There might be a turf war in our midst. For many years, Argentina has hung its wine hat on Malbec, a red wine so smooth, so drinkable and food friendly that Americans fell hard and fast for this grape. But enter one of their neighbors… Chile. Bastion of Carmenere, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, they’re taking the Malbec leap. Successfully, I might add.
Casillero de Diablo Malbec hails interestingly from Chile’s Rapel Valley. Warm and dry, Rapel is known for Cabernet Sauvignon and Carmenere. Its climate is very similar to Napa Valley where the north-south mountain ranges shelter it from the Pacific Ocean and trap warmth over the grapes. One of the newest arrivals varietals in this region is Malbec.
The Casillero de Diablo Malbec from Concha y Toro winery is decidedly a food wine — not one to be gulped gratuitously at a club. Different from the easy-drinking version their neighbors produce, this Malbec is high in acidity, young and dark fruit centric; it needs fat to tame the tight tannins and slightly peppery notes. That said, it’s a chameleon wine that transforms when introduced to the plate. Blackberry, plum, black cherry and leather come together with a black peppery finish which meld stupendously with beef-based dishes.
Sweetness: 1 out of 10
Price: $8 – $12
Occasion: Sent as a sample from the winery.
Availability: Grocery stores nationwide.
Food pairing: Very nice with meatloaf, osso bucco, grilled ribeye steaks (the fattier, the better) and semi-hard cheeses like Manchego.