With my post about Malbec a couple of weeks ago I’m now halfway through Wine Folly’s Noble Grape Challenge. Created as a challenge to learn about the range of wine, the Noble Grape Challenge lists nine red and nine white ‘noble’ varieties – generally speaking, the most widely planted varieties throughout the world – and challenges the reader to taste through them all as a way of getting to know the breadth and depth of wine created throughout the world.
At this point it feels like a good time to take a look back on how things went and a look ahead at what awaits.
It’s time for the next installment of the Noble Grape Challenge. This time around we learn about our last red variety, which means after this post we’ll officially be halfway through the list. Last time we explored the wild and wacky world of Syrah/Shiraz, and today we get to know Malbec.
About the Noble Grape Challenge
Let’s refresh ourselves on what’s going on here – Wine Folly created the Noble Grape Challenge as a way to learn the spectrum of flavours and characteristics found in red and white wines. Taking nine reds and nine whites and going through them from lightest to darkest, we’ll learn about the key characteristics and flavours of each.
I love the big personality of a Malbec, and think South America does them really well. Since Malbecs tend to have strong flavours and a lot of body I will probably have this wine with something with a similarly strong flavour, like a steak or a hearty stew. Or maybe I’ll just savour it on its own.
Nicolas Laloux Les Chais 770
(I couldn’t actually find a link to this wine – curious!)
This one looks like a blend, but I am still interested to try it. To be honest, I am always interested in trying wine, since every bottle, every sip brings me closer to knowing what I like and being able to pinpoint more accurately what I’m tasting. The friend who gave me this wine gave me a 1 litre bottle, so I might need some help finishing this one!
‘Wait a minute,’ you might say, ‘this one doesn’t say which varietal it is!’
Well, you’d be right. Many French wines don’t state the grapes used to make their wines, and it’s not because they are trying to hide something from you – they actually expect you to know! This wine is from the Bordeaux region, which means it is most likely a blend of some combination of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Malbec, and, in rare cases, Carménère. I am particularly excited to taste this wine because I’ve been on a bit of a streak educating myself on French wines, and also because I’ve also heard that 2010 was a good year for Bordeaux wines. (A good year basically means that the powers that be in the wine world have deemed wines made from grapes picked in that year to be particularly well-made. Yum!)
I was also given some beer and cider. I know, they’re not wine, but beer can be just as complex and interesting – not to mention delicious!
I have to admit, I love beer, and have a particular weakness for quadrupels, so I’m excited to try this beer. I’ve seen it in the shop and always wondered what it tasted like, and am grateful to my friends for treating me to this delicious-looking Belgian quad!
One of my friends brought one bottle of this cider for me, and one for us to enjoy at the party. I was a little wary because I am not usually a fan of sweet things, but this cider was light and crisp in addition to its sweetness – I found it completely delicious!
I’m excited to try this beer too! Quads tend to be strong in flavour and usually have a higher alcohol content (about 9%, as opposed to about 6% of most other beers), which can turn some people off, but I find them complex and completely satisfying.
As you can see, my friends really spoiled this birthday girl. If you’re looking to try new wines asking for them as gifts for an occasion like a birthday is a great opportunity!