Tag Archives: Malbec

Smith & Hook red blend

AG Pick: Smith & Hook 2013 Proprietary Red Blend

It’s chilly, gray and drizzling where I am. It’s the kind of weather that makes me want to close my laptop, light a fire, and get cozy on the couch with a good book and glass of red wine.

The wine I’d want to be sipping is the Smith & Hook 2013 Proprietary Red Blend from California’s Central Coast. Rich with intense dark fruit and smoke notes, it’s the wine equivalent of a warm blanket on a cold winter day.

Smith & Hook Proprietary Red BlendThe wine is a blend of 47% Merlot, 35% Malbec, 10% Petite Sirah and 8% Cabernet Sauvignon from vineyards in Paso Robles, Arroyo Seco, San Antonio Valley and Santa Lucia Highlands. It was aged for 26 months in French oak, 60% of which was new.

2013 is the first vintage of the Proprietary Red Blend. Smith & Hook, part of Hahn Family Wines, also produces a Cabernet Sauvignon.

The Proprietary Red Blend opens with aromas of dark red berries, smoked meat and toasted oak. The taste is full, lush and layered with dark red cherry, blackberry, plum, vanilla, baking spice, tobacco and leather. It’s velvety smooth in the mouth with well-integrated tannins. The finish is long and satisfying with lingering berry pie.

The wine is a great pairing for hearty winter dishes. Enjoy the Smith & Hook Proprietary Red Blend with beef tenderloin or stew, a savory risotto or braised lamb shank.

A bottle of the Smith & Hook 2013 Proprietary Red Blend costs $25.

14.5% alcohol

Salta wines

Colomé and Amalaya: Wines from Salta, Argentina

There is more to Argentina’s wine than just Mendoza. You’re missing out if you don’t venture beyond the country’s best-known region.

Today we’re focusing on Salta. This region is located in the north of Argentina and is characterized by its mountainous terrain. Here you’ll find some of the highest elevation vineyards in the world.

For a taste of Salta, try wines from Colomé and Amalaya. These wineries are located in the Calchaqui Valley, at elevations of more than 5,000 feet above sea level. The vineyards benefit from intense sun during the day and cool nights, ideal growing conditions.

Amalaya wines

The natural place to start is with Torrontes, the signature white wine grape of Argentina. This grape produces aromatic, dry wines with lovely floral notes.

Colome Torrontes & MalbecThe 2015 Colomé Torrontes is made entirely from Torrontes. The wine was fermented and aged in stainless steel to preserve its bright, fresh characteristics. This is a wonderfully fragrant wine, like taking a sniff from a bouquet of flowers. Gardenia, orange blossom and jasmine mix with slightly sweet citrus, with good acidity adding balance. $15, 13.5% alcohol

I first enjoyed Amalaya wines when I was in Buenos Aires and I’m so glad they’re available in the United States. The 2015 Amalaya Blanco is a blend of 85% Torrontes and 15% Riesling, two grapes that nicely complement each other. Just as with the Colomé Torrontes, the aim is to showcase the true nature of the grapes — controlled, cool temperatures during winemaking and stainless steel aging make the finished wine fresh and fruity.

The floral nose of the Amalaya Blanco introduces a palate of white flowers, jasmine, white grapefruit and lemon peel with a layer of minerality. Gentle acidity gives crispness, and the finish is clean with a touch of orange blossom honey. $12, 13% alcohol

Colome wines

Moving on to the reds, the 2013 Colomé Estate Malbec comes from four estate vineyards at varying elevations: La Brava Vineyard at 5,740 feet; Colomé Vineyard at 7,545 feet; El Arenal Vineyard at 8,530 feet; and Altura Maxima at the almost unbelievable elevation of 10,207 feet above sea level. The blend of Malbec grapes produces a wine that is bold yet elegant, with red and black fruit notes and firm tannins. Juicy dark red cherry and blackberry flavors are supported by an earthy backbone and a touch of black pepper and cedar. $25, 14.5% alcohol

Amalaya Blanco & MalbecThe 2015 Amalaya Malbec is a blend of 85% Malbec, 10% Tannat and 5% Syrah. The three were fermented and aged separately, and blended just before bottling. One quarter of the wine was aged in one year-old French oak barrels for 10 months.

