2016 Malbec by Cella Wines, Kingman, Arizona

Tonight’s Occasion: 2016 Malbec (Private Reserve) by Cella Wines, Kingman, Arizona.

Clear intense color. Out of the bottle a fairly bold, aromatic nose dominated by ripe fruit, red berries, touch of honeysuckle. This creates a sweet cherry cola prominence. Faint herbal notes, eucalyptus comes to mind. Swirling vigorously, this bold fruit dissipates ever so slightly as a dusty rocky earth pulls forward.

Nose is a bit misleading. Body is like a medium to light, almost crisp. Bold ripe fruit characteristics are further accentuated by barely noticeable oak. Thin crisp unobtrusive tannins lend good structure. Herbal notes carry over but move further back. Faint barely noticeable banana peel, usually a play between ripe fruit and minerality. Body is somewhat restrained overall and quickly fades. A firm, white pepper emerges as it transitions to finish leaving the palate fairly dry and tingling with spice.

This is my first wine from Arizona! Since this lesser known region was brought to my attention, I have been wondering how it this possible? Just like Texas, specific terroir, topology and high altitudes have made this niche possible. This brings some serious hang time and it shows in the fruit expression. Coming from California, this wine shows more like a Grenache from the Sierra Foothills with even more intense fruit. It’s very interesting to see how various varietals express themselves in different regions. I very much look forward to seeing what owner/winemaker Micah does with his Estate Malbec in coming vintages. Thank you Micah and the crew at Cella Winery for sharing this with us!

2019 Catena Zapata Malbec Argentino, by Bodega Catena Zapata, Mendoza, Argentina

Tonight’s Occasion: 2019 Catena Zapata Malbec Argentino, by Bodega Catena Zapata, Mendoza, Argentina

Deep, dark, intense, semi-opaque color. Out of the bottle notes of slightly under-ripe dark plum contrast with butterscotch. Secondary notes of damp old dead wood and underbrush. Swirling vigorously unlocks slightly ripe dark cherries and a licorice so faint you’d likely miss it. Fruit essence intensifies.

Body is balanced from to back. A slightly thick body greets the palate immediately with intense dark plum. A punch of buttery oak elevates and softens this intense plum while momentarily ripening the fruit. Fully integrated dusty fine grained tannins are suspended throughout the body creating an omnipresent structure that lends a certain weight. The grain is so fine, they remain suspended, never precipitating. White pepper hits the palate midway along with a brief acidic punctuation. A fully integrated melange of every note dances upon the palate, slowly fading into the shadows until all that’s left is remnants of intense dusty tannins, hint of cola, lime zest, and a warm spice heat past the back of the palate. As you progress, more and more tannic dust coats the palate as it slowly reveals its brutish old Vine characteristics.

This is an interesting Malbec. Bold, fairly dry, good balance, faithful with good terroir expression. Great execution. The story behind this wine, it’s origins and inspiration. I have to give my brother credit for finding this wine. Like many of the wines he’s brought me, this one prompts further exploring. If you stumble across this Malbec, it should present a great excursion for the intermediate to advanced palate. Bien hecho amigos!

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2017 Malbec (Reserve – Tallent Vineyard) by Becker Vineyards

Tonight’s Occasion:  2017 Malbec (Reserve – Tallent Vineyard) by Becker Vineyards, Texas Hill Country.

Deep red semi opaque color. Bright nose with bright almost crisp berries, cherries and a touch of damp wood. Swirling vigorously unlocks a burst of sweet cherry cola, subtle red vines licorice, and more damp woody leather. As it breathes the damp wood turns dusty. Interesting. I’m used to Malbec being dark, opaque and having more of a plum expression. This nose reminds me of big Pinot from the Sonoma Coast. It’s actually fairly subtle for a Malbec.

Body greets with a slightly acidic attack. Tart cherries carry over, adding a crisp, fairly restrained tannic structure. Midway through a tropical note appears. The only thing that comes to mind is banana peel. It’s very subtle but unmistakable. It adds a buttery, softening characteristic to an otherwise fairly dry body. This slowly dissipates leaving behind an almost minty/herbal cola and a slightly moist palate as it all quickly fades away. A faint spice tingle lingers long after.

I don’t think I’ve seen Malbec this restrained before. It certainly is an interesting wine. It is well made and feels representative. I’m curious to know how much of this expression is due to location and how much is the Winemaker’s influence. I will have to explore their other wines to glean more insights.

