This 2005 Malbec I tasted with Rich Olsen-Harbich, winemaker at Raphael Vineyards. I was fortunate to take this home, taste it further, enjoy with my wife, and take notes.
Malbec is a dark purple grape that is used mainly as part of a blend when making red wine. It is known to add very dark and rich color to wine and have wonderful big tannins, which enhance wine. It is found in southwest France and is known in that region at Côt noir. However, the popularity of the grape has caused an increase in production in Argentina, where if you walk down the South American isle of you wine shop you will see this varietal from almost every vineyard.
The grape is in need of sun to ripen, more so than heat. It ripens mid season. It is known to bring plum like flavors and floral aromatics like violet to wine. It is blended often with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, but you will also see it blended with Cabernet Franc, mostly in the Loire Valley and in Bordeaux style blends.
Her on Long Island, there are a number of Vineyards that grow Malbec. It is not often that you see a Malbec release from such a vineyard. It is usually fermented in oak, usually for two years at least, if not more. Most vineyards will not release a Malbec unless it was a prime season, and 2005 was.
This is from Rich Olsen-Harbich, “The 2005 vintage was the driest growing season on Eastern Long Island in almost 60 years. Rainfall from May through October 1 totaled approximately 7 inches – the average for the region during this same period is approx. 15-19 inches. The dry conditions combined with steady, warm temperatures provided us with extremely ripe and concentrated fruit and a harvest season that began 2 weeks earlier than normal.” 2005 was known as one of the best on Long Island, sine 2001, but the 2007 season will far surpass that.
In the glass, you could see the dark inky color that you typically see in a malbec. There were big juicy dark berries on the nose; I was falling in love with the bouquet of this wine. The berries we very prominent, Blackberry all the way. I was also picking up some leather and tobacco, it reminded me of opening up my humidor to have a cigar, when I used to smoke them.I was tasting this with Rich, the first word that came to mind was comfort. I saw a warm soft blanket. I felt as if I could wrap myself with this wine.
The taste was so welcoming and just warmed me to my bones. There were some of the dark berry notes, but the plum notes were so heavy. It truly was like taking a bite from a juicy plum. There were some earthy notes on the palate, which enhanced the warmness of the wine. There was a spice element too that was helping make this a complex and satisfying wine.
This was a full-bodied wine and had a wonderful velvety mouth feel that kept me wanting more. I had this with a grilled flank steak and baked potato. It went so well.
This is a wine for a big appetite, but unfortunately, this is not available to purchase. It was and may still be available to wine club members. If you ever, ever have a chance, join their wine club. Raphael only produced 80 cases of this jewel. It retailed at $30.00, and to me it was more like $40.00, if not more.
I was a Malbec fan before this, but now I am a Malbec groupie because of this Raphael 2005 Malbec.
If you see a vineyard offer Malbec on their tasting flight, then go for it, take a taste or a glass, and if you like it, buy a bottle. If may be on the more expensive side, but you will be satisfied the next time you open it.
Better yet, join Raphael’s wine club and you may get this wine or another Malbec in the future.
I am hoping that more vineyards grow and bottle Malbec. It is a wine that can happen here on Long Island, and it can be done perfectly, as Raphael has with this wine.
Very nice review. I’m not surprised that Rich has such a deft touch with this, considering his Merlot. I wonder if more producers will bottle Malbec on its own — and if more growers will plant it. Seems to have very nice potential on Long Island.
Thanks for the nice words. I am hoping for more Long Island Vineyards to bottle a Malbec. It is even nicer when they do it for prime seasons like the 2001, 2005 and the 2007 growing seasons. After my visit with Rich at Raphael, the conversation we had about Malbec leads me to believe that it is possible to grow and have potential. Here is hoping that Malbec might be showing up in tasting rooms more often!
The big issue, as Evan alludes, is that there just isn’t that much planted here. And it’s a big investment obviously to rip out productive vines (although I’d love to see some chard ripped out haha) to plant Malbec…but the potential is definitely there.
Rip out the Chardonnay! First you call for no-oaked Chard, now you want it out all together…. 😉
I can understand the major undertaking, no pun intended, to planting Malbec when you have producing vines. I often wonder which is more expensive, the land or the plantings?
When, (notice i said when, not if) i win the lotto, I will be planting Malbec, Petite Verdot, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Gewürztraminer for my wife. That is it and I would be very happy, though, I might be broke from drinking it all myself.
There are some vineyards that grow it and use it, but mainly for blending. It would be nice to see those vineyards issues a special release every so often.
I think the land costs are the issue out there…but it ain’t cheap to rip out and replant either!
If it were me, I’d have cab franc, merlot, sauvignon blanc, chenin blanc and some pinot blanc and pinot noir (both for sparkling) I think. Fun to think about for sure 😉
My point with the chard is…if they HAVE to keep it, let’s do less obvious (or no oak). Channing Daughters’ Scuttlehole chard should be a model!