Monday, March 7, 2011


Humberto Canale Estate Malbec

The wines of Argentina make for a fascinating study, particularly those from Patagonia.  A distinctive earthiness has been the calling card of the Patagonian wines I have sampled.  Humberto Canale is in the High Valley of the Rio Negro province, located in the northern portion of Patagonia, an area comprising the southernmost part of South America.

Malbec, an Argentine restaurant in Toluca Lake, CA, has a wine list that is heavy in Argentine brands.  A lunchtime visit there offered me the opportunity to try Canale's '09 Patagonian Malbec.

This 100% Malbec wine is fermented in concrete vats for 20 days, then undergoes malolactic fermentation and aging of about 20% of the volume in American and French oak for a year with another 6 months in the bottle before its release.  My waiter suggested it is on the lighter side, but I find it to have a very full body.  The alcohol content is 13.7% abv.

It's very dark, both in color and aroma.  The wine is inky with a nose of dark fruit and earth, with some tar characteristics thrown into the mix.  There is an almost a minty edge on the palate, which is dominated by the same traits found on the nose plus some spice.  The finish is quite long and entirely satisfying.  Very concentrated flavors taste great in the mouth and for minutes afterward.  Minerals play a large part in this wine, and the acidity is just about perfect.

This Malbec paired so well with wood-fired salmon that it seemed to be made for that purpose, although the winery suggests barbeque is its intended mate.

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