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Wine of the week: Gnarly Head Malbec

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Wine drinkers well remember the pinot noir juggernaut that rumbled across the winemaking landscape not so long ago, toppling some previously favored reds, most notably merlot, from their top-shelf positions. A new juggernaut is on the loose now, this one labeled malbec, and everybody and her sister is on board.

A California winery best known for its old-vines zinfandel (there once was a zin juggernaut, too) has entered the fray with the 2012 Gnarly Head Malbec (about $12), fermented from grapes grown in Argentina’s celebrated Mendoza region, the cradle of malbec in the foothills of the Andes.

This pleasant red sports a robust bouquet of blackberry and black pepper, both of which break ebulliently on the tongue, along with mocha, black cherry, cassis and a bit of blueberry. It is a rousingly harmonious blend of flavors, asserted by a long velvety finish spiked with more black pepper at the end.

Malbec is a fine and versatile food wine, but the first pairing we thought of is with smoky barbecued ribs.

— Colette and John Bancroft

St. Petersburg Times


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