Malbec

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Do you love Malbec as much as I do? Riedel, the global leader in varietal-specific glassware and Graffigna, an icon of Argentine wine making, have developed the perfect wine glass for you. The two companies worked together to release a beautiful new glass just for Malbec, and we recently got to try them out.

Most of the world’s wine lovers celebrated World Malbec Day on April 17. Here in Boston, the world was falling apart, and I missed celebrating. This weekend I finally got around to opening a box full of treats I received for the occasion, and much to my delight, it included two brand new Riedel Malbec glasses and a bottle of Graffigna Centenario Reserve Malbec. The glass, to start, like all Riedel glasses, is just beautiful.

Graffigna Malbec and Malbec Glasses

The glass is a bit longer than the other wine glasses we have, such as Bordeaux and Burgundy glasses, and it narrows quite a bit at the rim. We decided to test out the glasses by lining up a few of our other types of glasses, then smelling and tasting the Malbec in each. The most significant difference we noted was the concentration in the nose in the special Malbec glass. The narrowing at the top means the esters aren’t escaping the glass and are really there when you stick your nose in.

We also noticed that with the Malbec glass, the finish was longer, and the wine had more body. This wine, in any of the glasses, offers up dark fruit and a touch of pepper; it’s fantastic. Sipped from the Malbec glass, it was a different, heightened experience. Being able to try these new glasses out was a really fun little wine experiment, and we were pleasantly surprised to smell and taste the differences.

Riedel Malbec Glass

I received these Malbec glasses and a bottle of Graffigna Malbec for review, however opinions are all my own.

More information on the Malbec glass from Riedel and Graffigna can be found in the below press release.

Graffigna™ and Riedel, in a joint venture, announce today the release of the world’s first glass created exclusively for Argentina’s iconic grape variety, Malbec. The vessel, developed through a multi-stage process that enlisted the support and feedback of some of the world’s greatest palates, became available for purchase today, just in time for the celebration of Malbec World Day.

Over the last year, the designers at Riedel worked closely with the Graffigna team, who shared their expertise in the Malbec variety, to develop a glass that would accurately display the quality and intensity of the aromas and properly balance the flavors inherent in Malbec wines. The resulting prototypes were tested and rated in New York by a host of influential wine journalists and recognized Malbec experts. Through a series of voting and elimination rounds, the panel helped select the perfect vessel to become the world’s first official Malbec glass.

“When conceiving this glass for Malbec, the characteristics of the variety were profoundly considered,” remarks Maximilian Riedel. “The concept was not born on a drawing board, but finely tuned by trial and error through a highly collaborative effort involving top experts and enthusiasts.”

Carefully selected proportions — a base 3.54″ in diameter, a stem 3.94″ long, and a bowl 5.32″ tall and 3.35″ wide at its fullest point — coupled with a narrow cut rim, help to concentrate the aromas and direct the wine to the center of the tongue. These features create a harmonious balance between the distinguishing qualities of Malbec wine: its smooth and sweet tannins, its bold fruit flavors and its medium acidity. The glass joins the prestigious portfolio that has propelled Riedel to become a global leader in varietal-specific stemware.

“The Graffigna Malbec Glass developed by Riedel improves the enjoyment of Malbec wines,” says Franco D’Angelo, International Brand Manager of Graffigna, “enhancing the expressive attributes that have contributed to the progressive popularity of the grape in recent years.”

Malbec World Day, celebrated annually on April 17 in cities across the globe, recognizes and heralds the growing popularity of the wine. This year, the day will also commemorate the release of the world’s first glass created for this noble varietal. For more information or to purchase the stemware, visit www.riedel.com.

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Tags: Graffigna, Malbec, Malbec Glass, Riedel, wine, wine tasting

Wines of Argentina

A dreary Boston Wednesday is always made better by a mid-day wine tasting. Hosted by warm and welcoming people in a stellar location for tasting wine (or any other event), the Wines of Argentina: Meet the Experts Roadshow, held last week at the JFK Presidential Library, was definitely one of the most well organized and informative wine events I have attended. I was lucky to be invited as part of Red, White, Boston, and one perk to having a slowing-down work schedule is the ability to attend such trade events. Now to get me some Marketing work in the wine industry, and we will be all set.

