Eat, Drink, and be Malbec

Since Monday was Malbec World Day, keep the celebration going and try one of these tasty recipes with your favorite Malbec.  

 

One simple technique for pairing food and wine is to practice regional pairing. Having Italian food? Try an Italian wine. This certainly isn’t the only way to pair food and it’s not foolproof, but it’s a good template. 

Since Malbec has really flourished in Argentina and become the signature varietal for the country, what better recipe to start with than steak—an Argentinian staple. At peak beef consumption in 1956, Argentinians consumed 222 pounds of beef for every man, woman, and child.  Now Argentina hovers around roughly 120 pounds of beef per capita (compare that to US consumption rate of 79.3 lbs per capita and the fact only ten countries in the entire world consume 50+ lbs per capita).

SKIRT STEAK WITH CHIMICHURRI SAUCE

Photo: epicurious.com

Photo: epicurious.com

Continuing in our homage to beef-fanatic Argentina, GRIDDLED GAUCHO STEAK WITH BREAD-AND-BASIL SALAD is another excellent pairing with Malbec. 

Photo: foodandwine.com

Photo: foodandwine.com

Moving away a little bit from the idea of regional pairing (but sticking with the carnivore theme), try a quintessential American cheeseburger. The lush Malbec will really bring out the flavors of this FAKE SHACK BURGER.

Photo: smittenkitchen.com

Photo: smittenkitchen.com

While instinctually Malbec and meat go hand-in-hand, don’t be afraid to try a vegetable dish, like this SWEET POTATO, BLACK BEAN, SPINACH QUESADILLA

Photo: womensday.com

Photo: womensday.com

Finally, one more veggie recipe for those not so Argentinian in their meat consumption habits. This AUBERGINE STEW from Jamie Oliver is a great meat alternative.

Photo: jamieoliver.com

Photo: jamieoliver.com

Malbec World Day: Fast Facts on a Unique wine

  • April 17 is officially Malbec World Day!
     
  • Why April 17? On that day in 1853, with the support of Mendoza’s governor Pedro Pascual Segura, a bill was submitted to the Provincial Legislature for the foundation of a Quinta Normal and a School of Agriculture. The bill was enacted as law by the House of Representatives on September 6th, 1853.
  • Malbec has a history dating back hundreds of years. It was served at the wedding of Eleanor of Aquitaine to Henri II. Happen to have forgotten their anniversary? We have you covered. 1152 (over 800 years ago).
     
  • Was once known as "black wine"...for fairly obvious reasons. Malbec is one of the darkest wines you can find. TintoNegro literally means Black Wine.
TintoNegro 

TintoNegro 

  • While you might associate Malbec most closely with South America (and Argentina in particular), Malbec traces its origins back to France and was once the most widely planted grape in the country and found in many Bordeaux blends.
     
  • In 1870,  phylloxera destroyed vineyards in France and ruined the Malbec vines in Bordeaux. This same pest has never taken hold in Argentina. 
Cahors, France

Cahors, France

  • By the end of the 19th century, viticulture had boomed in Argentina (in part thanks to Italian and French immigrants) and so did Malbec, which adapted quickly to the varied terroirs of Argentina. 
     
  • Now Malbec only accounts for about 10,000 acres in Cahors and about 100,000 acres in Argentina. Malbec can also be found in countries throughout the world including the US and New Zealand, but Argentina has nearly 70% of all acres of Malbec in the world. 
Ernesto Catena

Ernesto Catena

  • Malbec vines are very sensitive to weather and pests (like phylloxera). They've thrived in high-altitude Argentina. 
     
  • Argentina is now the 5th largest wine producer in the world. 
MAAL

MAAL

  • Argentinian Malbecs are fruit-forward, plummy, and velvety with prominent new oak.
     
  • French Malbecs have more structure, firmer tannins, an inky dark quality, and are earthier. 
     
  • BOTH have essential Malbec flavors of blueberry, cherry, and plum.  

