The Stark Raving Malbec is a non-vintage wine imported from Argentina by Rosenblum Cellars. Rosenblum Cellars has been around since 1978 and they are one of the first wineries to bring Zinfandel wines to the forefront. The Stark Raving line of wines is their entry level “brand” wine and unlike many “brand” wines, these wines have something unexpected about them. In the Stark Raving Red blend the lead grape is Tannat, not your usual California $10 Red blend. With the Malbec, even though it is a non vintage wine, it has been aged in new French oak barrels for 15 months, again something you don’t usually see in $10 wine. The alcohol content is 13.5%.
The color is a see thru, clear, cherry red, with purple highlights. The nose smells expensive, must be all the oak, extracted blackberry, fudge brownie, smoke from the outdoor grill and a soft hit of vanilla spice. The flavors are rounded and full bodied. It tastes of blueberry, chocolate powder, ripe plums and a little creamy vanilla. The transition to the mid palate adds curry spice, orange zest and a final dash of black cherry. The tannins are soft, they don’t intrude, the oak is well balanced for wine that has been sitting in barrels for 15 months and the acidity is under control. The finish is surprisingly subdued considering the robust nature of the main body of the wine, but it does linger for a fair amount of time.
The Stark Raving Malbec is a very solid ten buck bottle of wine, to me, it tastes more like a Central Coast Malbec than an Argentinean Malbec (there is a ton of ripe, juicy fruit flavors), but that is hardly a complaint. If the Stark Raving Malbec does not have gobs of complexity and nuance, it does have oodles of flavor. And a $10 wine with flavor to spare is always worth a try.