Let’s start with the location of the event, shall we?

 

island roses

I had a meeting in downtown Boston, so I took the T back to JFK UMass, and despite the pouring rain, decided to forego the UMass shuttle and walked to the library. Being out in the rain by the sea actually lifts my spirits, and it definitely worked. It felt like Ireland. I snapped a shot of one of the few remaining island roses from the summer, bright against a green, vibrant background. The sea, at times was so cloaked by fog that it was almost invisible. I thought these trees looked a little eerie.

UMass Boston

Even the dead leaves in the grass looked pretty. I love the UMass Boston campus; what a beautiful, serene location!

autumn

When it was time for the event to get started, I checked in and met up with Cathy from Red, White, Boston and then took a look around the room which was split into two parts, one for the sit-down tasting program and another for the reception. The room was actually the same room that Senator Kennedy’s public wake was held in, and I won’t lie, being there again made me a little emotional. The organizers of the event also found the venue to be very special, bringing Argentine wine and culture to a place built after a President that was beloved by so many and a family that has been so important in American history.

Wines of Argentina

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Making the event even more special was the lineup of wines available for tasting during the reception and the gorgeous display of food. All sorts of cheeses, vegetables, sauces, breads, and even a pan of tortilla was displayed in the center of the reception, with items like beef empanadas being passed around the room. I  grabbed a quick triangle of the tortilla and a taste of sparkling wine before heading off with Cathy and a group of wine writers for a very special interview.

Wines of Argentina

We had the very exciting opportunity of sitting down in a small group with two of the special guests of the day, Tomas Hughes (left), Agricultural Manager at Bodegas Nieto Senetiner and Edgardo Del Popolo, winemaking and viticulture director at Doña Paula. They spoke about what makes Malbec special, how it came to Argentina in the 1850’s from Cahors, France and for a long time was blended in with many other reds. Malbec adapted well to the soils and altitude of Argentina, and it was when growers started to notice this  that they started to work with it and realize that not only could it be grown in various conditions, but it would also be made in various styles that are flexible and food friendly, pairing well with anything from an Argentine steak or beef empanada (their favorite) to an Italian pasta or even a meaty, fatty fish. Our time with Mr. Hughes and Mr. Del Popolo was short, but they were so interesting and engaging and happy to speak with all of us.

Wines of Argentina

When it was time for the program to begin, I sat down with some other Red White Tasting Crew members to learn more about Malbec as well as to taste Malbec and other wines from Argentina.

Wines of Argentina

 

Wines of Argentina

Wines of Argentina

Each short information session included a tasting of 2-3 wines. You’ll notice red spit cups; it was the middle of the day, and this was a trade event! I did not spit the sparkling wine I had at the reception or the Weinert Malbec from 1977, but I did spit all the others. Sniffle.

The tasting started with a session on Malbec: When the Planets Aligned. This session shared with us more information on Malbec and how it came to be popular as well as how Argentine winemakers are being careful not to make the same mistake Australia made with Shiraz. Shiraz (Syrah) became very popular, and Australia started to grow it everywhere, producing a glut of wine that was not all good (hello, Yellow Tail), and that really cheapened the appeal of the variety. In the opposite way, Argentina is focusing on the sense of place, where they grow Malbec, and some of the nuances between the flavors and noses of the wines grown at different altitudes and different types of soil. The second session, The DNA of Malbec expanded on information on the different styles as well as the different growing areas. In the first two sessions we tasted all Malbec:

Mendel Malbec 2008

Doña Paula Seleccion De Bodega Malbec 2007

Colome Malbec 2009

Nieto Senetiner Terroir Blend Malbec 2009

NQN Universo Malbec 2009

I didn’t take great tasting notes, but the Doña Paula was one of my favorites, with nice, spicy notes in addition to the dark fruit. I definitely left this event with purple teeth!

The third session was Malbec for Collectors and was done via a video of winemaker Robert de la Mota. The tasting, from a first bottling of the 1977 Weinert Malbec, was done at the end of the event.

We also had the opportunity to learn about other wines being made in Argentina and tasted the following:

Michel Torino Don David Torrontes 2011 (Beautiful white, perfect for Indian food, I am in love with this wine!)

