Please The Palate Pick of the Week: Saracina 2018 Malbec, Skid Row, Mendocino County for Malbec World Day!

You may think of Malbec as a full-bodied red wine with plump, dark fruit flavors and a smoky finish, but not all Malbecs fit this exact description. As we celebrate Malbec World Day, the Saracina 2018 Skid Row Malbec from Mendocino County is the Please The Palate pick of the week!

Malbec’s birthplace is France and it used to be one of the six grape varieties allowed in a Bordeaux blend. Malbec was introduced to Argentina in 1868 and today it is considered Argentina’s national variety. There are more than 76,000 acres planted in Argentina, compared to 15,000 acres in France. But, Malbec is also planted in the United States, Chile, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand. There are 3400 acres across California, Washington, and Oregon.

Mendocino, north of Healdsburg, has only 80 acres of Malbec planted and some of those acres are planted in the Skid Row Vineyard on Saracina Ranch.

Saracina is a 250 acre ranch located in the southern part of Mendocino, near Hopland, only 30 miles north of Healdsburg. Founded in 2001 by husband and wife team John Fetzer and Patty Rock, the property includes the winery and sustainably farmed vineyards, as well as 140-year old olive trees, vegetable gardens, beehives, bird and wild animal life. In 2018, Marc Taub purchased the property after being captivated by the place, the style and quality of wines. Saracina is Certified California Sustainable winery. There are 40 acres planted on six different parcels. 50% of the planting is to Chardonnay, but 25% is to Malbec, with smaller amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, and Petit Sirah.

The Skid Row Vineyard was planted in 1999 and is the westernmost block on the ranch. The name “Skid Row” comes from the tracks carved into the surrounding hillsides in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by donkeys dragging logs down to the vineyard site, where they were collected to fire the furnaces for hop barns in the course of making beer. The Malbec was planted by David Ramey who was a consultant to Saracina in the first years and the wine is made by Alex MacGregor who has been the winemaker since 2001.

The Malbec clone planted is low-yielding and produces concentrated fruit that does not need to be picked at high-sugar levels. The grapes are harvested, destemmed, and fermented with natural yeasts. 40% of the grapes are sent to the fermenter as whole berries. The free run juice was placed in French oak barrels, 10% of which are new, and the wine was aged for 19 months before bottling.

The Saracina 2018 Skid Row Malbec, Mendocino County, which retails for $30, has a bright nose with notes of blueberries, earth and soy sauce. It is medium bodied with fresh acidity and soft tannins. It leaves your mouth watering, making you want more.

Happy Malbec World Day!