Thursday, January 22, 2015

Malbec: Henry Earl Estates 2012

Oh the joy of Malbec. It's that dark purple inky little grape with a French and Argentinian lineage, that often finds its way into my glass.  And like many Malbecs before, the 2012 Henry Earl Estates Malbec also found its way into my glass - - until the last drop. 

Who is Henry Earl Estates, you ask? The owners of Henry Earl Estates are Dick and Wendy Shaw. They chose to honor both of their fathers, Henry Shaw and Earl West, and
especially Dick and Wendy's focus on Shaw Vineyards, their property in the very prominent Red Mountain AVA in Washington State.

In 1981, Dick Shaw first started the vineyards with 100 acres near Mattawa, WA. He would meet Wendy and together they planted more vines, approximately 300 acres. At that time, Wendy formed a harvesting business, and now Wendy and Dick have around 2,200 acres planted in Eastern Washington. These acres include 420 acres on Red Mountain. They have also taken on partnerships with Quintessence and Obelisco Vineyards.  In 2014, Henry Earl Estates opened their tasting room, Main Street, Walla Walla.  Their winemaking team is Charlie Hoppes (Team Red) and Victor Palencia (Team White). Surely, these names must ring a bell? 

I could go on and on about the wonderful, Bohemian-like, charming and cozy environment (looks like the inside of my house) of Henry Earl Estates tasting room, but that shall be saved for another time. Let's focus on the Malbec, shall we?  

Flat out - - this Malbec is on my list of favorites.  The nose was floral and it was smooth as silk on the palate, especially the second night after opening. The first night the tannins left me a reminder they were there.  The next evening, the Malbec really showed itself off with
the violets, cola, dark blackberries, and just a hint of graham cracker and spice.  The oak was kept to a minimum so it didn't distract from the essence of the fruit. It's a rich and luscious wine that I would recommend pairing with sticky barbecued western or Asian-style ribs, "elevated" burgers, and grilled vegetables.

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