Maipú Malbec

First introduced to South America by French Agronomist Miguel Pouget in the 1850’s, Argentina’s signature Malbec grape has gone through numerous cycles of being in and out of commercial favour. For most of the 20th-century, Argentinean winemakers were focused on outputting vast volumes of bulk wine for local consumption, and Malbec was often just used to bolster the colour and body of these low-grade blends. Following from generations of experience, the adapted cultivars of the Malbec grape gradually revealed their potential for yielding premium grades of varietal wine that was suitable for a highly competitive international marketplace. From it transplanted roots in the French Cahors region to thriving in now famed Mendoza, the hearty, thick-skinned variety has endured–becoming a go-to favourite for lovers of big-bodied, highly characterful red wine.

Centred in the city of Maipú at the foot of the iconic Andean mountains, Bodega Trapiche is no Argentinean upstart as it received its first international award in Paris in 1889. From its modest beginnings in 1883 as a small plot called El Trapiche, the winery has consistently been an innovative force in developing Argentina’s wine industry. It even built a railway link to the capital, Buenos Aires, to better ensure the timely delivery of wine to market. Building on these successes, Trapiche now oversees 1,255 hectares of vineyards and works collaboratively with 300 other local growers. It’s also managed to become a leading South American influence on applying biodynamic farming practices that aim to preserve the natural balance of both the fruit crops and their surrounding ecosystems. In gradually eliminating the use of chemicals, herbicides and fungicides, the strategy is desirable for both ecological sustainability and the payoff of producing wines that are more representative of the regional terroir. And, so it does!

For this week’s DéClassé recommended bottling of Trapiche Medalla Malbec 2014, the grapes are selectively sourced from vineyards in the higher elevations of the Uco Valley–a sub-region that’s particularly conducive to cultivating fulsome yet still fresh versions of this wine style. If you are already a Malbec fan, then you’re unlikely to find a more over-achieving bottle at this modest price-point. If it’s time to top up your longer-term cellar stock on a budget, then this addition will become even more rounded over the coming 2–5yrs. If you’re incapable of waiting, then fully decant an hour or so in advance of enjoying. I doubt you’ll be refilling much of it back into the bottle.

Vintages/LCBO – Product #547869 | 750 mL bottle
Price $17.00
14.5% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content Descriptor: XD

Made in Mendoza, Argentina
By: Grupo Penaflor Sa
Release Date: September 1, 2018

Tasting Note
Along with its deep ruby colour, this wine has heady aromas and flavours of plum and blackberry fruits. Also, expect many of the classic Malbec spice and vanilla notes and a hint of smoky toast in among reasonably smooth tannins. Try serving with grilled meats, hearty stews, maple-roasted squash, spicy empanadas or mushroom risotto.

Treviso Prosecco

Historical references to lightly sparkling wines in the Veneto region date to the 1100’s, though these were much sweeter in the 12th century compared to the popular versions being fashioned today. With the burgeoning international profile and interest in this delightful wine style, progressive Italian producers have had to take pro-active steps toward guarding the unique, regional nature of their Spumante. The traditional grape family used for the bubbliest of all Italian white wines was known as Prosecco for a very long time; likely, originating from around the namesake town that lies close by to the Slovenian border. The official reclassifying of the name to Glera in 2009 now means that these grapevines can be cultivated and marketed in other wine-producing regions in the world, but only those wines which specifically originate from Prosecco DOCG and its various sub-regions may be labelled as bona fide Prosecco.

Though sparkling wines from Italy’s north-eastern corner are distinctive,  the vintners have employed and innovated the French production method called Charmat to achieve their form. After initial fermentation, the second infusion of yeast continues the converting of sugars and provokes the carbonation that provides the wine with its bubbly character. This essential finishing step is done in large, pressurized stainless steel tanks rather than in the bottle, and so, results in fresh and crisp fruit flavours with less of the toasted character that’s typical in its distant, French Crémant cousins.

This week’s feature of Mionetto Prestige Prosecco Treviso Brut comes from the hillside vineyards of the Treviso sub-region. Founded initially by Francesco Mionetto in 1887, the modern-day Tenuta (winery) is now part of the German Henkell consortium that has a credible reputation for fashioning and marketing well-made bulk wines in the sparkling category–at approachable price-points. Just north of the namesake town of  Treviso, grapes are harvested mostly in the second half of September, so now is an opportune time to sample last year’s results.

Serve well-chilled, and keep the remaining bottle cooled while enjoying it in a wide-mouthed goblet rather than in slender stemware. Your brunch guests will appreciate you having a second bottle standing by–brimming with steely fruit–to top them up. At $17.00 each, that won’t break your budget or disappoint!

LCBO – Product #483339 | 750 mL bottle
Price $17.00
11% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content Descriptor: D

Made in Veneto, Italy
By: Henkell & Sohnlein Sektkellereien
Release Date: May 1, 2018

Tasting Note
This informal, straw-yellow sparkler has an abundance of fresh apple, white peach, and apricot aromas and flavours, with some nut and honey notes wrapped up in a frothy body. Try serving with Brunch food fare or as a spritzy apéritif with smoked salmon canapes, savoury pastry appetizers or skewers of grilled fish.