Much has been written here and elsewhere about the Crane Lake wines: those bargain basement bottles that go for as low as $4 but are surprisingly drinkable. Not complex, not fancy, not meant for aging or impressing company, but definitely acceptable for a casual lunch or when serving a large group of non-wine drinkers. They keep adding different grapes, and I suppose the growing Malbec planting in California (spurred no doubt by the success of Argentina) meant that sooner or later this had to hit the shelves: the 2005 Crane Lake Malbec.
It's got a plum jam aroma, very tart with mild tannins and some sour cherry flavors. Nothing to write home to mama about, but a good pizza and burger wine. The Girlfriend requested trout as a spur-of-the-moment dinner, but as it was Sunday I didn't have access to a white wine. The Malbec worked well as a pleasant if somewhat odd choice for the meal: grilled trout fillets with brown butter and a topping of broccoli sprouts, accompanied by a roast acorn squash with brown sugar that we split. The broccoli sprouts, sort of the veal of the broccoli world, were a bit of a disappointment. Raw they tasted like a handful of grass clippings; steamed with a bit of lemon they were only slightly more palatable, and atop the fish with a bit of brown butter they were quickly pushed aside. Perhaps there are better uses for these, but as a lover of alfalfa and bean sprouts, I was sorely disappointed. I will admit they're pretty in a microgreen way. The fish was incredible, though, and I'm convinced that brown butter is a gift from God.