Malbec is a French variety, but Malbecs made in the southwest of France tend to be hard and tannic. Argentine Malbec is softer, and rounder. But the greatest Malbec, wines that rival top Bordeaux for its combination of lushness, complexity and structure, come from a few Argentine producers who draw their fruit form ancient head-trained vines, some of which were planted over 100 years ago. These aren't just soft and round, but fabulously concentrated with layers and layers of ripe, concentrated flavors.
We still remember meeting one of those producers, Patrick Campbell, in a beat up pool hall on the beach in Sausalito in 2000. The beer was bad, but Pat's story about his trip to the Andes and his discovery of a spectacular Malbec vineyard was riveting. The indefatigable Campbell was clad in a wet suit, and had just pulled himself out of a kayak where he'd spent two exhilarating hours paddling around San Francisco Bay. But, Campbell had already forgotten the turbulence. He was locked in on recounting the trip that took him to the foothills of the Andes in search of a vineyard where he could create world class red wine like the Cabernet he makes on Sonoma Mountain.
As you travel south from the city of Mendoza, the elevation rises as the landscape becomes more and more desolate. South of La Consulta, at the southernmost reaches of the valley, lays Patrick's amazing discovery: A pristine 60-year-old Malbec vineyard. At over 1000 meters above sea-level, the rocky, sparse terrain is cooled by the Patagonian breezes. Patrick's mission was simple: he just needed to craft a pure expression of this unique terrain.
This terrain has propelled Campbell to produce a wine that we believe to be a benchmark for Argentine Malbec. It's called Vale La Pena or "It's Worth The Effort," and indeed it was. Vale La Pena is a reflection of its origin; intense, dramatic, and complete. Deep purple in color, with highly refined flavors of black fruits, the wine is touched with new oak aromas that will dissipate over time.
The 2005 Vale La Pena is Campbell's finest release to date; and the second consecutive release that can be counted among the New World's most exciting reds. Drink now for its youthful exuberance or cellar for up to 10 years.
Deep, dark, and intense serve this Malbec with equally powerful, grilled read meat, or as Patrick suggests: "This is a wine that will age for years, but a wine that is irresistible when confronted with a simply grilled Argentina steak! Buen provecho!"