Off the Vine: Malbec wines are full of flavor

October 31, 2012 

The popularity of Malbec wines is not surprising, given the inexpensive cost and consistent quality of the wines on the market.

The Malbec grape, along with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petite Verdot and Cabernet Franc are used to produce French Bordeaux. So it is not unexpected that someone like Michel Rolland, one of the top wine consultants worldwide with clients in more than 10 countries as well as ownership of several wineries in Bordeaux region of France, would search out vineyard land in the Uco Valley region of Mendoza, Argentina.

Once he located the perfect property, Rolland invited six prestigious Bordeaux wine families to join him in his endeavor of making a Malbec blend. The vineyard land that was purchased was divided into seven plots so that each owner is able grow their own grapes in their own style, and then all the grapes are contributed to a final blend.

The wine they produce is named Clos de los Siete, which translates to group or plot of seven. In addition, there is a seven-sided star on the label. Further, the current vintage -- 2009 -- is the eighth release for the winery.

The 2009 Clos de los Siete is deep garnet in color and contains noticeable, but soft tannins. The wine opened up nicely after about 30 minutes with the flavor of blackberries and blackcurrant, a favorite of mine. Interestingly enough, this wine is made with Bordeaux varietals and is comprised of 57 percent Malbec, 15 percent Merlot, 15 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 10 percent Syrah and 3 percent Petit Verdot. The Merlot adds

fruit flavors, whereas the tannins found in Cabernet Sauvignon add to the structure of the wine. Syrah is added to the blend for richness and the Petit Verdot adds to aging ability and dark garnet colors.

Although this Malbec paired nicely with a skirt steak topped with a chimichurri sauce, it will also go well with just about any type of roasted or grilled beef, lamb or poultry.

Since the Malbec grape is very thin-skinned, it needs much more sun than the Cabernet Sauvignon grape to be ready to harvest, but it does ripens earlier in the season. In general, the Malbec grape is inky dark purple in color with a skin that contains copious amounts of tannins.

There are many Malbec wines available that are a bargain in today's market, with numerous selections priced in the $10 to $19 range.

The 2009 Clos de los Siete is priced at the mid-point of this range. Next time you are out for dinner, try a glass of Malbec. You will be surprised at the flavors that are packed in the bottle.

Jim Rawe, a family attorney in Bradenton, is an avid collector of fine wines. His column appears weekly. He can be reached at jimrawe@gmail.com.

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