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San Vicente Cellars Malbec

September 04, 2015
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2012 Malbec
2012 Malbec from San Vicente Cellars.

This has been a big year for Vince Pantess, owner and winemaker at San Vicente Cellars. Not only does it mark his eight-year anniversary making wine professionally, he moved the winery’s tasting room from Camarillo to a larger Westlake Village location and in September released a 2012 Malbec.

Bottled in March, this Malbec is a new wine offering for San Vicente and uses only grapes sourced from Volgelzang Vineyard, which was also new to the winery. Malbec grapes need heat, and this vineyard is in the Santa Ynez Valley’s Happy Canyon, located in the easternmost and hottest area of the valley.

Malbec is the “rustic cousin of Merlot,” says Pantess. It’s a little “rougher around the edges,” and has crisper acidity than a Merlot, he explains, along with higher tannins and more spice notes.

The dark, inky wine is fruit-forward, displaying plum, black and blueberry on the front. Pantess suggests drinking the wine starting in December. It can be cellared for up to 10 years, he adds. As it ages, it will become more complex and “the fruit forwardness will fall away to reveal other characteristics,” he says.

Pantess made the wine using a temperature-controlled fermentation process, using one ton of fruit that yielded just 50 cases. The wine’s resulting characteristics are very expressive of a classic California Malbec, he says. It’s complex and layered, yet lighter than those typically from Napa and Paso Robles.

Serve this food-friendly wine around room temperature (70°) with fall’s heartier dishes like roasted lamb, pork roast and stews. It also pairs well with the spicy dishes of Thai or Mexican cuisine.

An “old ranch hand,” that’s what this Malbec would be if it were a person, says Pantess. Like the worker, the wine is leathery and tough, he says, but does have a soft side.

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