Living Life Forward With Malbec


“Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forward.”

-Soren Kierkegaard

Malbec’s ancient roots lie in France, where it was once the most widely planted varietal in Bordeaux until the vicious winter of 1956 destroyed most of the plantings. Now, the majority of the remaining vines find a home in the southwest of France, in the Cahors region. This is a region that highlights rustic complexity and structure and is known for allowing nature to do much of the winemaking work through organic farming and minimal intervention. Today, Malbec has plantings all over the world, from the U.S. to Argentina, and most recently New Zealand. Yet, it is in its roots that the best new winemakers look to for guidance when growing the grape. In its origins, we feature the 2014 Chateau Haut-Monplaisir Cahors Prestige. For its future, we showcase the 2017 Decibel Gimblett Gravels Malbec of Hawkes Bay, New Zealand.

The 2017 Decibel Malbec represents the single Sacred Hill vineyard in the Hawkes Bay region that lies on the east coast of New Zealand. The winery has a distinct focus on sustainability and seeks to employ techniques as ancient as wine itself. That is, to employ classic winemaking practices with minimal intervention and a local community based attitude and to learn from historically great wine producers. A product of wild fermentation and 12 months rest in oak, the 2017 Decibel Malbec is quite aromatic with flourishes of violet, plum, fruit tart, and earth. The palate is medium in body with a lush entrance that suggests blackberries, a mid palate that is all mineral and wet stone, and a taut, structured finish that lingers. Not overly extracted, yet full in flavor, this wine will be versatile with a variety of dishes from skirt steak to charcuterie boards. The 2017 Decibel Gimblett Gravels Malbec is brand new to Ohio and certainly the first New Zealand Malbec to cross my path. It delivers and I'm sure we will cross paths many times in the future. Retail is $29.99 a bottle.

Located in the heart of the Cahors region, where red wines must be at least 70% Malbec, Chateau Haut-Monplaisir produces a range of wines that highlight the personality of the varietal and diversity of the terroirs. The 2014 Prestige Cahors is a full, meaty rendition reflective of its time spent in oak and is comprised of 100% Malbec. Ripe dark fruits are found here, the same as the Decibel, but the 2014 Prestige brings out aromas of spice, herbs, and a touch of smoke as well that highlights the rusticity France is known for. Quite structured and serious, this generous Malbec has vibrant acidity and silky tannins that will allow it to gain in complexity with age. An excellent example of a Cahors wine, the 2014 Chateau Haut-Monplaisir retails for $25.99 a bottle and recently received 93 points with Wine Enthusiast. I highly recommend putting both of these quality bottles side by side for a seriously fun and delicious regional comparison from two excellent producers.

Lastly, there is a bit of our allocation of the 2018 vintage of the acclaimed Bodegas El Nido wines left. We have the 2018 Clio for $59.99 and its bigger sibling in El Nido for $149.99. These monstrous, delicious Spanish reds represent the partnership between the Gil Family Estates and acclaimed Australian winemaker Chris Ringland. Monastrell and Cabernet Sauvignon are the stars of these two bottlings and they are not for the faint of heart and not to be missed.

From the Gentiles team to you, we hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday season and a happy New Year. Thanks so much for your support this year and please let me know if I can set anything aside for you.

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