Altos Las Hormigas Colonia Las Liebres Bonarda 2009 (very dry with lots of stewed dark fruit flavors)

Susana Balbo Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 (rich, chocolate-y Cab, absolutely gorgeous)

The event wrapped up with Sandy Block, Legal Seafoods VP of Beverage Operations (and one of my wine instructors), talking about Argentina’s emerging classics, icon wines that will reach a world class stature.

It was such an educational way to spend an afternoon, and I left with two thoughts.

1) I definitely need to taste more Malbec and to pay attention to the differences in wines grown in different parts of Argentina as well as different parts of the world.

2) I need to visit Argentina ASAP. It is at the very top of my travel list; now I just need the time and money to make it happen!

 

That was a long post! Whew. . .

How was your weekend?

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Tags: Argentina, Boston, events, JFK Library, Malbec, Red White Boston, wine, wines of Argentina

Spring into Malbec! World Malbec Day was celebrated this past Sunday, and to assist in my celebration of the day, and Malbec in general, the kind people at Frederick Wildman & Sons sent me a few bottles of Malbec to try. Since I was working with a wine from Argentina, I also decided to cook up a little Argentine-inspired dinner, empanadas, but with a vegetarian, Italian twist.

tomatoes and basil

Caprese empanadas! I started out by making a beautiful, summer filling of shredded mozzarella, a chiffonade of basil, and chopped tomatoes. As you see above, I bought some gorgeous tomatoes, or so I thought. On the inside, they were still wintry, pale, mealy, bleh. Luckily I had a can of chopped tomatoes that I was able to quickly drain for the filling. It helps to be prepared!

tomato, mozzarella, basil

I knew making the empanada filling would be the easy part, but the dough intimidated me a little, as dough tends to do. This dough, however, could not have been easier to work with. I followed a recipe for Chilean Empanadas for the dough, but I substituted butter for shortening. Many empanada recipes use shortening or even lard, but I really preferred to use butter. After some research, I found that it is a 1:1 ratio for butter to shortening, and I got to chopping my Kerrygold into little cubes.

Kerrygold butter

For whatever reason, blending the butter into the dry ingredients this time was a cinch! Perhaps practice makes perfect? Smile Once I added the milk and let the dough rest for 20 minutes, it was time to roll it out.

empanada dough

I usually have a sticky mess of dough or something so dry and cracking that I can not roll it out. This dough was so fun to work with!

empanada dough

I rolled it out on our kitchen table and started cutting circles with a large tupperware container to make the empanadas.

empanadas

Once the dough circles were cut, I added a scoop of the empanada filling, then sealed each empanada with a fork and brushed with egg. My empanadas cooked at 375 for 35 minutes.

empanadas

Sadly, I overstuffed and undersealed the empanadas, so they all exploded a little in the oven. But they dough became light, flaky, fluffy, and golden brown, just as I had hoped. Though not much to look at, the empanadas were quite delicious with a cheesy, garlicky center, dotted with fragrant bits of basil

empanadas

I served the empanadas with a side of orange-infused plantains, and there was, of course Malbec. We didn’t drink all of these bottles in one night; as you can see from the photos, they are all at different times. I received the Malbec about a month ago, and we have been sampling ever since.

Trapiche Malbec Don David Malbec Cuma Organic Malbec

 

Here we have a 2008 Trapiche Oak Cask Malbec, a Michael Torino Estate Don David Reserve Malbec, and a 2009 Michael Torino Estate Cuma Malbec, made with organic grapes. Each of these Malbecs exhibited that gorgeous, dark red-purple color that Malbec is known for, but I loved how different each of these wines were.

The Trapiche offered aromas and flavors of cherry vanilla and a little bit of oak and cedar. The Don David, which we sipped with the empanadas, was smokier and spicier, still with nice fruit flavors, but with a long, lingering finish.

The Cuma was, to me, the fruitiest, with flavors of baked fruit, like dark cherry pie. I really enjoyed all of the Malbecs we tasted (and there are more!), and it was interesting to learn a little more about Malbec, especially how it goes well with Easter and spring dishes such as lamb.

Up next will be some Chilean wine and hopefully a Chilean recipe or two. I love how receiving wine samples encourages me to try new things and to look up new recipes.

Have you tried a new-to-you food, wine, or other item lately?

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Tags: Food, Malbec, recipes, wine

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