The fruit flavors in the Amalaya Malbec come through first – raspberry, ripe red cherry, plum and a touch of blueberry. Then come the spice and earth notes, with black pepper, cigar box and violet. Though the wine has a lot going on it’s not one that you need to overthink. The Amalaya Malbec is the kind of wine you can enjoy any night of the week, no fancy meal required. $16, 13.9% alcohol

Colomé and Amalaya are part of the Hess Family Wine Estates portfolio. For more information  www.hess-family.com.

Organicgirl

Dress Them Your Best: Organicgirl #FlavCraze Challenge

Since becoming a new mom this summer, I have learned the importance of being able to throw together a meal in minutes.

That’s why I’m such a fan of organicgirl salad mixes. With organically grown lettuces from California that have been washed three times so I don’t have to, organicgirl helps me make a healthy meal in no time.

Even before I was pregnant I enjoyed organicgirl’s salad mixes. Let’s call it convenience, not laziness. Simply put, having lettuce that’s all ready to go keeps you from making excuses for not eating your veggies.

So I was excited when I was offered the chance to taste organicgirl’s new salad mixes and salad love dressings, plus a challenge: to create a dish featuring them.

My dish will be featured on organicgirl’s Facebook page, where it will compete with dishes from other bloggers.

But first, the new organicgirl greens:

Sweet Pea combines tender baby greens with fresh sweet pea shoots, which give the salad mix a springtime, fresh-from-the-garden feel. It also has 5 grams of protein per serving.

The PEPPERGREENS salad mix is rightfully in all capital letters because it shouts spiciness, with baby mustard greens, arugula and cress adding a kick.

organicgirl salad and dressings

Salad love is the new line of organic dressings from organicgirl. All are gluten free, GMO free and vegetarian.

White Cheddar is a tangy vinaigrette of aged cheddar, green onions, parmesan, buttermilk and sour cream.

Lemon Agave is a vegan-friendly vinaigrette with fresh lemons, extra virgin olive oil and blue agave nectar that is reminiscent of homemade lemonade.

Fresh Tomato Italian is tomatoes, basil, parmesan, garlic and extra virgin olive oil. It’s like bruschetta in a bottle, and so tasty you’ll want to use it as a dip too.

Kale Parmesan is made with baby kale, mint, basil, chives, parmesan and spinach. It tastes like you’re drinking pesto sauce – truly decadent.

organicgirl salad love dressings

The Sweet Pea and PEPPERGREENS salad mixes are so good on their own that all I need is a little olive oil. But that’s certainly not going to win me any votes!

So here is my entry:

White Cheddar Marinated New York Strip Steak with
PEPPERGREEN Chimichurri

Organicgirl steak

I love a good dry aged steak, but unless it’s a special occasion I buy the standard supermarket cuts. When I tasted the White Cheddar salad love dressing it was like a light bulb going off – maybe by marinating the steak in the dressing it would impart some of those delicious flavors that you get from dry aging.

Inspired by the flavors of Argentina, I decided to try an organicgirl spin on chimichurri. Instead of using parsley and oregano for the traditional green sauce, I used the PEPPERGREENS mix and the Kale Parmesan salad love dressing.

I finely chopped the organicgirl salad mix by hand, then whisked it together with the Kale Parmesan dressing, olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic and salt. I’ve shared the full recipe at the bottom.

Organicgirl chimichurri

I marinated the steaks overnight in the White Cheddar dressing, then seasoned them with salt and pepper before grilling them to a perfect medium rare.

After plating I topped the steak with the PEPPERGREEN chimichurri, and served it with the PEPPERGREENS mix and locally grown heirloom tomatoes. Bonus: the PEPPERGREEN chimichurri made excellent dressing for the salad!

AG Organicgirl steak

The dish tasted even more delicious than it looks in the picture. The White Cheddar marinade imparted tangy and aged cheese flavors (especially on the parts that were charred from the grill), and all the savory elements of the steak worked so well with the spiciness and vinegar of the chimichurri.

For such an easy to make dish it made a big impact – and made our weeknight dinner feel like a special event.

AG Organicgirl steak3Naturally we decided to pair our Argentine-inspired meal with an Argentine Malbec. We selected a bottle we brought back from our last trip to Argentina, a 2010 Marcus Gran Reserva Malbec.

If you’d like to try this meal in your own home, I recommend the Septima Malbec, which can be found a few aisles over from organicgirl in many grocery stores.

Look for organicgirl salad mixes and salad love dressings in the refrigerated produce section of Publix, Whole Foods and other natural food markets.

