29 Apr Please The Palate Pick of the Week: Celebrating Malbec at Bodega Malbec Grill in Toluca Lake
Malbec is the most famous grape in Argentina and on April 17th every year, we celebrate World Malbec Day. As a continuation of the celebration, I was invited by the Consulate General of the Argentine Republic to attend a dinner featuring Malbec wines paired with a meal by Bodega Malbec Grill in Toluca Lake. This belated Malbec celebration at Bodega Malbec Grill is the Please The Palate pick of the week.
Bodega Malbec is an authentic Argentina grill located in Toluca Lake. The menu includes steaks grilled on an open fire, homemade pasta, and more and they prepared a three-course meal to enjoy with three Malbec wines. We started the event with delicious empanadas paired with the Éclat de Soleil Malbec Rosé, a refreshing rosé wine from Languedoc, France. It was then time to move into the Argentine Malbecs.
The origins of Malbec are in France. Malbec is one of the five grapes in a Bordeaux blend and also be found in the Cahors region in France. Malbec was brought to Argentina in 1868. Today, more than 75% of the Malbec planted in the world comes from Argentina. While Malbec is the primary and most celebrated grape in Mendoza, it is planted across Argentina. Planted at different latitudes, different styles of Malbec can be found.
The majority of Argentina’s Malbec grows in Mendoza. In Mendoza, the vineyards range from 1,500 feet to 5,577 feet in elevation. But Malbec is also cultivated in even higher altitude vineyards in Salta to the north as well as at close to sea level in the Rio Negro region in the south.
Our first wine was the Bodega Noemia A Lisa 2020 Malbec from Patagonia. Patagonia is in the south of Argentina. It is a desert with the Río Negro flowing through. With colder year-round temperatures, the Malbec develops a thicker skin, which leads to stronger tannins. Bodega Noemia is owned by Italian Countess and wine producer Noemi Marone Cinzano and Danish winemaker Hans Vinding-Diers who teamed up as partners to produce some of the finest wines in Argentina. The A LISA is made from grapes sources from the Mainqué area and there is 10% Merlot in this wine. 20% of the wine was aged in used barrels for nine months, and 80% is aged in stainless steel. The medium-bodied wine has aromas of dark berries, cherry, and plum, as well as notes of cocoa and earth.
The 2018 Marcelo Pelleriti ‘Signature’ Malbec is from the Uco Valley in Mendoza. Marcelo Pelletri, whose mentor is the legendary oenologist and wine consultant Michel Rolland, makes wines in Argentina, as well as in France. The Uco Valley has altitudes ranging from 3000 to 4000 feet above sea level and sees a diurnal shift between day and night temperatures which are the best conditions for the ripening and concentration of fruits. The resulting wine is a deep red color with intense red fruit, plum, and spice aromas and elegant tannins and paired well with homemade ravioli stuffed with osso bucco and topped with mushrooms.
The Hermanos 2017 Malbec comes from the Calchaquíes Valley in the north in Salta. “Hermanos” means “Brothers” in Spanish, which is a nod to the friendship and loyalty that exists between the three Domingo brothers, Osvaldo, Gabriel and Rafael. The Malbec comes from 40 year old vines planted on sandy/stony soil at 6,560 feet above sea level. The grapes were hand-harvested, macerated for 20 days, fermented for 12 days in concrete tanks with selected yeasts, and aged in stainless steel tanks. The medium-bodied wine is unfined and lightly filtered and has notes of fresh plums, bramble, and black pepper. It is ripe on the palate with minerality on the finish and paired beautifully with the grilled steak in a plum reduction sauce.
Not all Malbec is the same and it was lovely to enjoy three expressions paired with food from Bodega Malbec.