Christie Kiley on June 15, 2015 3 Comments There are certain wines everyone likes to gravitate towards during different times of the year. You can sip on chilled whites and roses all summer long, but sometimes you just miss the reds of the cooler months. In the warm months, you may crave a red on occasion like you might crave a piece of chocolate every now and then. The key for an enjoyable summer red is to pick one that is fruity and maybe not complicated, but of simple goodness. Some look towards the great Zinfandel of California or an inky Syrah and Viognier blend out of Australia. I invite you to try a Malbec from Argentina: the Kaiken Ultra Malbec 2011. Out of the Uco Valley in the heart of Mendoza comes this Kaiken wine. This winery is ranked among the top in high-quality and high-altitude wines of the Andes range. The Mendoza winery has been celebrated for almost two decades now for amazing wine, including the one they are most renowned for: Malbec. Kaiken Winery It all started in 2001 when Aurelio Montes of Vina Montes in Chile made a visit to the Mendoza region of Argentina. Impressed immediately by the local terroir and quality of viticulture, he decided he might set up shop himself. After a few more visits, Kaiken was officially founded in 2002. The winery he purchased was built in 1920 in Vistalba, Mendoza. Today they are known for crafting their quality wines in small batches to maintain the quality. The name “Kaiken” comes from the birds you can see in the dry plains of Tierra del Fuego in Patagonia. When the cold winters come around, they fly north you can see flocks of them flying over the Andes mountains in Mendoza and up the entire range. The facility today is state-of-the-art and designed to allow their wines to be processed by way of gravity. Their concrete tanks allow for an efficient and natural cooling element to keep fermentation temperatures at a steady range. Each of their vats can only hold up to and around 12,000 to 13,000 liters at one time, making it easier for each batch to be controlled and crafted with care. The Terroir The terroir of Mendoza may be new to the wine world, as it was really only recognized for quality wine in the early 90s. For the people who have worked the vine in this region, many generations have passed by. The main vineyard areas where you will find world class wines are in the valleys of Luja de Cuyo, Maipu and Uco Valley. The latter is where you will find some of the vineyards of Kaiken and where the vineyards of this wine are located. This valley is found between 3,000 and 3,900 feet. Because of this altitude, the vineyards are some of the healthiest in the world as they stay dry without any chance of mildew or rot. During the growing season, it is rare for it to rain, however, if it does, the winds which constantly blow through this valley will dry the vineyards within a couple hours. These winds also influence the structure of the grapes, making them more hearty which will later give the wine more character and structure as well. The Wine The Kaiken Ultra Malbec 2011 consists of 96% Malbec and a touch of Cabernet Sauvignon (4%). The fruit was all harvested by hand and placed in small 30-pound bins to prevent the weight of the grapes from pressing down on one another. Following vinification, 80% of the batch was aged in French oak barrels for a year. The result is a wine with full structure and perfect fruity summer wine. On the nose it is reminiscent of boysenberry and blackberry. The juicy taste is like a ripe early summer plum and blackberries with a hint of milk chocolate. Have this on hand this summer for your go-to summer red. I could not think of a more perfect wine to go with summer barbecue!