Every once in a while a wine crosses our path that we get really excited about. We didn’t know much about winemaker Pablo Cuneo or Bodega Ruca Malen wine before we visited Malbec Wine Bar in Manhattan’s Lower East Side for a tasting, but what we found was spectacular. Argentina is known for its malbec — it’s the flagship grape of the country. However, when we sat down with Cuneo he told us, "I love the cabernet sauvignon." After he declared that was his favorite of the wines he makes, we were too were converted. Argentina makes a fantastic malbec, but Cuneo and his team at Bodega Ruca Malen make an even better cabernet.
"Cuneo is extremely passionate about the wine that he produces, explaining each varietal in depth and with unique care" Cuneo is a soft-spoken man with enough wine knowledge to school any American sommelier. When we had lunch with him at Ai Fiori at the Langham in Manhattan, we were more than impressed by this humble nature, seeing as he produces such grandiose and delicious wines.
Beyond the fantastic wine that Bodega Ruca Malen produces, there’s also the history behind Argentinean wine to discuss. Over lunch, Cuneo divulged some of the secrets of Bodega Ruca Malen, including the legend of the upward-facing girl on their label. It’s been said that Mapuche women would walk with their eyes fixed to the ground for fear of confronting an incredibly attractive god, until one woman was defiant enough to look at this god and fell in love. When we tasted the wine, we could certainly see that it was crafted with love.
Cuneo is extremely passionate about the wine that he produces, explaining each varietal in depth and with unique care. When he admitted that the cabernet was his favorite, he told us that he believes the French influence of the wines makes them extremely "elegant." Ruca Malen winery embodies the rich history of Mendoza winemaking and their wines are created by combining French winemaking concepts with deep knowledge of the different micro terroirs along the Andes Mountains. Cuneo points out that you can certainly see the French influence in their wines, stating, "We are trying to keep the elegance, and the freshness and taking care to keep the acidity."
There’s no doubt that the wines were elegant, and the freshness was duly noted as we paired many of the wines with fresh pasta, lamb, and sirloin steak. The malbec was full-bodied and had a beautiful nose. The blend, however, was the favorite of the meal. The petit verdot, malbec, and cabernet are blended perfectly together to create a wine that will go well with any meal — or be fantastic if it’s served on its alone.
Bodega Ruca Malen's wines are becoming more widely available in the United States, and Cuneo notes that the winery is taking care to keep a balance between having the wine sold solely in retail outlets or in restaurants. However, their success up until now has primarily been in restaurants, where the wine is truthfully one of the best pairing wines we’ve tasted as of late. We can’t wait to see what else Ruca Malen and Pablo Cuneo have up their sleeves