Cabernet Day could not have come at a better time. After tasting many Rieslings in the past week on a quest for the perfect, crowd-pleasing, moderately-priced wine, I was more than ready for some red wine!
I first encountered Bodega Ruca Malen in 2005 on a trip to Mendoza with fellow blogger Eleni. At the time, Ruca Malen was producing about 20,000 cases a year, all for export, but was having trouble breaking into the US market. We were both impressed with the wines, the commitment to quality, and the beauty of the setting and the winery itself. Set a bit further out from Mendoza’s more established wineries, Ruca Malen has a stunning, unobstructed view to the Andes Mountains from its doorstep. Like many great wineries, Ruca Malen has a great story. It was co-founded by Jean Pierre Thibaud, the former Chairman of Bodegas Chandon Argentina, and Jacques Louis de Montalembert. According to the story, he had long wanted to make truly Argentine wines, but the executives in France wanted to continue the course. After ten years as Chairman, he left and established Ruca Malen in 1999. The name of the winery and the individual wines are a story onto themselves and tie back to the Mapuche Indians and their legend of Aconcagua.
A couple of years after Eleni and I visited Mendoza, I had the good fortune of meeting Antoine Thibaud, Jean Pierre’s son, at a wine tasting in New York. I couldn’t help but express my enthusiasm. I told him how much I liked the story of the winery. “Oh, you like the legend?,” he asked. No, I replied, I like the fact that his father had left a major international company to make wine that expressed a uniquely Argentine character and that he was doing it well. The New York tasting served to confirm the impression with which I left Mendoza: that this is an exciting winery that will continue to make great wines.
Enough of my rambling story; on to the wine!
I admit that I was a bit hesitant about my choice for Cabernet Day. This bottle is now six years old and purchased probably in 2007. Not that this is a problem, since Cabernet Sauvignon produces some of the longest lasting wines. However, I was worried that it may not have been stored under ideal conditions all this time and that I may be opening a bottle of vinegar.
But there was no need to worry. The color was still a relatively fresh garnet, though the big difference between the rim and the core gave away the wine’s age. The nose was classic New World Cabernet Sauvignon: red and black currant, ripe berries, dark chocolate, with cinnamon and clove. On the palate the fruit combined with smokiness and sweet vanilla. This big, dry red was a super antidote to the series of Rieslings. It is full-bodied, with high acidity, grippy tannins, and high alcohol. It finishes with notes of the dark chocolate and cedar.
A delightful choice for Cabernet Day!