on restraint and…well, malbec.

South American wine

Today I am going to shock my readers on two accounts. For one, I have decided I must practice restraint. Like a fine wine that dares not say too much that is readily audible, I am inspired to really embrace the art of blogging and document my impressions of wines I enjoy everyday… in shorter pours. One ounce tastes, so to speak.

But do not fear…

I am, after all, still me, and therefore cannot help but still indulge in verbose vine-atribes once every week or so. This way, however, I can blog more often, and you can learn of some fabulous finds on a more frequent basis without all the excess information.

So then, secondly, along those lines, I will tell you about a Malbec that really caught my interest last night: a 2007 Durigutti Malbec from no other than Argentina’s famed Mendoza region. Many know that I could take or leave this grape. I think they are easy-going and accessible, but rarely do they motivate me to write. I was visiting a friend, whom I know to adore big, full, opulent reds that are generous with fruit and spice. A self-proclaimed old world wine enthusiast, I always like to embrace these dinners as an opportunity to broaden my own horizons, so I went with one I remembered having more than just fun, forward fruit.

This red wears a dazzling, dark purplish hue in the glass (what I would refer to as a ‘Parker’ preferred color—‘inky’ is how he might describe it). It opened up strong with a melody of rich, raspberry jam, dried violets, and blackberries. As opposed to some Malbecs that just fall apart on the palate with lush, unchecked extravagance, this red was more focused and forthright. It had an enticing edge, a serious grip that begged for bigger meat, heavy bbq fare, and aged cheese. The finish, though, was soft and comfortable, persistently pulsating with toasty, vanilla whispers from the throat. With this Malbec, you truly get the best bang for your buck at only $13.99 a bottle.

perez cruz: damn fine chilean wine.

South American wine

Confession: though I try not to fall victim to the limited land of francophiles, I admit, I have a difficult time warming to just any new world wine, particularly that of Chile.  I genuinely feel it is not a snob-thing.  I just consistently return to a very distinct, ‘green’ vegetal (almost chewy) sensation  on the nose and palate, which never fails to turn me off.

But then Perez Cruz came my way.

The instant my nose hung above a glass of 2005 Perez Cruz Cabernet, I knew this was not another mass produced floor stacker, profiting off the allure of the exotic.  This wine had integrity.  Beyond the steady scent of dark cherries, blackberries, tea, vanilla and dried fruit there was a distinct component that established itself as Maipo terroir–a peaty aroma almost.  It was not overdone, though.  It was intriguing, thoughtful, and cozy, for lack of a better description.  I was enthralled.  If the land can talk to me, I can’t help but want to be fast friends.

I grew to enjoy this wine even more once I looked up the winery’s website.  What began as a simple investment of land for Pablo Perez Zanarto–an opportunity for he, his wife and eleven children to play with agriculture for self-sustenance and interaction with the earth–grew to become an ideal location for cultivating vines in honor of Zanarto’s deceased father.

The soils, climate and location of the vineyard in the foothills of Maipo Alto Valley couldn’t have been more perfect for what Zanarto had in mind.  Isolated in the Central Valley, blocked on all sides, safe from disease, the rich, alluvial soils are perfect for Cabernet but also the likes of Carmenere, Merlot, Syrah, Malbec and Petite Verdot–largely, Bordeaux varietals.  He was determined to only plant grapes that would reflect a ‘proper identity’–a voice that sounded of Maipo.  Quality uncomprimisingly takes precedent, therefore all vineyards see low yields, each grape is hand-picked, and the careful process of crushing is crucially meticulous.

This Cab had only a touch of Carmenere and Syrah (4.7%, 3.7% respectively).  It sees oak for about one year after steel-cast fermentation, resting in the bottle four months before release.  A smooth, steady red, surprisingly approachable without food but certainly more enriching with red meats, aged cheese, or hearty risottos.

Their 2007 Syrah Reserva is receiving outstanding reviews as is their 2004 Carmenere Reserva Limited Edition.  If you are curious to see the potential of Chilean wine, the direction and depth they can and have achieved, you must get to know Perez Cruz.