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.

About the Wine: The Yorkville Cellars 2016 Sparkling Malbec Brut Rosé is made from 100% Malbec grapes harvested from Yorkville Cellars estate vineyards located in the Yorkville Highlands AVA of Mendocino County in California. The grapes were all hand-harvested, gently pressed, and left with minimal skin contact (to extract just a bit of color) before moving on to the press and primary fermentation.

This sparkling wine was made in the methode champoise, or Champagne method, with secondary fermentation occurring in bottle, and final dosage occurring during disgorgement (0.9% RS). (Learn more about sparkling winemaking.)

Flavor Profile: Pop the top of the Yorkville Cellars 2016 Sparkling Malbec Brut Rosé and find a springtime garden blooming with raspberries, citrus zest, and light blossoms. The rosé pours almost completely clear, but settles into the glass with the very definition of rose-petal pink. Initial aromas are of strawberry, raspberry, citrus zest, and a hint of orange blossom. Swirl and reveal the addition of sea-salt-sprinkled ocean air on a warm day.

The palate of this sparkling Malbec is dry from start to finish, but never at any moment lacking in flavor. Dominant flavors are of strawberries, blood orange, raspberries, chamomile powder or daisy pollen, and a kind of Turkish-delight-like funk. The finish is almost textural, just slightly drying out the perimeter of the mouth — and yet it’s a lingering finish with an after breath filled with freshly grated lime zest.

Food Pairing: I enjoyed the Yorkville Cellars 2016 Sparkling Malbec Brut Rosé over the course of two nights. (Thanks Avina Wine Tools!) The first night I enjoyed this sparkling Malbec with roasted pork loin with a side of roasted veggies (butternut squash, brussel sprouts, mushrooms, and onions) sprinkled with a bit of blue cheese. The bubbly bit of the wine perfectly cut through the fat and meatiness of the pork, as well as the soft textures of both the veggies and the cheese. Meanwhile, the funky flavors of the blue cheese as well as the brussel sprouts added a bit of an earthy-herby flavor to the Malbec that wasn’t noticeable when sipping the wine on its own. And the earthy-sweetness of the butternut squash, elevated a bit of the wine’s acidity — an element I almost didn’t take note of, as it’s so subtle (though clearly working throughout the tasting).

The second night I enjoyed the Yorkville Cellars 2016 Sparkling Malbec Brut Rosé, I paired it with a simple crab cake salad. As you’d suspect, seafood and sparkling wine are a fantastic pairing. In this case, those hesitant notes of the sea I sensed on the nose of the wine came through a bit stronger, while the herbaceous salad — garnished with a bit of dried cranberry — called forth the fruit flavors.

I enjoyed both these pairings as well as sipping the Yorkville Cellars 2016 Sparkling Malbec Brut Rosé on its own.

More Info: I received the Yorkville Cellars 2016 Sparkling Malbec Brut Rosé as a sample for review. (Cheers Ed!) Retail: $36. For more information about Yorkville Cellars, their wines, and to purchase wine directly, please visit the Yorkville Cellars website.

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