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Valcan Cellars malbecs use Rogue Valley grapes

Although the roots of malbec began in France, its luster began in Argentina and is now being further polished with grapes from the vineyards of Southern Oregon.

Malbec, a 2,000-year-old varietal, is generally known as a bold, red wine with dark fruit flavors and a smoky finish. But here in the Rogue Valley, with hot days and cooler nights, the wine is still full-bodied with dark red fruits, but takes on slightly softer, gentler floral notes of violet (a cooler climate trait), plum and raspberry with smooth tannins.

“To me, malbec should be the king,” said JP Valot, owner/winemaker of Corvallis-based Valcan Cellars. “It has everything you’re looking for in a wine. Malbec sits right in the middle. If you don’t know what everyone likes, choose the malbec.”

Argentine born and bred, Valot’s roots are Italian and French. Valot has been making wine in Oregon for almost 20 years. The name Valcan Cellars comes from blending his last name with his wife, Doris Cancel’s, last name. The business was created as a legacy for their children, he said.

From the labels with an ancient kissing birds petroglyph, to his reinterpretation of malbec, Valot is bringing tradition forward in innovative ways.

Valot sources all his grapes from the Rogue Valley. “I’m so in love with the Rogue Valley,” he says. “Here, because of the climate, I can go more minimalist on the winemaking. I don’t like to change things. ... That’s the key, where you get the grapes ... (you) need to start with outstanding grapes in order to make outstanding wines.”

Valcan Cellars will release three wines, which Valot refers to as his winery’s malbec trifecta, on World Malbec Day, Saturday, April 17:

2020 White Malbec “Bare” - Rose petals and peaches with a hint of green on the nose. Soft lemongrass. Almost austere like, with watermelon, white peach and nectarine.

2020 Rosé of Malbec - You’ll want this on your summer picnic in a wildflower meadow. Bring melon, berries and lavender goat cheese. It’s blue sky, fluffy clouds and sunshine in a bottle. Aromatic nose with orange peel, SweetTart, raspberry. Watermelon Jolly Rancher and tart rhubarb on the palate. Fruit forward — witty and dry. Enlivening. Drink lightly chilled.

2020 Sparkling Malbec “Carmín” - Wherever there’s fireworks this should be there. Equally good on Turkey Day. Or under a full eclipse of the moon. Magenta on the eyes, strawberry taffy on the nose. Surprising effervescence. Very fun and sparkly. Cranberry tartness with a dry finish. Raspberry and wildflower floral. Drink slowly, lightly chilled.

Valcan Cellars is also planning to release a phone app, Valot says. “New things bring new people. Innovation has been great for me,” he adds.

Reach Paula Bandy at pbthegrapevine@gmail.com and connect with her on Instagram at @pbthroughthegrapevine.