San Felipe Malbec Roble 2007 is the perfect wine for me to begin my new weekly blog. It is accessible, yummy and, based on the sold-out shelves at Whole Foods, popular. Just like the destiny of this blog. From this week until mid-December (when life takes me to Switzerland for the ski season, boo-hoo) I will focus, each Thursday, on a different delicious wine that you can find locally. From the Bywater to Riverbend and from Metarie to Midtown I will be scouring the city's wine shops and grocery stores for great wines that you cannot wait to try. I will not spend time critiquing wines that I do not recommend; if life is too short to drink bad wine, it is way too short to write about bad wine.
So, with only a bit further ado, allow me to introduce you to your new best wine. The wine that is bring-it-to-your-girlfriends-parents-when-you-visit-them-for-the-weekend good but is buy-it-by-the-case-and-open-it-for-your-neighbors-cheap.
First, the discovery: My husband, son and I had just arrived into New Orleans from London and spent our first night at Mama Glos house before moving into our construction site posing as a home. Because Mom really enjoys food, and because I love food, when we get together there is a tremendous focus on eating. No topic is too banal, nor is any ingredient too eccentric. This time, however, there was too much excitement so we unloaded the car and simply ordered pizza. After a few minutes Mom looked sheepishly toward her kitchen, Ive got a couple of bottles of wine in there if you want to open one. They were pretty cheap but the saleswoman at Whole Foods said they were good. I was tired, hungry and craving a glass of wine. We opened the Malbec first. I have to warn you, this one was only $9.99 so I dont know how good it is going to be. Fortunately I was too tired to make any prejudgments. We opened the wine, poured it into glasses, kept talking, taking sips and chatting. We continued drinking. None of us were expecting much from the wine, but individually we started swirling the wine, smelling it and sipping it. Finally we stopped talking and looked at each other. This wine was great! Mom was so proud. What a find.
We went to Whole Foods the next week, but only one bottle and the saleswoman who remembered recommending San Felipe to my mother remained. We bought the bottle and this time spent a bit more time with it. We opened it, looked at it, swirled it, sniffed it and tasted it. Was it a fluke? Could that wine have been that good? The answer: Not a fluke. Yes, it was that good.
The week before Gustav we went to Whole Foods and what was in a gigantic pyramid next to the Whole Food massage chair? A mass of San Felipe on sale for $8.99. Good work, Whole Foods!
We have had San Felipe Malbec with dry aged rib steaks, pepperoni pizza, grilled beef tenderloin, Annies Mac-n-Cheese, fried King Mackeral and Amberjack Tacos. The only real mistake was the tacos. The wine does not do well with any kind of acidity present in the food. It makes the wine fall flat and even throw out a bit of a metallic edge.
San Felipe Malbec Roble (2007) is from Mendoza, Argentina. It comes from a large winery that has its roots in Italian wine but has been making wine in Argentina for over 100 years. This particular wine spends 9-months in American Oak before bottling and that, coupled with the Malbec fruit, gives off a nose that is rich with chocolate, black cherry, spice and cedar and a flavour that includes black fruits, spice and pipe tobacco. While all of this is going on, the wine remains incredibly well balanced and smooth and is light enough to drink without food.