The Dozen Vol. 27 No. 03

The Dozen – Fresh Malbecs

The bright berry tastes of the hallmark wine from Argentina.


Malbec is often a dark and brooding wine, especially in the traditional Cahors manner. However, the Argentines like to make it with a lot of fresh berry flavors though still with plenty of heft – in the same manner, that Napa Valley Zinfandels were once made, though not quite the same flavors. The Dozen has a couple of those today, both fresh from the 2020 vintage.

We also have another small tranche of Virginia wines and two wines grown and made in Los Angeles – Bel Air, no less.

Pull up a glass and enjoy.

2021 Château de Fontenille Entre-Deux-Mers Blanc ($15). Very crisp and fresh with lively green fruits – lime and kiwi – and quite enjoyable. The blend is not atypical but nevertheless interesting, with half Sauvignon Blanc and the rest Sauvignon Gris, Muscadelle, and a touch of Semillon.

2020 50 West Vineyards Petit Manseng ($30). Very fragrant and somewhat sweet, like apple juice with a little spritz and bitters added in.

2019 Moraga Bel Air California White Wine ($115). More politics – winery owned by Rupert Murdoch. Great texture, flavors of sugar cane, vanilla, apples, tangerine, and hints of whey. A big-volume wine, quite enjoyable and best served with richly-sauced white meat.

NV Sonoma-Cutrer Russian River Valley Rosé of Pinot Noir ($22). Crisp and lean like pink from Provence, though not as elegant, with orange citrus flavors and crisp minerality.

NV J Vineyards “Cuvée 20” Russian River Valley Brut ($34). Nice and crisp with a touch of vanilla to go along with the apples and a clean finish.

2016 Trump Winery Monticello Blanc de Noirs ($55). Politics aside, if reluctantly so,  this is an excellent sparkler, more in the Champagne style than are most California bubblies, with excellent structure, tart apple fruit, and a metallic minerality that keeps the taste long and lingering.

2020 Susana Balbo “Signature” Valle de Uco Malbec ($25). Similar to the “BenMarco” below, but perhaps a bit more mellow in the flavors.

2020 Susana Balbo “BenMarco” Valle de Uco Malbec ($35). Lots of fresh berry aromas and flavors – dark and dense rich – with nice wood flavors.

2020 Williamsburg Winery Virginia Petit Verdot ($49). Fruity yet mellow berries with good wood treatment and dusty tannins.

2019 Trump Winery “New World Reserve” Monticello Red Wine ($54). A lean red, a little light, a little like an old Medoc with its spare, less-lush structure, but nevertheless a well-made wine.

2019 Smith-Madrone Spring Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon ($61). Enjoyable with bright red berries, tart blackberries, and green herbal flavors – think green briers as in old-style Bordeaux – with good weight and structure.

2017 Moraga Bell Air California Red Wine ($154). Very nice with muddled red fruits, well-integrated barrel flavors, and slow-rising, dusty tannins.

Prices listed are generally SRP or from As more wineries are shipping directly to consumers, check the winery website if you can’t find a bottle in your retail store.

Roger Morris writes about wine, food and travel for The World of Fine Wine, Drinks Business, Meininger's Wine Business International, Wine Enthusiast and other publications in the U.S. and Europe.

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