For more information visit www.iloveorganicgirl.com.

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White Cheddar Marinated New York Strip Steak with PEPPERGREEN Chimichurri

Ingredients:

  • 2 New York Strip steaks, approximately 1.5 lbs total
  • 1/2 bottle organicgirl salad love White Cheddar dressing
  • 4 cups organicgirl PEPPERGREENS salad mix
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp organicgirl salad love Kale Parmesan dressing
  • 2 cloves garlic (or more if you love garlic)
  • 1 tsp salt, plus more for seasoning
  • freshly ground black pepper for seasoning

Directions:

Marinate the steaks overnight in the organicgirl salad love White Cheddar dressing.

To make the chimichurri, finely chop the organicgirl PEPPERGREENS salad mix and garlic by hand or in a food processor.

In a separate bowl whisk together the olive oil, red wine vinegar and organicgirl salad love Kale Parmesan dressing. Add the chopped PEPPERGREENS salad mix, garlic and salt, and stir to mix.

Without removing the excess marinade from the steaks, season the meat with salt and pepper. Grill the steaks until your preferred doneness.

Top the steaks with the PEPPERGREEN chimichurri and enjoy!

Serves two hungry adults

Full disclosure: The Amateur Gastronomer received complimentary salad mixes and salad love dressings from organicgirl.

Patel wines

Patel: Small Winery with Big Taste

When Robert Parker awards your first wine a 95, you know you’ve made something special.

But don’t let that number bias you toward Patel Winery. It’s more of a treat if you taste the Napa wines without any preconceived notions. That’s how I came to meet owner Raj Patel, at last year’s High Museum Atlanta Wine Auction. His wines – a Cabernet Sauvignon and the Red Wine, a Bordeaux-style blend – were among my favorite discoveries at the event. When I found out that Raj was returning for this year’s auction, I couldn’t wait to meet with him and taste his current releases.

Patel winesRaj founded Patel Winery in 2006. He secured fruit and a custom crush facility in 2007, and made some wine in 2008. In 2009 he joined the Napa Valley Vintners Association and submitted his Cabernet for review with Robert Parker. More recently he brought on Luc Morlet, one of Napa’s top winemakers. Patel Winery sources its grapes from six vineyards and makes the wine at Luc’s winery.

I could go on for several paragraphs about how the Patel wines are intense yet elegant, with layers of fruit and earth notes that end in a long finish. But here’s all you need to know: Patel wines are really really good.

Over breakfast the morning of the 2015 High Museum Atlanta Wine Auction, Raj and I spoke about Patel Winery, what makes the wines unique and what’s next. Continue reading

AG Pick: Septima Malbec 2012

After paying tribute to Cahors, France, the birthplace of Malbec, it’s time to return to South America. The 2012 Septima Malbec is a great example of how well this red wine grape does in Argentina.

Bodega Septima was founded in 1999 as the seventh (septima in Spanish) winery from the Codorníu-Raventós family of Spain. The winery is located in Luján de Cuyo in the Mendoza region. The vines are planted at an altitude of 3,400 feet above sea level in deep sandy loam soils, and benefit from natural irrigation from the melting snow on the Andes Mountains. Hot days and cool nights are ideal for developing the flavors and maintaining acidity in the Malbec grapes.

Septima MalbecThe 2012 vintage is 100% Malbec. Half of the grapes came from Luján de Cuyo, and the other half came from the stony soils of the Eugenio Bustos district in the Uco Valley. Grapes were harvested by hand, and the wine was aged for 12 months in French and American oak barrels.

The wine is deep purple red in color, almost black. Intense aromas of blackberries, cassis, plum and black pepper draw you in. The black fruit notes develop and expand on the palate, giving way to earthy leather, wood smoke and spice. Well integrated tannins give the wine a lush and velvety mouthfeel.

With any Malbec from Bodega Septima you get quality and consistency, and a great price. A bottle of the 2012 Septima Malbec costs $10.99.

For more information on the wines from Bodega Septima visit www.bodegaseptima.com.

14% alcohol

Related: Cahors Malbec and the South America Connection

Argentina Malbec

Cahors Malbec and the South America Connection

How did Malbec go from its birthplace of Cahors to being the national red wine grape of Argentina? It started some 175 years ago.

Malbec arrived in Chile from France in 1840. It was brought to Argentina from Chile in 1850.

