Graffigna “Centenario” Malbec 2010 | San Juan, Argentina
Malbec has taken the USA by storm over the past few years; it's becoming this generation's Merlot. With so many examples in varying styles coming up from Argentina — and more recently, from other areas of the globe — it's important to me, for selfish reasons, to keep track of the ones I enjoy.
Graffigna is a label I see frequently on restaurant lists, usually by-the-glass. Several times I passed on ordering it, simply because I couldn't remember if it was a Malbec I liked, or not. Does that ever happen to you? This is pretty much the main reason I keep a blog of my tastings — because the older I get, the more my mind fails! Anyway, on to the tasting notes and review.
On the nose I get notes of black fruit, dark chocolate, some spice, minty eucalyptus, and hints of earth. In the mouth I get spice, spice, and more spice, with a quick hit of sweet blueberry, touch of tobacco, and black berry fruit. On its own, the palate bites a bit — there's too much acidity and alcohol, especially when the wine is at room temperature (which is too warm for red wine, anyway). I chilled it down to a more reasonable temp (58 degrees) and the biting sensation went away; I recommend you chill down most red wines to between 55-60 degrees. Still, by itself it's not a star — but it shows itself grandly with food. I successfully paired it with baby-back ribs from Houlihans (yes, I'm ashamed to admit it; but, Houlie's is across the street from my abode, and there are few other reasonably priced take-out choices within walking distance). Though the ribs may have been a touch too sweet, Graffigna Malbec stood up well and did a yeoman's job — mainly because of its rich, spicy flavor. Probably, a better match would have been a Zinfandel or one of those California “red blends” that are taking the US by storm lately (the residual sugar of blends would match well with the slightly sweet BBQ sauce). I firmly believe Graffigna Malbec is a solid burger wine, and will also pair well with other beef dishes (steaks, particularly flank, london broil, and skirt steaks), as well as roast lamb, blackened chicken, and rich cheeses.