Latta Malbec Northridge Vineyard 2011
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Latta Wines was founded in 2011 by winemaker and owner Andrew Latta. The product of 10 years of sweat equity as a cellar hand who worked his way to winemaker at a notable Washington winery, Andrew is proud to release his personal wines to you. Born and raised in Kentucky, the restaurant world was his path to wine. A similar trajectory up from the basement as a busser to a Sommelier working in Thailand exposed him to the wines of world. While developing award-winning wine programs, Washington State stood out among all the emerging and traditional wine-growing regions. So, sight unseen, more than a decade ago he jumped into his first harvest in Walla Walla and year after year Washington keeps delivering.
Distinguished by a broad, south-exposed, uniform slope and landlocked by the Columbia River to its south and Saddle Mountains to its north, the Wahluke Slope AVA of Washington holds 15% of the total vine acreage of the state and takes its name from the Native American word for “watering place.”
Incidentally the Wahluke Slope AVA has one of the hottest and driest climates of the state so irrigation is not only essential, but also allows complete grower control of vine vigor. On top of its arid and warm environment, strong summer winds blow across this broad slope and ensure both smaller leaf size and grape clusters. The result is top quality wines with great concentration, phenolic ripeness, body and depth of flavor.
Vineyards cover the AVA from 425 to 1,480 feet along the slope. Its deep soils of wind-blown alluvium and sand with a depth, on average, of more than 5 feet along the continuous grade allow optimal drainage for the vines.
Merlots are rich in sweet, ripe cherry, red currant, raspberry and cocoa. Syrahs tend to express black and blue fruit along with savory notes. Wahluke Cabernets are rich in stewed red and black berries.
Known for its big, bold flavors and supple texture, Malbec is most famous for its runaway success in Argentina. However, the variety actually originated in Bordeaux, where it historically contributed color and tannin to blends. After being nearly wiped out by a devastating frost in 1956, it was never significantly replanted, although it continued to flourish under the name Côt in nearby Cahors. A French agronomist who saw great potential for the variety in Mendoza’s hot, high-altitude landscape, brought Malbec to Argentina in 1868. But it did not gain its current reputation as the country's national grape until a surge in popularity in the late 20th century.
In the Glass
Malbec typically expresses deep flavors of blackberry, plum and licorice, appropriately backed by aromas of freshly turned earth and dense, chewy tannins. In warmer, New World regions, such as Mendoza, Malbec will be intensely ripe, and full of fruit and spice. From its homeland in Cahors, its rusticity shines; dusty notes and a beguiling bouquet of violets balance rich, black fruit.
Malbec’s rustic character begs for flavorful dishes, like spicy grilled sausages or the classic cassoulet of France’s Southwest. South American iterations are best enjoyed as they would be in Argentina: with a thick, juicy steak.
If you’re trying to please a crowd, Malbec is generally a safe bet. With its combination of bold flavors and soft tannins, it will appeal to basically anyone who enjoys red wine. Malbec also wins bonus points for affordability, as even the most inexpensive examples are often quite good.