Did you celebrate Malbec World Day last Friday, April 17? I most certainly did, tasting through a wide variety of Argentinian Malbecs along with my friends at The Wining Hour. All of them were lovely, all of them truly expressive of what the climate and topography of the region has to offer this noble grape—indeed, Malbec has certainly found its seat on the throne atop what are known as some of the highest vineyard elevations in the world. But I have to say that when it comes to Argentinian Malbec, my heart truly belongs to Bodega Catena Zapata so it was no surprise that the Catena Malbec was my favorite tasting in the line-up, so this is what I bring to you today. Salud.
Napa Valley Malbec. Yes, that’s right. Malbec that is grown and produced in Napa Valley. Is this new to you? It’s new to me — and a welcome new addition to my wine portfolio it is. And who better than to introduce this unique 100% varietal wine than the esteemed team from Shafer Vineyards — Elias Fernandez, winemaker for Shafer Vineyards, Doug Shafer, owner and proprietor. Eighty Four wines is a side project of the two longtime friends who’ve been working together since 1984.
The first few years were challenging – experimenting, working long hours, learning from our mistakes, pushing ourselves to make the best wines we could. They were exciting years. This wine represents two friends going full circle – making wine together, trying new things, doing what we love. That’s the spirit of Eighty Four. – Elias Fernandez & Doug Shafer
When I spoke with Ed Wallo about tasting his wines, I noticed that he has a tendency toward the unusual — 100% bottlings of odd varietals; orange wine; and sparkling…Malbec??? I rarely drink Malbec as it is, so the prospect of tasting a sparkling Malbec intrigued and excited me. The classically rustic red wine is known to pair with bold flavors (Steak and chimichurri anyone?), yet sparkling wines and rosés are usually paired with lighter fare. (Where’s my cheese board?). Well, I did both. So let’s see what a sparkling Malbec tastes like and what kind of food it likes best.
Troon Vineyard may have a 40 year old winemaking history, but they seem to be on the cusp of what’s new and innovative in winemaking. Not out to make the fast, easy sell, they embrace what their little piece of Oregon terroir has to offer — climate and terrain similar to the Old World France and Spain, and yet still uniquely Oregonian. That means their focus is on under-appreciated grapes: Vermentino, Tannat, Malbec, simply because this is what grows best. (Learn more about Troon Vineyard’s Applegate Valley)
As Craig Camp says, “If you want to bring real pleasure to peoples lives, your wines have to have personalities as interesting as the people that drink them.” (You can read more of Craig’s thoughts on Troon Vineyard’s Wine Camp Blog.)