Rosé Recipes

Every season is rosé season, but as the weather warms (well...we hope it's warming up wherever you are!) and flowers bloom we find ourselves craving the pink libation a little more than usual. We've collected some of our favorite rosé recipes for you to try. If you want more inspiration, head over to our Pinterest page


Rosé Lemonade with La Vieille Ferme Rosé


Raspberry Rosé Sorbet with Marqués de Cáceres Rosé


Sparkling Rosé Blueberry Floats with Cono Sur Sparkling Rosé


An Insider's Look at Rosé

It’s hard to walk into your local wine shop or supermarket and not notice the stunning rows of jewel-hued rosés.  And considering the boom in popularity that rosé has enjoyed the past several years, there’s a strong chance that these beauties ranging in color from the palest of pinks to outrageous magentas will be featured prominently.  As we explored in a recent blog post, rosé has gone from being just another wine to a cultural phenomenon in a few short years.  However, most people, even the most ardent fans, have little idea of rosé’s fascinating journey from grape to glass.

While researching this article, I was fortunate to speak with two winemakers very knowledgeable about rosé production, Chelsea Franchi of Tablas Creek Vineyard in Paso Robles, CA and Simon Batarseh of August Kesseler in the Rheingau region of Germany.

It is a common misconception that rosé is made by simply combining red and white wines together.  While this technically can occur, it is quite rare when making quality rosé.  Franchi, who oversees much of the rosé production at Tablas Creek, started our conversation speaking about the two most common methods of producing rosé:  saignée and direct press

The saignée method involves bleeding off juice from red wine tanks before it has had a chance to take on too much color from the red wine skins (this process is called maceration).  This labor-intensive method is interesting and controversial because it is often used as a way to enhance and concentrate the remaining red wine.  Many rosé advocates consider it an affront to rosé because it is the by-product of red wine production.  However, both Franchi and Batarseh praised this method for contributing intensity of flavors and for the amount of input they have while utilizing it.  At Tablas Creek, the juice sits on the skins for approximately 24-72 hours before about 20% is bled off and subjected to a cold fermention.  Most of this wine then becomes their serious, darker colored rosé called Dianthus (named for the flowers commonly known as “pinks”).  Dianthus is generally Mourvèdre-based, a nod to the rosés of Southern France, specifically the Bandol area.  Franchi attributes this wine’s watermelon essence to the Mourvèdre used in the blend.  At Kesseler about 20% of the juice from wonderful up to 80-year-old Pinot Noir vines is bled off then fermented.   Batarseh leans on this wine to contribute color and tannins to the final blend.

The other common method of making rosé involves direct pressing of the grapes.  This method is the most common and generally is considered the benchmark for crafting quality rosé.  Both Franchi and Batarseh praised the fact that crop levels, sugar levels, acidities, and harvest dates can all be controlled in the vineyard and tailored to make the absolute best rosé.  They both also press the juice off the grape skins without any maceration time resulting in a stunning pale pink color.  Often you will see this wine labeled as vin gris.  At Tablas Creek, this limpid direct press juice is destined to become their acclaimed Patelin de Tablas Rosé.  Franchi said that they prefer to co-ferment their Grenache, Mourvedre, Counoise, and Syrah juice for this wine.  This wine is definitely styled in the tradition of the great Provençal rosés with its dominant bright strawberry notes coming from the majority Grenache.  At Kesseler the direct press juice is blended with the saignée juice for the final wine.  Batarseh likes the interplay of qualities produced by using both methods, noting that the direct press juice brings a light, bright, acid-driven quality to the final wine. 

via Wine Folly (www.winefolly.com)

via Wine Folly (www.winefolly.com)

I asked Franchi what her favorite grape is to work with in the production of rosé.  After some thought she answered, “Grenache,” and referenced the absolutely heavenly, heady aroma released by the vats of fermenting Grenache in the cellar.  Indeed, when studying many of the great rosé-producing areas of the world, Grenache often seems to pop up.  It makes sense when considering that Grenache is a very thin-skinned grape and overall has less color-lending phenolic compounds than other red grapes.  Franchi also referenced the little-known Rhone Valley grape Counoise as contributing a nice softness and darker red fruit flavors to their rosés as well as those produced in Southern France.  Often Syrah is also added also its wonderful spicy character.

