South, South, South of the Border-Lapostolle’s Cuveé Alexandre & Piattelli’s Malbec Premium Reserve

Thou art not conquer’d; beauty’s ensign yet/Is crimson in thy lips and in thy cheeks.“-Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet.

When I think of capturing the significance of life in color, I think of Shakespeare and the color red. Here, Romeo sees Juliet and is captivated that in her death, life is still ever present through the notes of crimson accentuating her face and her beauty (note: she is not really dead here, but very much alive. It’s call irony, but I digress).

A great South American red wine (can) also exhibit the beauty of the deepness of life and the terroir from which its been born. I’ve heard that I would love all South American wines, but think the value of the wine has often overshadowed the quality.  Until I tried these two.

The Wines: Cuveé Alexandre’s 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon (Chile) and Piattelli’s Malbec Reserve 2011 (Argentina).

Cuveé Alexandre’s 2011 Cabernet SauvDSC_0024ignon is a deep red wine with legs that could be a Rockette.  This Cab Sauv is a blend dominated by Cab Sauv (88%)  but includes Cabernet Franc (7%) and Syrah (5%), giving it a more body, rich structure and potential to age for quite a few years.

Showing up on a Friday night at my parents means one thing: steak.  This wine marries with grilled meats beautifully.  On the nose and the palatte, it is red fruit (cherries, baked plum) forward, and is supported by coffee, tobacco, and oak notes that make for wine heaven. Even my mother, who sips conservatively and politely to support my wine “experiments” asked for another glass.  If I didn’t love my parents, I would have finished the bottle myself.

I found this wine at Haskell’s Maple Grove location, and retails for around $25.00.  Buy any you find on sale!

Piattelli’s –highly scored by Robert Parker–Malbec Premium Reserve was the underdog of my purchases, and I thought simply, “There’s no way I get 2-for-2 South American wines right.” I was wrong.


This wine was exquisite.  Bold and bursting at first sip with refined violet flavors, there was a shocking silky finishing, lingering in the mouth as if I passed crushed velvet over my tongue. Hints of chocolate, oak and tones of leather, the fruit of blackberries combined for an experience I want to experience again and again. The finish was long and elegant, and the tannins far more refined than I expected (Again, my mother went for glass #2!)

According to their website, the grapes for this wine were “handpicked and manually sorted” and aged in second-use French and American oak barrels.  This wine is the embodiment of love in the hands of the winemaker, and drank to me like a wine of $50.00–not the $15.99 I purchased this for at Surdyk’s in Minneapolis.

Quality definitely conquered the affordable price tag for me in these wines, and felt like I had found the real deal, not the windmills of South American wine I previously chased. These wines are alive with fruit, love and elegance–if you get the chance, buy a bottle for those you love (and an extra one for you to hoard away for yourself!)



Oveja Negra: A wine wanting to be a little more bad-assed than it is.

After a hefty day of lawn care in the SoMo (South Minneapolis) and a cold afternoon at that, I was as tired as if I were training for an Ironman. Lawn bags were filled and carried; dead patches were raked and seeded, and just a general, “get it done” mandate was given by current roommate.

Steak and cabernet sauvignon, like a heavy training day, seemed to be called for.  I was like the wet wash cloth by the side of the tub that was cold, tired, and rung out.

Said roommate, however, being the master cook she is, decided to whip up pizza, and I wanted to try the wine I purchased from “Elevated.”–The wine: Oveja Negra, 2011 blend of Cabernet Franc and Carmenere.

It was a wine from Maule Valley, Chile, and while a narrow country, it has a lot of diversity–depending on which side of the Aphoto-91ndes one is on.

“Meh” not “Ahhh” greeted by upon opening.  It was earthy, but not fruity on the nose, with slightly green hints of capsicum.  On the palette it was light fruit in taste, black current, capsicum, smokey wood-chip oaked (just a guess since the taste seemed to linger on the surface rather than rooted in the wine), and was a young, spicy, peppery wine. 13.5% in booze, medium-high tannin and some balance, but I’ve seen pictures of goats (I know, not a sheep) and this wine was not going to balance on any steep mountain tops.

I forgot how much I paid for it, but I like to think a little Black Sheep is good to change up the dynamics of staid and boring.  This wine would never be confused with Yahtzee on the scale of shaking things up.  Will finish the bottle, but put it down after a glass and a half to make the run this morning.  It was a little less blah with some pizza, but attribute that more to the talents of my roommate than the wine.  Make a sweater and move on.


slightly green, earthy hints, fruit is lost on the nose, earthy,

light, black current, capsicum, smoky–wood chips, young, spicy as in pepper, cedar, light on the fruti

13.5%; med high tannin, some balance

maule valley, coastal and mediterranean temps,