Get SF Weekly Newsletters

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Kaiken 2009 Malbec Mendoza

Posted By on Thu, Nov 11, 2010 at 4:47 PM

click to enlarge rsz_kaiken_malbec.jpg

Tuesday night we went to Boulevard and blew the rent. After two Woodford Reserve Manhattans, the sommelier John helped us pick out an astounding Barolo from Piedmont that set us back $165. Good thing the foie gras was amazing and the northern halibut was as close to the empyrean as one gets without angel wings.

Every cent we spent Tuesday was worth it. Except the next day, the cold reality of how we were going to survive the rest of the week set in. So on a chilly Wednesday evening we made radish salad and beef tacos, flipped through our Netflix, and opened a bottle of Kaiken 2009 Malbec from Mendoza that set us back a mere $10, one-sixteenth the cost of that Boulevard Barolo.

With the popularity of Malbec growing rapidly, there are numerous choices on the market, many of them downright vile. Technically a Bordeaux varietal, Malbec makes up less than 1 percent of Bordeaux plantings. And though still given lip service as one of the five components of the meritage blend, it rarely makes an appearance anymore, dwarfed in most California and French blendings by its more tannic sister-vine Petite Verdot.

As a result, South America has become the center of this burgeoning grape, with Argentina being its prominent producer and distributor. Since I work in the wine industry I taste between 50 and 100 wines a week, and can say that Malbec is a tricky grape. It often exposes unripe vegetal tones, unbalanced acids, and earthy funk, and for every good Malbec I buy, I take a pass on 30 others. But when done right it can be one of the most exquisite and consumer-friendly varietals on the market. Medium-bodied and unpretentious, Malbec is a versatile grape that can be paired with just about anything. It's fruity yet robust, and as in the case of the 2009 Kaiken, can cost less than two hours of parking in the Marina garage.

The 2009 Kaiken Malbec dances in the glass as it gracefully opens up. The bouquet is complex yet fruity, showing violets, plum licorice, boysenberry, bittersweet chocolate, and supple tannins that give nice weight to the jammy fruit. As it enters the palate, balanced spices help round out the rich, dark fruit and leathery floral aspects, all leading to a long, cedar-tinted finish that seems to endlessly linger in the back of the throat.

Your choice: Sell the kids' bikes and knock over a Chuck E. Cheese for a night out at Boulevard, or hawk your old Green Day CDs to Amoeba and get a bottle of the Kaiken Malbec. You never listen to Green Day anymore anyway.

Kaiken 2009 Malbec Mendoza: $9.99 at Faletti Foods, 308 Broderick (at Fell), 626-4400.

Follow us on Twitter: @sfoodie.

  • Pin It

Tags: , , , , ,

About The Author

Brant Foehl


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed

Like us on Facebook


  • Phish at the Bill Graham Auditorium
    Phish is in the midst of a block of sold out shows at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium (October 27-29). The Monday night concert featured a rare first set opener of “Walfredo” with the band members switching instruments for the song. The evening’s highlights included John Fishman and his iconic vacuum cleaner solo and favorites such as Chalk Dust Torture, Slave to the Traffic Light, Axilla, Rift, 2001 Space Odyssey, and Maze. The show also featured Phish’s debut of a, seemingly impromptu, version of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” to with roaring approval of the, singing along, crowd. With Game 6 being tonight, partying Phish fans will join Giants fans in Civic Center Plaza where there will be a World Series viewing party on a large screen set up by the City. Photography by Jamie Soja.
  • The 4th Annual Masquerotica 2014 - NSFW
    The theme this year was Carnaval Mystique for the 4th Annual Masquerotica at The Factory. Attendees were entertained by strip dance, trapeze, and live music. Photographs by Calibree Photography.