Grenache Grapes

Grenache Grapes

At Kesseler, Batarseh works exclusively with Pinot Noir for rosé production.  Once again we find a grape with thin skin and low levels of phenolic compounds.  It’s no surprise that in most of the world’s great Pinot Noir regions there is also usually concurrent rosé production (think Marsannay in Burgundy, Oregon, Germany, and the Loire Valley).  Producers in these regions get the dual benefits of producing a gorgeous berry-scented rosé and intensifying the often light juice destined for their Pinot Noir bottlings.  At Kesseler, considered one of Germany’s premier Pinot Noir specialists, their rosé shows beautiful berry and cherry notes while maintaining an elegant and exciting tension.  It’s definitely refreshing but has the stuffing for year-round drinking. 

Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir

Next time you’re buying a bottle of rosé for the lunch table, pool, or just a summer evening with friends, talk with the wine specialist or turn that bottle over and read the back label.  Besides the important visual clues from the color, you’ll gain some great perspective on what’s in a bottle by simply knowing how it’s made.  And don’t be embarrassed for buying it! 

As Franchi told me, “The stigma is over.  Rosé is one of the most delicious, versatile, and food friendly wines out there.”  Think pink!!

Mulled Wine Day

Today is National Mulled Wine Day!

Mulled wine has a history dating all the way back to the 2nd century. As the Romans conquered Europe they brought their winemaking with them. This unique wine drink is traditionally made with red wine and spices and served hot.

In Chile, mulled wine is called candola or vino navega’o. In France it’s commonly referred to as vin chaud and in Italy, vin brulé. In Portugal the libation is known as vinho quente, though in the Porto region porto quente is more popular.

One of the first known recipes for mulled wine is found in a medieval English cookbook from 1390.  We’ve collected some slightly more modern recipes so you can celebrate National Mulled Wine Day.

Some of our favorite recipes and wines to use are below.


Bon Appetit with Warre's Otima 10-Year-Old Tawny Port and Bulletin Place Merlot

Photo: Bon Appetit

Photo: Bon Appetit


Ina Garten  with MAN Family Wines Cabernet Sauvignon

Photo: Food Network

Photo: Food Network


David Lebovitz with La Vielle Ferme Rouge

Photo: David Lebovitz

Photo: David Lebovitz


President's Day

Today is President’s Day and U.S. Presidents have a long history of supporting the wine industry at home and abroad. 

One of the most legendary oenophile presidents was Thomas Jefferson. The third president of the United States served as ambassador to France where he developed a taste for French wines. As president he shipped 600 bottles of wine per year from France to the United States.

Jefferson also helped stock the wine cellars of the first five U.S. presidents. During his two terms in office it’s estimated he spent $11,000 (that's $175,000 in today’s dollars) on wine.

Two wines stand out as presidential favorites- Champagne and Madeira.

Madeira is a fortified wine produced on the Portuguese island of- you guessed it- Madeira. Its alcohol content hovers around 18-20%. This allowed it to withstand the trip across the ocean to the New World. In colonial days, nearly 25% of Portugal's madeira was shipped to America. 

George Washington was an avid drinker of Madeira. In fact, it was used to toast his inauguration. Washington’s granddaughter reported the first president drank three glasses of Madeira after dinner every night.

The first father-son presidential duo--John Adams and John Quincy Adams --were also partial to Madeira.  It is even rumored that during a blind taste test John Quincy Adams was able to correctly identify 11 out of 14 different kinds of Madeira.

While madeira lost its popularity over the years (but is making a comeback!), to no surprise, champagne has been a constant fixture in the White House. James Madison, John Tyler, James Polk, Ulysses S. Grant, William Howard Taft, John F. Kennedy, and Richard Nixon all had a well-known taste for the sparkling wine. The White House even boasts a champagne room. That's right, a champagne room.

Wine has been present at the most significant events throughout our country's history. Madeira was the founding fathers' drink of choice to toast the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The Louisiana Purchase was toasted with madeira and champagne. 

Raise a glass and have a celebration of your own this President's Day!

Interested in trying some of these president-approved wines? We highly recommend Champagne Salon, Champagne Delamotte, and Miles Madeira.