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Tilia Malbec 2017
Pair this Malbec with a meat dish that mirrors its tangy berry flavors like cranberry pot roast or roast duck with sour cherry sauce.
The Tilia wines are made at Bodegas Esmeralda, a Catena family winery in the Eastern region of Mendoza that is dedicated to making value wines for the Argentine domestic market. Tilia wines offer a unique combination of fruit sourced from the traditional Eastern region and the dynamic Southern region of Mendoza. The Eastern region of Mendoza enjoys warm, sunny days and cool desert nights. The grapes have very ripe, rich fruit flavors and excellent mid-palate depth and concentration. Bright sunshine and low temperatures of the Southern region lend a cool freshness. The fruit from this area shows clean acid balance and soft, supple tannins.
Tilia is dedicated to responsible use of the environment. The winemaking and viticultural team actively engage in many practices and programs throughout the community to implement sustainability. Water conservation and reuse, minimal use of pesticides and organic fertilization are several examples of the team’s dedication. Furthermore, the entire Tilia viticultural team attends regular sustainability training sessions at the National University of Cuyo and National Agricultural Research Institute. They take this training into the field to share and implement with their grower partners.
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.