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WineSpeed | Catena

Weekly insights from veteran wine writer Karen MacNeil.

CATENA | “La Consulta” Malbec 2015

(Mendoza, Argentina) $19

You smell the crusty char of the steak as it crackles on the grill. A few minutes later, you smell the warm juices as the meat rests. It’s an agony of temptation, cooking a steak. And so you sip wine while you wait. And pretty soon, the wine itself begins to taste curiously like a steak—richly meaty, savory, salty. Firm in texture but with a soft, succulent core. Some people believe that the wines of a place evolve in concert with the foods of that place. And the two are therefore destined to be a perfect match. Catena’s stellar malbec from the ultra-high-altitude vineyard “La Consulta” is waiting to make your next steak the steak of a lifetime. (13% abv)

94 points KM

Available at K&L Wine Merchants

More Wines to Know…

In winemaking, concrete eggs are:

A.  Used to minimize harsh tannin as in young red wines since concrete tends to absorb tannin molecules
Used as fermentation vessels and well-liked in certain circumstances since concrete does not contribute an oaky flavor and holds temperatures well
Used to contribute a wet rock flavor to wine which adds to the wine’s complexity
Used in the making of sweet wines because the thick concrete walls guard against oxidation during long fermentations

Here’s the answer…

The croissant is a French pastry that was baked into its crescent moon shape in order to look more appealing than traditional round or oblong loaves.

Answer: False. In fact, the croissant isn’t even really French but Austrian.  For centuries, imperialistic Turkish tribes hoping to invade western Europe considered Austria a militarily strategic foothold. Austria usually managed to defend itself against these periodic sieges, but occasionally the Turks prevailed. A brief occupation in the late 1600s had two redeeming results—both culinary. Coffee beans were brought to Vienna, instigating a revolutionary change in Austrian drinking habits, and Viennese bakers created the croissant to commemorate the end of the Turkish siege. The rich dough’s shape was not, alas, a marketing strategy: it was modeled after the crescent moon emblem on the Turkish banners.

Apparently, the subject of sheep holds some fascination for WineSpeed readers. Commenting on one of the items in our July 13, 2018 edition, Bob E. from Napa, CA, wrote in to say, “Another delightful WineSpeed today. By the way, New Zealand is home to 3 million people and 60 million sheep.”Meanwhile, Dudley P. from Anchorage, AK, wrote in with a slightly different statistic: “New Zealand has 48.1 million sheep—that’s 14 sheep for every human resident of the country.” (So, that’s why NZ is busy making more and more pinot noir … it’s to have something perfect to drink with all that lamb).


Yeah, pretty clever to have figured out that cola spelled differently starts the word alcohol. And not a moment too soon, since Coca Cola has just released an alcopop—the company’s first alcoholic drink in 125 years, according to The Drinks Business. It’s lemon-flavored, lowish in alcohol, and sold only in Japan. Aimed at female drinkers (wow, now that’s a surprise), the alcopop is modelled on Japan’s “Chu-Hi” drinks which contain shōchū (a spirit usually distilled from sweet potatoes, barley, or rice), sparkling water, and fruit flavors. Coke says it’s not coming to the States. (But remember New Coke wasn’t supposed to happen either).

Steals under $20

Italian white wine in summer? A must. Check out these steals

VILLA RUSSIZ “Les Enfants” 2016 (Venezia-Giulia, Italy) $15

A delicious blend of pinot grigio, pinot blanc, ribolla gialla, and sauvignon blanc. Creamy with exuberant fresh lime flavors. Relaxing on the deck just got a whole lot better.

VILLA RUSSIZ  Pinot Bianco 2016 (Collio, Venezia-Giulia, Italy) $14
Deserves to be your summer house wine. Lively, fresh, and pure tasting. Just waiting for a summer salad or seafood on the grill.

PRELIUS Vermentino 2016 (Maremma, Tuscany, Italy) $14
Wow. Lots of personality here for $14! Earthy, minerally, and citrus flavors. Insider tip: Vermentino is killer with garlicky seafood pastas and risottos.

“Karen, why among all fruits do only grapes make great wine?” – Will F., Mendocino, California

Will, you’ve just put your finger on one of wine’s great mysteries. No one knows why. And there’s a corollary idea that’s equally perplexing: If you ferment apricots or cherries, the resulting “wine” still tastes like those fruits. But wine made from grapes doesn’t taste like grapes. It can taste like a hundred other things from lemons to cowboy boots, but it almost never tastes like grapes themselves.

Send your questions/comments to AskKaren@winespeed.com.


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