This week we received another sample of Black Box Wines - your friendly premium-quality box wine company. This time, the varietal was Malbec and it initially clashed with the abnormally high temperatures - would have loved their Sauvignon Blanc instead. All kidding aside, Malbec is one of our favorite varietals and is an increasingly more popular option for winemakers and grape growers here in Virginia. Yet, Argentina is where 100% Malbec has staked its claim and the Black Box Malbec comes from the Mendoza region - the largest wine region in the country. But why does Malbec excel in Argentina? In Bordeaux the grape is used in blends and never as a 100% varietal. Our friend Doug Frost instructed us that great wines come from regions which allow grapes to reach their full maturity during the longest amount of time. For instance, grapes that mature fully in July, but are harvested in September won't make a superior wine. The Argentinian climate apparently allows for that full maturity. The grape's thin skin requires tons of sun and heat plus the necessary fluctuation at night to properly cool the fruit. Add in well drained soil and the threat of rot dissipates. By harvest, the grape has fully matured; Malbec has found a home.
The Menoza Argentina Malbec is made dry with a medium body. Its nose contains bits of earth - tobacco and chocolate and the flavor is surprising more blackberry than cherry. There is little acidity which produces a smooth finish - and it became smoother as the wine decants. This is a good wine - very drinkable - particularly considering it comes with the stigma of arriving in a card board vessel. But that box comes with a lot of benefits - the wine stays fresher longer; it can be transported anywhere; and there's a volume discount. The box retails for about $25 and is the equivalent of 4 750ml bottles. So that's the equivalent of $6.25 a bottle. That's a bargain.
We did have a couple of other Malbec's open from the previous week; a 2008 Antis Malbec and a Corcoran Vineyards 2008 Malbec. It was difficult to compare the three since they are made in completely different styles. The Antis and Corcoran are more full bodied with the Antis the spiciest of the group. Whereas all three can be consumed immediately, the Antis and Corcoran's have the tannic content to mature with age. On the other hand, drink the Black Box Malbec now - and unfortunately - the one issue with a boxed wine is that its all too easy to turn on the spigot.