A Malbec from California – the Red Rock 2010 Reserve

Henry & Stephanie Yuen

When it comes to winemaking, tradition inarguably plays a paramount role in most cases, especially when crafting the finishing product. Nevertheless, like shaping arts and fashions, there is nothing wrong with going out of the box and be creative to chart a new trend.

The Red Rock Winery from California is one good example of a winery who attempted a noted effort to break out of the long-existing mould while creating a brand new image. Try their 2010 Reserve Malbec and you know what I am talking about!

Though not widely grown in California, these Malbec grapes thrive particularly well in the warm dry climate of Lodi; the North and Central coastal region of California. Sourced from various vineyards to take advantage of the different appellations, this Malbec has the balance and depth to command immediate attention on the mouth feel. Traditionally a blending grape in France that seldom predominates in the blend, Malbec flourishes in Argentina and becomes a signature single varietal there.  Determined not to be outdone, Red Rock Winery decided to craft a California Malbec that is equally impressive and the result is astounding.

It has all the characteristics of a traditional single varietal Malbec with dark purple color, relatively smooth tannins with luxurious dark fruit flavours and adequate oak aging; which all combined to lend this wine the medium to full-bodied structure.  The winemaker Debbie Juergenson deliberately makes the wine not 100% Malbec varietal but added a small percentage of Petit Syrah at the fermentation stage to integrate the overall tannins; and a small amount of Cabernet Sauvignon at bottling stage to enhance the aroma of cocoa, dark berries and fruit-forward character. This definitely is out of the norm in terms of how it is crafted but a brilliant result of achieving perfect balance is joyfully awaiting at the end.

The experiment proved to be a great success which would likely give the Argentina Malbec a run for their money. The wine can stand on its own nicely when paired with game meats and is a readily versatile around the BBQ.  With a hint of sweet fruit aroma, this wine can be enjoyed on its own with medium to full-bodied swirl-in-the-mouth sensation and complex depth to satisfy the discerning palate. Available now at BC Liquor stores at $16, it is competitively priced for the value and quality.

Hey, who say you should only sip Cabernet Sauvignon or Pinot Noir from California?