I worry about the future of Malbec…

No, there is no great scourge awaiting this wonderful grape, prepared to wipe it from the earth, depriving all of us of its hearty pleasures. No, the threat is far more insidious… It is a threat that has hurt many grape varieties in the past, leaving their over cropped fruit hanging juicily on the vine, destined for that great vat of mass-produced jug wine… And what could this threat be?

I speak of, faddism… a fashion that is taken up with great enthusiasm for a brief period of time, a craze… Does the fate of Merlot and Pinot Noir jog your memory?

Malbec is perched on that slippery slope of becoming the next fad wine… or perhaps it is too late? Saving grace – while Argentina is hustling Malbec to market in every conceivable form, the French are doing what the French always do, shrug with a wily glint and walk away, letting you know that Malbec is their grape, originally, but not worth all the fuss. Bravo.

Actually, the Argentines are proceeding in a measured, if not somewhat zealous way, which bodes well. It may be that Malbec is just a little too edgy to actually become the next darling of the wine world. If Merlot and Pinot Noir have a certain smoothness and style that charms the palate, Malbec is the loud, boisterous college friend who is perpetually locked in frat party mode. Often full-bodied and unapologetic, Malbec is an in-your-face blast of black fruits and wild spices.

Another good sign… My Father-in Law eschews Malbec, despite my many attempts to convince him it is worthy of opening at table… Trend setter? No, but his taste in wine is classic and you can’t go wrong with the classics… He wears Brooks Brothers too… Need I say more?

But what about those youthful adventurers striving for the next great grape? Malbec isn’t sweet enough for their young palates… Have you noticed the sudden explosion of sweet reds on the market? Jellybean wines? Flip Flop wines? Yeah, Malbec is that scary guy in the leather jacket enjoying a few snake bites before a great game of darts… read “stay away…”

tikalpatriota

All of this makes me smile… Why? Because as long as Malbec stays just on the periphery of faddism, then wines like the 2010 Tikal Patriota are widely available at very reasonable prices. Tikal has a few different bottles of Malbec to choose from, but I think I like the Patriota the best. A blend of 60% Malbec and 40% Bonarda, the two grapes work together to create a pleasingly balanced wine with dark, inky fruit layered with exotic spices. I sipped it over two evenings and the wine held up impressively even without my usual Vineyard Fresh squirt in the bottle.

My tasting note:

Jammy nose with dark, blackberry and cedar hints. Full-bodied with moderate acidity and moderate tannin – good balance. Fruity with peppery, cherry and briarwood notes – mint and eucalyptus – youthful and vibrant. Moderate length with a smooth and layered finish – vanilla and allspice. Drinking well and should hold nicely for another 2 to 3 years.

At an average bottle price of $19.99 before the discount, this wine is a respectable value.

Cheers!

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