Its success is the combination of several factors starting with South America’s long tradition of winemaking, which dates to Mendoza’s founding in 1561. Prior to Malbec’s arrival, Chile and Argentina had been producing wine made from native grapes.

As Malbec was beginning to take root, it was helped along by a massive immigration from France, Spain and Italy in 1878. This brought better winemaking techniques and a culture of appreciating wine. Notable winemakers adopted Malbec early, and by 1890 Malbec had become an important grape in Mendoza.

More recently, the 1990s saw a revitalization and modernization of winemaking in Argentina and a growth of exports. Between 2000 and 2012 the number of hectares planted with Malbec vines doubled.

Today half of the exported bottled wine from Argentina is Malbec.

Whether it is Cahors Malbec or an Argentine Malbec in your glass, take a moment to enjoy the rich history in each sip.

A special thank you to Professor Pablo Lacoste from the University of Santiago in Chile for the facts and figures cited in this article.

Return to the main page of Cahors Malbec

Cahors Malbec Rose

Cahors Malbec Rosé

With an appreciation for tradition, winemakers in Cahors also seek to modernize Malbec for a new generation of wine lovers. Today the new trend is to produce a rosé of Malbec.

Cahors Malbec roseThe past few years have seen a surge in the popularity of rosé wines in the United States, particularly rosé from France. Though it is still difficult to find Cahors rosé in US stores and restaurants, you’ll definitely want to look for it if you have the opportunity to travel to the region.

Malbec is an extremely versatile grape for rosé. The wine can span a variety of colors and styles – from salmon pink to bright magenta, light and fruity like the rosés of Provence to bursting with ripe red berries like a light bodied Gamay or Pinot Noir.

Continue reading

Chateau de Cayx

Guide to Cahors Wineries

Here is your go-to guide on Cahors Malbec.

For a taste that will make you fall in love with Cahors Malbec try wines from these domaines and châteaux.

The wines from each estate are generally listed beginning with entry level (easy to drink, less oak and aging, lower price point) to top of the line (excellent quality, complex, cellar-worthy, higher price point). Vine age is the average age.

Click here to learn about why the location of the vineyards — on the terraces or plateau — is so important to Cahors Malbec.

Scroll down to the bottom for a map of the wineries.

Château du Cèdre

Owned by brothers Pascal and Jean-Marc Verhaeghe who took over the vineyard from their father in 1987, Château du Cèdre produces exceptional Malbec in Vire-sur-Lot. For that “aha! moment” – when you take a sip and understand what makes Cahors Malbec so special and delicious – try the 2011 Le Cedre. In 2003 the Verhaeghe brothers transitioned to organic farming and were awarded official certification in 2009.

Chateau du Cedre wines

Location and soil: Third terrace; clay and limestone soils.

Website: www.chateauducedre.com

Wines to try:
Cèdre Heritage 2011
100% Malbec from 30 year-old vines, 18 months on the lees in tanks.

Château du Cèdre 2011
90% Malbec, 5% Merlot, 5% Tanat from 30 year-old vines. 22 months in oak barrels: 1/3 new, 1/3 one year-old, 1/3 two years old.

Le Cèdre 2011
100% Malbec from 40 year-old vines. Hand harvested. 24 months in barrel, 80% new.

GC 2011
100% Malbec from 55 year-old vines. Hand harvested. Fermentation and 27 months aging in new oak barrels.

Continue reading

Clos Triguedina

A Visit to Clos Triguedina

When you arrive for a visit at Clos Triguedina, one of the first things you will likely say is “I would like to taste something.” It is a sentiment that has been expressed there countless times over many centuries.

Cahors and Clos Triguedina are located along the Pilgrimage Route of Santiago de Compostela. In the Middle Ages, pilgrims would find a welcoming place for food and rest at the estate in Vire-sur-Lot. In the Occitan language they would say, “I am longing to dine” – “me trigo de dina.”

Continue reading

In the Magazines: Men’s Book Atlanta

Check out articles from AG’s Robin Alix Austin in the Winter Issue of Men’s Book Atlanta, out now.

Men's Book Atlanta December 2014Holiday Spirits
Mixologist Miles Macquarrie of Kimball House in Decatur shares some of this season’s top spirits.
Page 110

One to Try: Cahors Malbec
This big and bold red wine from southwest France demands a spot on your dinner table.
Page 110