Tilia Malbec 2015
Pair this Malbec with a meat dish that mirrors its tangy berry flavors like cranberry pot roast or roast duck with sour cherry sauce.
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Made at Bodegas Esmeralda, Tilia has been handcrafted to demonstrate true varietal character. The brand is named after the Tilia (Linden) tree commonly found throughout Argentina’s wine country. Vineyard workers often make tea from the flowers of this tree and enjoy time sitting in the shade after a hard day’s work. These wines are a tribute to those workers and to the Argentinean way of living life to the fullest, enjoying every moment and relaxing in the natural environment the land provides. These inviting selections are approachable, affordable and filled with layers of flavor. Tilia wines offer a unique combination of fruit sourced from the traditional Eastern region and the dynamic Southern region of Mendoza. The Eastern region is one of the oldest and most recognized viticultural regions in Mendoza. It enjoys warm, sunny days and cool, desert nights. The fruit from this area offers ripe flavors and excellent mid-palate depth and concentration. The Southern region is considered to be one of the most premier growing areas in Mendoza. At 4,000 feet above sea level, the higher elevation offers much lower temperatures. This allows for more aromatic intensity and higher levels of natural acid creating freshness and balance in the wines. Grapes from this region have very intense aromas and bring a fresh characteristic to the wines. In addition to these general regions, Tilia’s Torrontes grapes are sourced from Cafayate, Salta in the Northwestern region. Alejandro Viggiani is the winemaker and viticulturalist in charge of Tilia. Viggiani graduated with honors from the Universidad Nacional de Cuyo in Mendoza with a degree in agricultural engineering. Continuing his education, he attended the viticulture and winemaking master’s program jointly held by the Universidad Nacional de Cuyo and the prestigious Eccie National Superieure Agronomique de Montpellier, where he specialized in vine physiology. Tilia wines are aged in French and American oak, as well as stainless steel, and are allowed some time in bottle prior to release. They are produced in an approachable style using sustainably farmed grapes.
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, divided into several distinctive sub-regions, including Luján de Cuyo and the Uco Valley, is the source 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 that it never knew in its homeland where a finicky climate gives mixed results. Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot and Pinot Noir are all widely planted here as well (and sometimes even blended with each other or Malbec). Mendoza's main white varieties include Chardonnay, 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 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.