“Winemaking is our expert craft and rooted deeply within my heritage. My father was a well known Winemaker, as was my Uncle & Grandfather. There has always been a bottle of wine on the family table. Today that bottle is Piattelli.” Valeria Antolin Piattelli, Winemaker
Malbec has become one of the most popular wines in this country, right behind Merlot, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon. Commonly known as “Cot” in France, this wine is thought to have gotten its name from a Hungarian peasant whose name was Malbec, or Malbeck, who is believed to have spread the grape all over France. It is predominantly a red wine, but there is also a rose’ variety which tends more to the floral. Today, Malbec is synonymous with Argentina as it now takes up fully three-quarters of Argentina’s vineyards and is considered the country’s most important grape. Funny, because it was originally thought of as an inferior grape, suitable only for blending.
In the 1940’s the Piattelli family left the war-torn region of Tuscany and emigrated to Argentina bringing with them their family winemaking expertise. Settling in this region may have been only a coincidence, but I would prefer to think of it as fate. The combination of rocky soil, temperature range, warm sun and experience all coupled with a high elevation made a fine home for the family and its process where a beautiful history joined with a strong future and an almost divine legacy.
As I said above, Malbec has become the official wine of Argentina, so to speak. It is a deep purple in color, almost haunting because of it. You can think of it as mysterious when you realize some of its history. Remember, these grapes were once used for blending only. But this wine has evolved. It is dry and full bodied with essences of dark fruits such as blackberry and plum. There is little if any sweetness to it and the taste does linger on the palate just long enough after the first sip. This wine in particular exhibits all of those characteristics, and does so extremely well. Perhaps owing to the altitude where these grapes are grown, it is billed as a “High Altitude Wine,” or maybe because of the soil, the rich qualities of a good malbec are enhanced.
The winery is located in the city of Mendoza, which is the capital of the province of the same name. It is on the eastern side of the Andes in the north central region of the province. In the 1500’s this region was populated by two tribes, the Huarpes and Puelches. These were rather advanced people who developed a system of irrigation, adopted later by the conquering Spaniards and still evident today. The climate is warm and temperate with significant rainfall even in the driest months. This allows for a slower ripening of grapes. And since the Piattelli winery is located better than 3100 feet above sea level, the cooler nights add significant body to the grapes as they tend to dry more quickly. Now, when you combine this with oak barrel aging for at least eight months and the expertise of the family and staff, you can be assured of a very high quality wine.
This wine is drinking very well right now. As with most wines, especially reds, it will benefit from about an hour in a good decanter. It is best served with a meal of red meats or game such as boar or wild turkey. But Argentina, remember, is the land of the Gaucho. These famed Argentinian cowboys claim beef, good hearty beef as their staple diet and that is what this wine pairs best with. A good cut of beef, grilled to your liking will really bring out the flavors of this wine.
Critics are also very high on this wine (no pun intended). James Suckling gave it 92 points, Wine and Spirits Magazine gave it 93 and rated it a Best Buy, while Vinous gave it a 90. As for me, I found this wine to be an excellent value and a real find. I had never seen it before, but just the fact that it had an attractive, understated bottle kind of drew me to it, and I am very glad it did. The appearance, the aroma and finally the taste all show true quality and craftsmanship. There is a devotion to this product and to the winery in general that is sometimes sadly missing in today’s world, and not only in wines.
Alcohol – 14.5%
Price – $19
This wine will not be a stranger to my home as we do entertain pretty often and holidays are coming. I will be proud to serve it, and you will too. My own rating gives this wine 8.75 grapes out of an unattainable 10.