In March, raise a glass of wine made by women – Crios Rose of Malbec

Although men still dominate the winemaking field, many remarkable women also are creating the magic that fills our glasses. In fact, 9.8 percent of California’s wineries have women as the main or lead winemakers, according to In Sonoma and Napa, the percentage rises to more than 12 percent.

March is Women’s History Month, a perfect time to celebrate women winemakers and to patronize women-owned businesses. One easy way to do both is to visit Jennifer Williams’ St. Louis Cellars, 2640 South Big Bend Boulevard in Maplewood.

When I visited the store recently, I selected two wines made by women: the 2011 Crios Rosé of Malbec from Mendoza, Argentina, ($13.99) and the 2010 Little Black Dress Pinot Grigio from California’s Mendocino County ($12.99).

The Malbec was made by Susana Balbo, the first female Argentinean enologist and the best-known woman winemaker in Argentina. She started to gain fame when Nicolás Catena hired her in the late 1980s to design and direct the construction of Bodega Catena Zapata, one of the most important winemaking facilities in Argentina. She now has her own winery, Domino Del Plata. The Crios label is her value-driven line, and the wines are meant to be consumed young. Crios means offspring, and the label has a drawing of three hands representing Balbo and her two children.

The wine is a deliciously rich, flavorful rosé with an alcohol level of 14 percent and a surprising amount of depth and body. It’s made by bleeding lightly colored juice from the skins of fermenting old-vine malbec grapes. This is a rosé for red wine drinkers, rather than a lightweight, strawberry-flavored aperitif. Although it’s dry, it isn’t bone dry, and it has flavors of zesty cranberries laced with spice. Best served with food, the Crios Rosé of Malbec is a versatile wine that would be great with turkey and cranberry sauce, grilled chicken or even spicy Asian dishes.

Like Balbo, Little Black Dress maker Zidanelia “Z” Arcidiacono, 28, studied oenology in Argentina. Her résumé includes working as a harvest enologist for Sonoma-Cutrer in California. She makes eight varietals for “Little Black Dress” — a label that obviously targets female consumers.

The Pinot Grigio is a well-made basic white wine that’s not overly complex. It’s medium-bodied, dry but not bone dry, and has an alcohol level of 12.5 percent. The surprise is that it tastes more like a slightly tart Italian pinot grigio than the typical fruity California style.

The Little Black Dress is a citrusy wine with hints of lime and spice; because it’s acidic, it would go well with acidic foods such as fish with freshly squeezed lemon juice or salad dressed with a vinaigrette.

Thanks Saint Louis Today