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Flat front label of wine

Ruca Malen Malbec Reserva 2011

Malbec from Mendoza, Argentina
  • WS91
14.5% ABV
  • JS90
  • JS91
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14.5% ABV

Winemaker Notes

The layered bouquet opens with ripe red and black fruit, particularly cherries and plums, and is backed by floral notes of violets. It is lush on the palate with elegantly concentrated flavors and sweet, velvety tannins. A pleasant acidity keeps it fresh through the lingering, persistent finish.

Critical Acclaim

All Vintages
WS 91
Wine Spectator
A big-shouldered red, with plenty of muscle behind the well-structured dark plum, blackberry and tobacco leaf flavors. Creamy midpalate, featuring a dense core of mushroom and savory herbal notes. Finishes with plenty of grip.
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Ruca Malen

Ruca Malen

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Ruca Malen, Mendoza, Argentina
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Ruca Malen, meaning “the house of the young girl,” takes its name from an indigenous legend of the Mapuche Indians. A young tribal woman looked up to the heavens and fell in love with a handsome god. He gifted her a house, overlooking the world’s splendors. The beauty of the Ruca Malen estate reminds of this location.

The founders, Jean Pierre Thibaud and Jacques Louis de Montalembert, share familial relations to some of France’s foremost winemaking houses. From their time spent together at Chandon Argentina, Thibaud and Montalembert saw the incredible potential of Mendoza as a winemaking region and endeavored to produce wines that drew from their French heritage while uniquely expressing Mendoza’s incredible terroir. They recruited enologist Pablo Cúneo, who’s intimate knowledge of Argentinean terroirs and winemaking expertise has led him to be one of the most respected winemakers in Mendoza.

Ruca Malen believes that the wines are made in the vineyards; they devote themselves to understanding the terroir. The profound knowledge of the diverse microterroirs along the Andes Mountain Range is evident in every sip. Ruca Malen’s vineyard holdings span the Uco Valley, Tupungato, and Lujan de Cuyo, with the vast majority in the Uco Valley. Planted in 1996 along the base of the Andes in sandy loam, rocky, porous soil, at an altitude of 1000 meters above sea level, the unique microclimate can be characterized as Mediterranean, where warm sunny days are balanced by cool breezy nights that allow the grapes to mature steadily.

Hand-crafted using traditional French winemaking techniques in a modern facility equipped with the latest technology, the goal is to produce elegant, food-friendly wines that express the true identity of each varietal. Ruca Malen boasts a portfolio of high quality wines that accentuate the varietal’s natural characteristics, while reflecting a sense of place, and conveying a level of excellence in craftsmanship.

By far the largest and best-known winemaking province in Argentina, Mendoza is responsible for over 70% of the country’s enological output. Set in the eastern foothills of the Andes Mountains, the climate is dry and continental, presenting relatively few challenges for viticulturists during the growing season. Mendoza is divided into several distinctive sub-regions, including Luján de Cuyo and the Uco Valley—two sources of some of the country’s finest wines.

For many wine lovers, Mendoza is practically synonymous with Malbec, originally a Bordelaise variety brought to Argentina by the French in the mid-1800s. Here it found success and renown it never could have achieved in its homeland due to its struggle to ripen fully in finicky climates. Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot, and Pinot Noir are all widely planted here as well (and often blended with one another. The best white wines are made from Chardonnay, and there are excellent examples to be found as well from Torrontés, Sauvignon Blanc, and Sémillon.

Known for its big, bold flavors and supple texture, Malbec is most famous for its runaway success in Argentina. However, the variety actually originates in Bordeaux, where it historically contributed color and tannin to blends but was susceptible to viticultural problems. After being nearly wiped out by a devastating frost in 1956, it was never significantly replanted, although it did flourish under the name Côt in nearby Cahors. Malbec was brought to Argentina in 1868 by a French agronomist who saw great potential for the variety in Mendoza’s hot, high-altitude landscape, but did not gain its current reputation as the national grape of Argentina until a surge in popularity in the late 20th century thanks to its easy-going drinkability.

In the Glass

Malbec typically expresses deep flavors of freshly turned earth, black fruits from berries to plums, and licorice, appropriately backed by dense, chewy tannins. In warmer, New World regions, such as Mendoza, it can be quite intense and often needs time to mellow before becoming drinkable. In the Old World, its rusticity shines, with aged examples showing dusty notes of leather and tobacco. The best examples in all regions often possess a beguiling bouquet of violets.

Perfect Parings

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.

Sommelier Secret

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.

TGI13403_2011 Item# 136631