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Most premium Malbecs can be counted on to capture the eye with their deep purple robes and flashes of violet, but few beckon and sparkle in the glass the way the 2010 Casarena Jamilla’s Vineyard does. Brilliant to the eye, beguiling to the nose, and smooth on the palate, the 2010 Jamilla’s Vineyard provides the best that Malbec has to offer. In fact, this Malbec tastes even better than it looks. As one would expect, the 2010 Jamilla’s Vineyard Malbec offers plenty of color and flavor, yet it eschews the rusticity and splintery tannins that too often accompany lesser Malbecs. Instead, this outstanding rendition offers beautiful berry and leaf flavors, savory spice tones tinged with orange peel, and a velvety texture framed by refined ripe tannins. Supple, balanced, and complete, Casarena proves in their Jamilla’s Vineyard offering that Malbec can possess true refinement and depth of flavor as well as considerable body and muscle. For the record, this wine deserves the lofty 94 point score Decanter Magazine awarded it and that magazine’s pick as “Best Argentinean Malbec of the Year.” Give this young Malbec at least thirty minutes of aeration and enjoy it at cool room temperature (60º-65ºF).
In Argentina, there would be little doubt as to the proper accompaniment to Casarena’s 2010 Jamilla’s Vineyard Malbec. It would be beef, beef, and more beef, but in the case of this wine, we think not just any cut of beef. Our preferences lie with Prime Rib au jus, Grilled Filet Mignon, and Beef Tenderloin encrusted with black pepper and herbs. Grilled Stuffed Veal Chops served with roasted Red Bliss potatoes and caramelized Brussels sprouts with pancetta provide wonderful companionship for Casarena’s Jamilla’s Vineyard Malbec, too. Rack of Lamb and savory pork roasts make fine accompaniments as well. Eggplant or Chicken Parmigiana offers another tasty accompaniment. A heart healthy vegetarian black bean and rice dish won’t disappoint, either. Buen Provecho!
Casarena is a young boutique winery that enjoys a well-deserved reputation for producing wines of uncompromising quality at all levels of its portfolio. In a land of extremes and in a viticultural region known equally for oceans of cheap, hunky one dimensional wines as well as expensive, complex full-bodied masterpieces, Casarena shines as a beacon of quality and value. Situated in Mendoza’s premier viticultural areas of Agrelo and Lujan de Cuyo, Casarena’s ultimate goal is to become Mendoza’s greatest vineyard project. Casarena utilizes Mendoza’s finest terroirs at differing elevations to produce world class wines.
Eno Rolland (renowned Bordeaux oenologist Michel Rolland’s team of consultants) oversees the vinification at Casarena. So, not surprisingly, Casarena’s definitive mantra is “less quantity, more quality.” All of the grapes for Casarena’s wines come from the estate’s own vineyards and the resulting wines are made by controlling every aspect of the vinification process. Casarena sets high standards for its wines. It sells in bulk any juice that does not come up to its standards in order to maintain the consistency, quality and integrity of the wine sold as Casarena – a rarity in Argentina. Alejandro Sejanovich, of Catena fame, spearheads the viticulture at Casarena, ensuring that every plant reaches its maximum potential.
The Casarena line of wine hails from carefully selected parcels of vineyards that have been aged in 100% new French Oak. Only small batches of Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Malbec with intense color and aromatics qualify as Estate Reserve or Single Vineyard offerings. Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Malbec constitute the lion share of the estate’s production, with the limited bottling of the Casarena Jamilla’s Vineyard serving as the winery’s flagship offering. Casarena’s Sauvignon Blanc merits high marks as well. Much of the estate’s grapes come from a parcel of old vines that Casarena purchased shortly after founding the winery. The winery’s Estate Reserve offerings provide unsurpassed quality and value. In coming years, Casarena plans to introduce several additional single vineyard varietals and blends.
Malbec is one of the original red wine grapes of Bordeaux, France (where it is called Cot or Pressac). While Malbec plays a purely supporting role today in Bordeaux, adding color and body to the region’s Merlot and Cabernet blends, it remains one of the six legal grape varieties permitted in red Bordeaux (along with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot, and Carmenère). However, south of Bordeaux in the region of Cahors, Malbec still reigns supreme. It remains the chief grape used in what historically has been called the "black wine” of Cahors.
Despite its deep French roots, Argentina has come to fore as the contemporary champion of Malbec, where the varietal reigns as the most important grape variety, both in terms of quality and quantity. The best Argentinean Malbecs and Malbec blends offer considerable flavor and body at a relative young age, yet they remain age worthy wines capable of true distinction.
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