So the story of Malbec is an interesting one right?
Native to France, the varietal has gained it’s highest quality and greatest level of acceptance in South America.
It’s been said quite a few times that Malbec though, is stuck being a third or fourth rate red wine grape and will never be anything more than a high alcohol $7 bottle that remains completely nameless.
Quick, name the last South American winery that you searched for?
Over the past two days, I’ve had a couple of experiences that say, maybe, just maybe, Malbec is getting somewhere.
First, I had a brief conversation with Raj Patel, whom I’ve written about a bit in terms of his Patel label in the past and he mentioned heading up to Napa to pour as part of a Napa vintners event. Raj has a Malbec made, one of the only true 100% versions made in Napa today and every time I’ve seen it open anywhere, it’s a crowd pleaser.
Last night I had the opportunity to pour a bit of wine at Kayu, a handbag store and high end boutique in Burlingame (it’s on the Peninsula about half way between the city of San Francisco and Silicon Valley). I had a white wine from Sonoma, as well as a Santa Barbara Pinot that was made locally, a Washington Malbec and a Sonoma Syrah.
I was pretty surprised that when asked given the list, about half the people wanted to try the Malbec. I think part of that is that there’s an allure to wine from Washington State in these parts, largely because the big boys don’t usually carry much of it, but also because folks that drink wine consistently understand that Malbec in Washington is gaining acceptance in the wider wine trade for a few reasons.
I just didn’t think people would be that interested. I think what I had available is part of the reason people gravitated toward the Malbec if I’m being honest. Pinot Noir at this point, seems like old hat. Syrah, even if people haven’t ever had a good one, leads people to believe that they don’t like it. So maybe Malbec felt like the best choice and without having a Cabernet there, it’s hard to say where Malbec stands on the ladder overall.
But, maybe, Malbec does have room to grow. My interactions this week say that it does and I’ll be searching for a locally made Malbec here in Napa or Sonoma in the coming months. Washington will always have a place in our monthly wine clubs with it’s Malbec of course.