Wine Wednesday: Lionel Messi’s Malbec

Leo Malbec

John Garland / Growler Magazine

So Leo Messi might be the best soccer player in the world. So he made $65 Million last year. So he’s lead Argentina with four goals in this World Cup, plus a game-winning assist in the 118th minute against Switzerland, and now they’ll play the Netherlands for a spot in the finals this afternoon. But, the real question, is his wine any good?

Leo’s wine brand is helmed by Casa Bianchi, the Mendoza, Argentina makers of multiple labels, including the sweet and bubbly torrontes-sauvignon blend called New Age that you’ve probably seen in a few coolers around town. The Leo line also includes a torrontes and a premium malbec, and proceeds benefit the Leo Messi Foundation. So, it’s not as if Messi himself is down in Mendoza, using those twinkle toes to mash up malbec grapes in a big vat. But it’s for a good cause, so let’s give it a swig.

The 2012 Leo Malbec (~$14, list of locations) tastes a fair amount like every other $14 malbec on the market, but it’s not so unabashedly jammy and alcoholic like some. There’s a little more nuance at play. It throws a deep purple hue without much fruit on the nose. It smells more like leaves and flowers at the base of a cedar tree. The sip has lots woody fruit flavors in play – loads of juniper and cassis. Heck, I could pour in some cassis liqueur and not be able to tell the difference. (Wait, just tried it. You can tell. Don’t try it.)

So more than just ripe fruit, the Leo Malbec has some restraint, some intrigue. If you’re not partial to any other malbec, and have bought malbecs like Trivento, Tilia and Decero in the past, put Leo in the rotation and see if you can tell a difference. Make sure to open it and let it breathe for a stretch. With a little air time, it loses some funkiness and brings in softer fruit notes – dried blueberry and figs. Pair it with flank steak or a plate of hard sausages and aged white cheeses.

About John Garland

John Garland is the Deputy Editor at the Growler Magazine. Find him on twitter (@johnpgarland) or in every coffee shop on West 7th Street.

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