The Tasting Panel magazine

June 2013

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GLASSWARE After Merlot THE RIEDEL MALBEC GLASS ARRIVES by Becky Sue Epstein PHOTO COURTESY OF PERNOD RICARD USA The Riedel Malbec glass was developed in association with Argentine producer Graffigna. Graffigna 2011 Centenario Malbec Reserve, San Juan, Argentina ($15) Tasted from the Riedel Malbec glass, this release delivers black raspberry, plum and cassis on a smooth, silky texture, balance by bright, vibrant notes; charming and lengthy with a graceful finish. An amazing value. 90 points. —Anthony Dias Blue W hen people ask me about finding a great Merlot that doesn't cost a lot, lately I've been referring them to Malbec. Though Merlot and Malbec do share a parent, that's not the reason. The real reason is because people are searching for the very pleasant wine experience they used to have with Merlot before it became persona non grata in the Sideways era. Wine consumers want to relax with a reliable red wine that's well-made and personable, has some structure and some fruit and doesn't break the bank. A weekday wine that over-delivers. And that is what many Malbec wines are today. But with popularity, comes pressure. Pressure to drive up the quality— and the price follows. We are at the beginning of that cycle with Malbec. Bodegas Graffigna recognized this when they asked über-wineglass makers Riedel to craft a Malbec glass. They wanted to be ready. Bodegas Graffigna was established in 1870, in the San Juan area north of Mendoza, Argentina. Riedel has been making glassware since 1673, beginning in Eastern Europe. Now headquartered in Austria, the family rose to fame after the current patriarch, Georg Reidel, took over in 1987 and began creating the first series of wineglasses in which each shape is targeted for a different type of wine. Each glass is created to enhance one style of wine, and one only. The new Malbec glass began its evolution when Georg Riedel was asked to taste the Graffigna Malbecs. He decided that the Malbec glass would need to have a large bowl to function as an "aroma chamber" for the wine. He selected 16 possible shapes, which were then narrowed down to five shapes with key personnel from Graffigna, including an Argentine sommelier and Graffigna ambassador Federico Lleonart, who presented the finished glass in the United States recently. Malbecs were tasted in these five glass shapes with various experts, including the Graffigna winemaking team in Argentina and wine journalists in New York. As the story goes, the same shape was consistently picked as the top glass to enhance the Malbecs. Now the glass has been made, and it will available through Graffigna for the first year; after that it will be on the open market. (It is now sold online in sets of six, at $11 per glass, at www.; restaurant accounts can contact their Pernod Ricard rep for full information.) When I tasted several Graffigna Malbecs in the Riedel Malbec glass, it was clear that this glass does emphasize significant aromas and flavors in the wine, and allows its long finish to penetrate the palate. As a contrast, I also sampled the same Graffigna Malbec wines in a glass made for Pinot Noir, and in a standard restaurant Cabernet glass. The Malbec tasted more like Pinot Noir in the Pinot Noir glass; it had an earthiness that is not generally part of Malbec's character. In the restaurant glass, the Malbec showed more fruit, but it was less open in general. Restaurateurs are in a position to make every effort to enhance their customers' experience. Malbec is on the ascendency—and restaurateurs will want to take note of the debut of the definitive Malbec glass. 98  /  the tasting panel  /  june 2013 TP0613_080-119.indd 98 5/23/13 5:30 PM TOC

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