Don’t read this review. Not yet, at least. First, track a bottle of the 2010 Familia Zuccardi Santa Julia Reserva Malbec to a nearby PLCB store and skedaddle off to buy it.
While you’re gone, I’ll hum a rendition of “This Land is Your Land” by Woody Guthrie – the full version, with all the lyrics of the original composition.
OK, welcome back.
Since we’re on the topic of terra firma, this is a good opportunity to consider the elevated farm lands of western Argentina. Specifically, the vineyards in the mountainous subregion of Maipú, within driving distance from Mendoza, the capital of Argentinian winemaking. The grapes grown in Maipú, along with the Uco Valley, Santa Rosa and other Mendoza locales, are admired by wine producers the world over and benefit from plentiful sunshine, stony and sandy soils, cooling temperatures and the life force of the Mendoza River. The environs are not without challenges, and growers remain vigilant in the face of cold weather perils like frost and hail.
The resulting fruit, borne of rugged, almost hyper-natural conditions, can relay wonderfully intricate qualities that fuse robust and concentrated flavors with subtle intangibles imparted by the once-violent earth of the region. The tannins and acidity of cooler temperature grapes can also make for a meat-leaning red that can age with grace.
I learned of this fine Santa Julia Malbec during a class at the Philadelphia Wine School (read about that here), and was hooked at the first sip. It was an unlikely yet superb mate for a dark chocolate tart with sea salt, making it doubly alluring. My palatal memory palpitates when I think of the pairing.
The wine opens slowly, so bank on decanting time before you serve, and be sure to take in its aroma in full. It rises from the glass like a fragrant fog, a promise of what’s to come. This is Malbec that’s as comfortable with the force of its boldness as it is with subtlety. Its medium body strokes the palate and gently stacks dark berry, plum and coffee, moderate tannins, an acidic edge and a touch of smoky menthol that lifts the lengthy finish. Surprisingly, a day after it had been opened, the wine had transformed into a more lighthearted, tart cherry affair. Impressively complex, I’d pay 10 bucks more for this bottle and could comfortably hold it another year or two.
But there’s no need to wait past the cold weather ahead. It’s fully humming with anticipation for a steamy stew and a football game. Or another viewing of “The Big Lebowski.”
You’re still here? With limited quantities in the area and a price point of $12, you’ll be best suited to andale, arriba.
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Contact Jeff Alexander at firstname.lastname@example.org / On Twitter: http://twitter.com/mainlinevine