Friday, March 18, 2011

Malbec Release: Bodega Del Sur does it Right

There is a lot of buzz about Malbec, and that's all good. It gets even better when a progessive small winery like Bodega Del Sur, Murphys, CA (Calaveras AVA), produces a nicely balanced wine and a lot of hoopla to introduce it.

The '08 Malbec created by winemaker Chuck Hovey uses grapes sourced from the new Alta Mesa appellation in the Silvaspoon Vineyards. It's fruity, smooth, and pairs wonderfully with traditional Argentine BBQ.

Bodega Del Sur owners Victor and Evelyn Reyes-Umana chose to debut their Malbec at Villa del Sol restaurant in South San Francisco. A great idea, since the restaurant brought out platters of BBQ beef, pork and poultry done in the authentic style... accompanied by live music, a Bondolon musician and Victor himself crooning a few Latin American ballads.

At the event, Evelyn presented the new 2008 vintage of Carmesi , a red blend with a purpose. Portions of the sale of each bottle of Carmesi are donated to charitable organizations that assist needy women and their children. This year, The Resource Connection of San Andreas has been chosen to receive the donations from the sale of the 2008 vintage of the Carmesi.

About the winery (a nice backstory in their own words): Bodega del Sur is the culmination of a dream of Evelyn and Victor Reyes-Umana. Victor began his love affair with wine in his native El Salvador. Moving to California and later in life, traveling around the world, solidified his appreciation for wines and increased his curiosity for the various wine styles of the different regions of the world.

While visiting some friends in Chile in 1993, Victor and Evelyn had the great opportunity to visit many of the small, family owned wineries, and it was then that Victor uttered the fateful words, "This is what I would like to do when I retire". His remark took Evelyn completely by surprise. She thought it was a pipe dream, and mentioned something about him being out of his mind. After all, Victor was already a successful electrical engineer in California's Silicon Valley, and Evelyn was busy raising their sons, Victor Manuel and Luis Edgardo, with a full-time job teaching Spanish at Saint Matthew's Catholic School in San Mateo, CA. What did they know about making wine? But this "nutty" idea started to flourish.

During their visits to Spain and France in 2004 and 2005, they visited various wine regions, spending some significant time in La Mancha, where wines and dreams come together. They spent time talking to the winemakers and gathering information on the production of fine, elite wines. Then, in the spring of 2007, the opportunity arose to purchase a winery in Calaveras County, and they decided to take the plunge. This was the perfect location. Not only was it near their summer home in Arnold, but also, Victor realized the grape growing region of the Sierra foothills mimicked those of Chile, Argentina and Spain, among others. Through the years, Victor had learned to appreciate and admire the wines the region produced, and particularly liked the consistent quality and style of the wine produced by Chuck Hovey for another local winery. It was through Chuck's wines that Victor learned that great wines could be made from Spanish varietals grown locally. It was an incredible thrill for Victor and Evelyn to be able to team up with Chuck, to produce the Bodega del Sur wines. Truly a dream coming true.

On a personal note, I was delighted to help Evelyn and Victor celebrate their new vintages. They are among some of the most interesting winery people I've met while doing research for my forthcoming book, Mountain High Wines: The Sierra and Its Foothills. Drop me a note if you'd like to be on the book party release list! (barbara at winebizpr dot com)

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