TWO HOURS LATER: this Malbec comes to life with a firm dry massive tannic grip on the finish along with more pronounced minty bitter cola, star anise, and creamy tropical notes in the body. This Malbec definitely gets my recommendation. This is a must try!

Nicely done Becker!

2017 Malbec Reserve by Polynesian Girl

Today’s occasion: 2017 Malbec Reserve by Polynesian Girl, Somerset, CA

Dark opaque plum color. Thick, warm, weighty nose is a little shy out of the bottle with plum up front. Swirling vigorously releases a subtle crisp oak caramel/vanilla followed by an equally subtle star anise. As it breathes, it’s granite underpinnings start to reveal themselves. Very fain herbal notes linger in the distant background.

Body is firm. Bold acid greets the palate along with equally bold, broad, weighted dark plums. This creates a thick slab-like structure that permeates the entire experience. Crisp oak dances around the palate while granite, anise and blackberry create a thick almost viscous integrated mouth feel with an unmistakable albeit restrained Bacon Fat. Body and finish are one monolithic expression, culminating in a dry palate with a fine grained dusty tannins, a firm grip and a slightly restrained spice heat that lingers well after the fact.

The reserve is the first free-run off the press. I must say, I think this is how this wine was really meant to be. It has such a poised personality this young. I can’t help but wonder where it will be given another 5 years or so. This Polynesian Girl’s work has been lingering on my list for a couple years now. This is the kind of winemaker I love. So far off the beaten path, toiling away at their life’s dream, making little hidden gems. From Vineyard to bottle, Tatiana’s mastery shows here.

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WineSnob Calendar: Malbec Day

Did you celebrate Malbec Day? My good friend Shelly stopped by to help out. To celebrate we explored two Malbec wines from opposite sides of the world.

Have you had Malbec before? What are your favorites you’d like to see featured on WineSnob? Let me know in the comments below.

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2018 Minuit by DeLille Cellars

Tonight’s occasion: 2018 Minuit (French for Midnight) by DeLille Cellars, Woodinville, WA

70% Malbec, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, Yakima Valley

Deep dark as midnight. Out of the bottle, nose is slightly shy, warm, with a healthy dose of ripe plums and blueberries which only intensify when swirled. A faint caramel butterscotch lingers in the back. Terroir is expressed in the form of a dusty silty leather, so subtle it could be missed. A faint anise makes an appearance in the distance. I briefly picked up very faint herbs. I like it! This is clearly a Malbec, very nicely complemented by Cabernet Sauvignon. After about an hour, the Anise is more intense and pronounced.

Body is absolutely gorgeous! Not as heavy as the color and nose would suggest. Balanced from front to back. It begins with a suggestion of acidity while ripe plums and blueberries rush in to balance it out. Slightly restrained tannins provide great structure while a very clean oak expression softens the edges, creating a clean plush mouth feel. This act quickly vanishes, giving way to thin blackberry and cola as it transitions to a finish characterized by crisp, dry tannic grip and a warm spice that descends down into the chest. There is a subtle freshness rendered on the palate like a mint-eucalyptus. My lips a left dry, yet moist. After an hour the tannins turn dusty and this texture permeates the entire experience.

Now I remember what caught me about this wine when I visited them not long ago. Very nicely done DeLille!

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2017 The Red (Root 49) by Naggiar Vineyards

Tonight’s occasion: 2017 The Red (Root 49) by Naggiar Vineyards, Sierra Foothills, California

Composition: 32% Syrah, 32% Tempranillo, 27% Malbec, 9% Grenache.

Out of the bottle the nose is filled with a dusty Cedarwood with a hint of redwood. This subsides a little but remains prominent throughout. It’s oak underpinnings is revealed ever so slightly while it eventually turns to black licorice as it opens up. I expect this from a terroir driven wine of this region however not as a primary note. Ripe plums and dark cherries take a secondary stage. An almost oily granite minerality lingers in the back. Another distant floral note eludes me. Interesting.

Body greets with a dash of acidity. Ripe plums, cherries, berries blue and straw quickly usher the palate in followed by a dash of oak. This immediately sets a fuller, more tamed stage. Slightly thin, crisp tannins provides good structure and balance while remaining largely in the shadows. Body as a slightly whispy mouth feel. Interesting, considering how massive this wine is otherwise. At 14.7% ABV this very well balanced and restrained. Transition to finish starts with dry tannins and a gentle but intense spice heat moving to the front. The duel is quick, as both quickly settle for a truce, leaving the lips parched shut and tingling.

This wine was made in the Vineyards. The winemaker shows great stewardship of their transformation. The hallmark of a great winemaker.

Nicely done Naggiar!

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