Argentina’s Malbec wines get their own glass

What is 3.54 inches in diameter at the base, with a stem 3.94 inches in length, and a bowl that measures 5.32 inches tall and 3.5 inches wide at its fullest point? Give up? It is the new Riedel glass designed and developed specifically for the Malbec wines in cooperation with the Graffigna wines of Argentina, owned by Pernod Ricard USA.

The Graffigna wine organization is not new to marketing as the parent company Pernod Ricard USA also owns prestigious brands as Absolut® Vodka, Chivas Regal® Scotch Whisky, The Glenlivet® Single Malt Scotch Whisky, and superior wines as Jacob’s Creek® and Brancott Estate®; as well as exquisite champagnes and sparkling wines that include Perrier-Jouet® Champagne, G.H. Mumm™ Champagne and Mumm Napa® sparkling wines.

Riedel Glass for Malbec Wines
Noted as the inventor of the functional glass, Claus Riedel was the first person in the long history of the glass to design its shape according to the character of the wine. Originally established in Bohemia in the mid-18th century, the company has been family owned for over 250 years. Georg Riedel (11th generation) and Maximilian Riedel (12th generation) currently run the US $348 million per year glass business.

• The size of the bowl and base facilitate swirling and aerating in order to obtain a full bouquet

• The tulip shaped rim channels the movement of the wine to sensitive nerve ending on the tongue

• The pulled stem offers elegance to the eye and joy at the fluidity of the glass

It is this unique design of the glass that creates a delicate balance between the complex qualities of the Malbec wine; smooth and sweet tannins combined with bold fruit flavors and medium acidity.

Malbec wines from Argentina have developed an international reputation thanks to the high quality soil that is irrigated by the clean, fresh melting waters from nearby snowcapped mountains. Combine this with sunny days and dry weather and the perfect conditions exist for wine production. The wine growing areas of Argentina extend over 2400 km and meander along the Andes foothills thus providing the grapes with distinctive and diverse flavors.

Argentina has a long history in producing table and quality wines that dates back over two centuries. It is over the last two decades, however, that investments from domestic and international investors have enhanced the quality and production capacity of these wines. Talented wine professionals (i.e., agricultural engineers, sommeliers, oenologists and wine technicians) have found their way to Argentina and it is their expertise that is enhancing the quality of the wine produced for export.

While known and noted, Malbec is not on the tip of everyone’s tongue and not the first thought when entering a wine store or scanning the wine list at a bar or restaurant. Bringing consumer attention to the product via the Riedel glass was an incredibly clever idea and definitely a public announcement that the wine has arrived in the wine mainstream.

Tasting Notes
During Malbec week I had the opportunity to explore a few of the Argentine wines.

1. Broquel Malbec 2011
This wine is made with grapes that are hand harvested from select 15-year old vineyards in Mendoza, Argentina. Broquel Malbec is sourced from estate vineyards that average 25+ years of age. Elevations average above 2500 feet, creating an environment perfectly suited for achieving maximum ripeness with little human intervention. The wine is aged for 15 months in new French and American oak barrels.

Peer into the glass and you are enveloped in a deep almost black velvet experience. The aroma is of cherries and perfume and memories of fresh red and black fruits combined with earthy minerals. On the tongue the wine is yellow raisin sweet and full-bodied tannins; a long and pleasant finish. Serve with a ragout of braised beef, pasta with a mushroom sauce and grilled meats.

2. Achaval Ferrer Finca Mirador
Finca Mirador Malbec vines were planted in 1928 and 1942. Made from the Medrano sub-region that features heavy clay soils. The wine is aged in new French barrels for 16 months. While offering eye candy in the glass with its deep ruby -red color, it is the incredible aromas drifting from the class that make this a turn-on. Think cassis and blueberries, cherries and strawberries with a sweet freshness reminiscent of sorbet. The palate is delighted with its medium-body that offers light tannins that conjures up thoughts of black currant pastilles, sea salt and crushed stones. The wine is complex with a sense of sophistication.

Malbec wines are perfectly paired with Spaghetti and meatballs, Spaghetti Bolognese, steak and roast beef.

3. Recuerdo Torrontes La Rioja, Argentina 2011
La Rioja is located in the Famatina Valley wine region. Torrontes grapes thrive in the foothills of the Andes. Recuerdo means memory in Spanish and the winemaking team of Santiago Achaval and Pablo Martorell believe that each bottle should represent Argentina’s native terroir and serve as a memory of each and every harvest. The wine is fermented in stainless steel tanks to preserve its fruit intensity.

It is pale yellow in the glass, leaning toward gold. A swirl brings out an aroma of sweetness and flowers (think pansies) with hints of peaches, and fresh lemons. A small sip creates a fresh and light experience on the tongue – like a first kiss; satisfied for the moment – but definitely wanting to explore the experience once again. Enjoy with savory crab cakes, grilled oysters and summer salads.

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