Copyright : Kseniya Abramova

As I was inviting our friends Carole and Rob Rinne to share a tasting of four Malbecs, I had this brain poof… “I wondered what vines in South America had any phylloxera problems?”

I vaguely remembered that Chile hadn’t, or was it Argentina? What if it’s all vines in Chile and Argentina… All of South America?”

I needed a good refresher and I knew it, but I didn’t have the time at that moment. So we didn’t make this a comparative focus for Malbec from Argentina and Malbec from Chile.

As a joiner to this stream of thoughts, a couple of days ago… there it was, as I was reading James M. Gabler’s Passions ~ The Wines and Travels of Thomas Jefferson, and the answer appeared.

“Phylloxera, a root louse that attacks and kills the vines’ roots, was accidentally introduced into France in the early 1860s on vines originating in the eastern United States to replace diseased vines and for hybridization. Within 25 years phylloxera destroyed almost every vineyard in the world except those in Chile, Cyprus and a few other scattered areas.” p. 62

Head back to spinning, with what I thought could be a very unique comparative… Isn’t it marvelous to think of Chile and the country of Cyprus as having primal varieties; i.e., on their original rootstock, not having been grafted onto America’s phylloxera resistant rootstock? I just think this is so cool and primal. (Next time, South American comparative tasting… next time.)

So, anyway, a Malbec tasting was being organized… Right down to a grande finale of food to pair with the wines.

    • Four glasses for everyone
    • Arrange wine in an order of taste graduation that I imagined
      • Glasses proved right as rain
      • Two separate regions from South America
        • Argentina
        • Chile
    • Taste four separately and discuss
      • Carole brought olives to cleans our palates ~ Excellent
      • Tech notes were there so we could reference how each was made, etc.
      • Also, pretty much used our own palates
      • Decided on a favorite (empty glasses were worth a thousand words)
  •  Bring to food
    • Now taste with food
    • Discuss

Photo: Jo Diaz

The Magical Four South American Malbec 

Photo: Jo Diaz

  • Trivento Golden Reserve Malbec, Luján de Cuyo, Mendoza, Argentina 2015
    • From the region of Luján de Cuyo: the Vineyards have stony, alluvial soil; and are Agrelo and Vistalba (Luján de Cuyo), in Mendoza, Argentina.
  • Reserva Casillero del Diablo Malbec Chile 2016
    • From the Central Valley of Chile, the Vineyards have Riverbench associated soils.

    Photo: Jo Diaz

  • Trivento Argentina Malbec Reserve, Mendoza 2016
    • Vineyards Mendoza, Argentina. Grapes primarily sourced from the Luján de Cuyo and surrounding areas. Alluvial soil.
  • Serie Riberas Gran Reserva, Ribera del Tinguiririca 2016
    • Vineyard ~ From the Central Valley of Chile, the Vineyards have Riverbench associated soils.
    • Riverbench soil: The soil is made up of particles that include clay, silt, sand, and gravel sediment. This soil was deposited by ancient flowing waters.


What each wine gave to me

  • Trivento Golden Reserve Malbec, Luján de Cuyo, Mendoza, Argentina 2015
    • There’s still plenty of tannins left in this Malbec from Argentina; so it will continue to age well. How was it? It’s beautifully soft, like a silk scarf had just wrapped around my palate. A delicious experience, then enhanced with José’s marinated Tri-Tip, at the end of our tasting. Of my four wines, this became my empty glass.
  • Reserva Casillero del Diablo Malbec Chile 2016
    • With this one, we took a minor focus for flavors coming from Argentina and Chile and we did find a slight difference. The Chilean wines were a bit more powerful, like a seasoned thoroughbred stallion. “Perhaps it’s the Three Winds,” I thought out loud. Then I had to explain about the three winds (below).
    • Inspired by the Winds
      • EOLO is an Italian name for Homer’s Greek mythology. This wind’s behavior is given to sudden and unaccountable changes in behavior.
      • Polar Zonda is a foehn wind, which means that it’s a hot wind on the slopes of the Andes. It’s a dry, down-slope wind that occurs on the lee (downwind) side of a mountain range. Zonda is a term used for this type of wind, because it happens over those parts of western Argentina, which are tucked into the slopes of the Andes. This includes the wine region of Mendoza. The wind climbs over and swooshes downward.
      • Sudestada (southeast blown) wind. This wind is a fresh, summer breeze, which sometimes bring storms.
  • Trivento Argentina Malbec Reserve, Mendoza 2016
    • We all agreed on this Trivento Reserva Malbec’s deliciousness.  It was just like a race horse’s easy gallop… The strength was there, but nonchalantly rippling those muscles… Very food friendly, a touch of saddle leather on the nose, which turned to enveloping roundness on the palate. Almost Pinot Noir-ish.
  • Serie Riberas Gran Reserva, Ribera del Tinguiririca 2016
    • On the finish line… This head stallion is big, bold, and a muscular Malbec, the grand daddy from the group of four. The Riberas Gran Reserva was a natural complement with the bit of marbleized fat in the tri-tip. Plus the spices of both food and wine made this one slide down really smoothly, when we had Tri-Tip to go with it.

It’s a great day when we have lovely friends, delicious wines, and a fabulous tasting experience. Life is what you make of it, n’est ce pas?