What : àMaurice Cellars Malbec Columbia Valley 2011 $35
Why: Malbec is a sleeper grape variety for Washington. The state produces a relatively miniscule amount of the grape—Malbec made up only 2,200 out of the 227,000 tons of wine grapes the state produced in 2014—yet it also produces a number of compelling wines.
Winemaker Anna Schafer at Walla Walla Valley’s àMaurice Cellars is a malbec savant. Schafer spent two harvests in Mendoza, Argentina working under famed winemaker Paul Hobbs at Viña Cobos. In a consistently high-quality lineup, Schafer’s malbec never fails to stand out.
“Malbec was one of my first wine crushes,” Schafer says. “It’s so friendly. For good malbec, you have to be very sensitive to the subtle flavors. It is those secondary notes that make malbec alluring - clove, cinnamon, and star anise.”
The àMaurice Cellars 2011 Columbia Valley Malbec ($35) once again finds the winery in top form. The wine hails from Gamache Vineyard, which produces several of the top malbecs in the state. It’s loaded with notes of black pepper and dried herbs with a mesmerizing texture and mouthwatering acids—an outrageously delicious wine that lingers and lingers.