Malbec for the Masses

This is a very odd Malbec. I don’t drink a ton of straight Malbec, but can usually spot it fairly easily in a line-up. This I would NOT have. Black-purple with a rosy blue rim, it cascades into the nose a ridiculously bright–almost carbonic–fresh fruit: apricot and cranberry tinged with nutmeg, jasmine and easy green-brier. So bright, so effusive, and it follows quite correspondingly on the palate.

Sharp, prickly fruit in the mouth, the entry a sweet-bitter meld of acid-rimmed Jolly Rancher–but it’s not candied or shallow. Opposingly, it is also not polished or elegant, poised or demure. This is a brash, energetic child, beautiful and bubbly, which everyone in the room adores. There’s nothing solemn or Bordeaux-mannered about it. It delivers a Chinon or even Valdiguie-esque POW right to the face. The middle ‘straightens-up’ and ‘flies-right’, delivering dark cherry concentration in thick layers–everything etched with crazy acid. A gob of bitter tannin addresses the almost-dessert-like core, bringing all that briar into focus despite the cherubic nature of the whole package.

This is an outstanding wine, but I think if I were marketing it, I would go with “Red Wine” and let the chips fall where they may, without the encumbrance of an odd variety with little typicity and mucho consumer apprehension. You will be addicted at the first whiff: a PERFECT porch-pounder or lunch-time wine, but would you order it as a “Malbec”? I probably wouldn’t, but I will add one caveat: It will be very interesting to taste this in 5-10 years. I think it’s got the stuffing to pull it off, and where that amazing fruit goes with a little age will be interesting. I would be shocked if there were more than 2 barrels of this, so get on it. Brilliant stuff.

2020 ARIANNA Malbec Pedrigal Vyd. Paicines AVA San Benito Co. 14.3

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