Wine of the Week: Salentein Malbec

I never met a Malbec I didn't like. They're always smooth, fruit-forward and a beautifully inky purple that stains the lips and teeth, giving you what a friend of mine once referred to as a "serial-killer-smile." Malbecs are exotic and historic, with French origins and a now large production in South America. The vine clippings were originally brought over by a French agricultural expert in the 19th century and have remained a part of the South American wine industry ever since.

Although the varietal is still grown in France as one of the six types of grapes allowed for Bourdeaux blends, the popular 100 percent Malbecs are usually from our friends down in Argentina. Malbec is currently the most widely planted red grape in the country (according to our pals at Wikipedia), and as of a few years ago, took up more than 50,000 acres of land there.

This particular Malbec had a wonderfully complex, fruity aroma with strong black pepper, cinnamon and clove notes on top of a strong scent of alcohol and a hint of plum. With nice legs forming on the glass, it's a big, higher-alcohol Malbec, worthy of a battle with any California Cabernet (and probably a little cheaper). The dark, deep-purple wine proved smooth and was a perfect way to round out a meal of heavy tapas dishes. The peppery spice and cinnamon flavors presented first with a pleasant punch of raspberry and plum jam in the middle, with a finish of light but detectable tannins.

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