This 2009 Reserve Malbec epitomizes just how exotic this wine can be when grown in the right location. Attractive aromas of fresh-picked black berries, black tea, lavender and clove give this wine an inviting nose. The wine has a creamy entry that leads to a palate loaded with rich flavors of boysenberry pie and wild cherry fruit and violet candy. The wine has a solid mid-palate structure, yet the tannins are soft and round and lead to a lingering, spicy finish.
Winemaker Margo Van Staaveren has championed Malbec and believes the variety flourishes in Sonoma at selected sites. It has become one of her favorite wines to bottle as a varietal. The Malbec for this wine comes from the Asti Vineyard in Alexander Valley and the St. Jean Estate vineyard at our home in Sonoma Valley. The near perfect growing conditions during 2009 resulted in wines with great depth of flavor, concentrated color and excellent balance. The season started out warm and dry but saturating rains in May benefited the vines. The long, cooler than normal summer growing period allowed for extended hang time and good overall flavor development. This Malbec ripened perfectly and was safely in the winery by the time mid-October rains fell.
The Reserve Malbec was blended with a small amount of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon to round out the final blend. Individual lots of each varietal were aged separately for 30 months in small 88% French oak barrels (22% new) and 12% American oak (neutral). Barrel by barrel, each lot was tasted and the most outstanding Malbec barrels were selected and then blended with specific lots of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot to produce the final wine.