Dining & Drink

A Patagonian Prince

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The Grape Escape:
2088 Ruta 22 Malbec

Please make sure your corkscrews are in their upright and locked positions because we’re about to fly to Patagonia, Argentina, to drink 2008 Ruta 22 Malbec.

I was pleasantly surprised by the lush blackberry fruit of this Malbec when I first tried a sample of it.  Very bold and robust. But here’s the kicker: The bottle had been open for 3 days!

I was so intrigued that I felt the need to buy a bottle and try it fresh.  When I opened a new bottle, the wine exhibited dark fruits (blackberry and plum) but with a wonderful spicy, black pepper backbone.  After an hour or so, the spice blows off a little and the fruit really starts to come through with some really nice complexity.  This can evolve and change for a good 3 days and still maintain nice fruit and acidity.  Ruta 22 – my new favorite Malbec.

Patagonia, located about a thousand miles south of Mendoza, is a region suited better for cool climate grapes like Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, but Malbec also thrives here.  Cooler conditions give Malbec lower yields and thus more robust qualities.  Though most Argentine Malbec comes from Mendoza, it seems to lack some of the elegance found in Patagonian fruit.

Malbec is an interesting varietal because of its insignificance in France and vast popularity in Argentina.  It originally hails from Bordeaux where it is used as a minor blending grape.  These days it is hard to find much acreage for Malbec in France.  It simply does not have the lush personality that it has in Argentina where it stands on its own, most often without being blended with other varietals.  Compared to France, Argentine Malbec grows in a much drier climate and has warmer growing seasons, which help the fruit get to its full potential before being picked.

Ruta 22 Malbec retails for $10-$13 dollars.

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