakhouse in our very own home. YUMM! Check out recipes page to see how I’ll be making this coveted wine burger, or should I say Malbec burger. Till next time oenophiles, cheers!

-Shannon Hurley, Certified Sommelier 


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