It’s quite possible that right this moment you’re thinking, "Malbec from California, really?" However it shouldn’t be that big of a surprise as many vintners grow it and blend small amounts into stand-alone Cabernet, Merlot or Bordeaux inspired blends to name a few. At Rodney Strong, Malbec has long been an important component in Symmetry their Meritage. One vintage after another, Symmetry is a well-made and approachable Bordeaux inspired blend. In a category where prices can easily reach triple digits, Symmetry remains a terrific value ($55 SRP) too. I find it deliciously reliable year after year. Considering this Malbec sits in the same tier as Symmetry and includes different proportions of some of the same grapes they’re basically kissing cousins. So it’s fair to say I was pretty excited to sample it.
Rodney Strong 2013 Sonoma County Reserve Malbec ($40)
In addition to Malbec (92%), small amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon (4%), and Petit Verdot (4%) were blended in. Aging took place over 22 months in largely French oak, 25% of the barrels new. A dark, brooding nose leads things off here with black cherry and plum aromas in evidence. Hints of vanilla and spice pop out too. The palate is simultaneously layered, intense and refined. Oodles of black raspberry along with red and black cherry dominate. Blackberry chicory, baker’s chocolate and black pepper are each evident on the persistent finish. Firm acid and meaty tannins provide excellent structure.
If you’re looking for a fruit bomb, this isn’t that Malbec. This is a complex, well-structured wine that while delicious now, will taste even better in two or three years when it’s evolved a little bit. It’s going to pair well with roasted meats to be sure. But I had it alongside Pappardelle with Pesto that was dusted with Pecorino and it worked quite nicely.
It’s good to see Rodney Strong showcasing a grape that has been a behind the scene workhorse for them. They’ve expanded their plantings of Malbec in recent years. I expect that as the vines age the wines will likely be even better. That said this is a terrific inaugural vintage. World Malbec Day is coming up on April 17th, this new offering is a great way to celebrate.