Wine: Graffigna Centenario Malbec Reserve
Region: San Juan, Argentina
Availability: Vons, Smith’s Food and Drug, general wine retailers
In the glass: Graffigna Malbec is a deeply colored purplish-red color with an opaque core going out into a fine violet rim definition with fairly high viscosity.
On the nose: The wine in a special malbec glass is all concentrated black fruit extract with Morello cherries, graphite, huckleberry sauce, phenolic compounds, earthy minerals and touches of wood and licorice twizzlers. In a regular glass, I think the fruit would “pop” more but leave out some of the nuances.
On the palate: There is a palpable sense of black fruit extraction with massive concentration of particularly cherry compote, marionberry jam, licorice root, fairly high-tone acidity that plays with the forward but ripe tannins and then again hints of wood. It has a powerful finish that quite frankly gives the palate a bit of a workout. It is a big masculine style of wine.
Odds and ends: I received an email from a PR company representing Graffigna that asked if I had heard about the new Riedel malbec glasses that had been designed specifically for wines made from the malbec variety. I was intrigued and asked to have some samples sent over. Riedel has become legendary worldwide for its ability to create glassware that matches the flavor profiles of most major grape varieties. The malbec glasses were absolutely incredible, making the malbec tasting a completely different and much more enhanced experience than normal. Now, as with other Riedel stems, one has to know that if a wine is inferior, in the special glasses it gets exposed real fast, but if the wine is great, it is enhanced tenfold. The Graffigna passed with flying colors, and because it is such an impressive wine for the money, it gets top marks for having had the guts to specifically design a glass with Riedel that matches its wines. As with all malbec wines, they are full-throttle, full-bodied wines, so they are best if they get a chance to “breathe” for at least an hour out of the bottle in a decanter or just pop the cork in advance of wanting to enjoy it. This is a young wine, so it should drink well through 2017 and be the perfect match for a good medium-rare salt and pepper-rubbed rib-eye right off the grill.
Gil Lempert-Schwarz’s wine column appears Wednesdays. Write him at P.O. Box 50749, Henderson, NV 89106-0749, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.