The Wine Lab – North Andover, MA

Scrolling through Facebook one day, I saw that a new wine bar had opened up in North Andover, which is about an hour north of me and a town I drive through all the time when I commute to work at the Traveling Vineyard corporate office. It looked like a pretty cool concept… an urban style winery that sources grapes from various places, then vinifies and bottles under their own name, The Wine Lab. I was really excited to check it out, so one beautiful fall afternoon this past weekend I took a ride up to North Andover, met up with a great friend, and got to see what The Wine Lab is all about.

The Wine Lab is located in a beautiful historic mill building that appears to be a thriving spot for local businesses. It’s a gorgeous rustic-meets-modern space with high ceilings and a large bar in the center, surrounded by many high top tables, and a cozy living room-like space with leather chairs and coffee tables. Immediately upon entering, I knew this was a place I could see myself spending many an evening with great friends.

But What About The Wine?


I decided to order one of the wine flights on the menu called the Devil Flight. This flight consisted of three reds, then your choice of whichever wine you wanted for the fourth. I chose the Chardonnay as my fourth wine, and the three reds that came in the flight were a Pinot Noir, a Cabernet Sauvignon, and a Malbec. They arrived in little test tubes, a quirky and fun way to present a flight in a place that calls itself a lab, accompanied by a large empty glass for tasting. Love the creative presentation!


They served them in what I thought was a strange order to serve wine in: Cab Sauv, Pinot Noir, Malbec, then Chardonnay. Naturally, I tasted them in what I believe to be a more proper order and began with the Chardonnay.

Summer Day Chardonnay was a nice basic Chardonnay. No signs of significant oak, a medium weight with good acidity. The grapes are sourced from California, and the winemaking didn’t seem to be anything special. A decent, crisp white wine that would pair lovely with a variety of foods and satisfy most white wine drinkers.

I then poured the Red Dragon Pinot Noir into my glass. These grapes are sourced from Lodi, CA and displayed a bright ruby red in the glass. The texture was super smooth with very light tannins, and this wine showed a bit of tart fruit, including cranberry, pomegranate, dried strawberry, and red raspberry. It was a bit more floral than I would expect from a Pinot Noir, and more fruity than earthy or rustic. It was a nice easy drinker that would pair with a variety of lighter foods.

Next, I tried the She Drank It All Cabernet Sauvignon, also sourced from Lodi, CA. The color was almost identical to the Pinot Noir, which I found peculiar, but the flavor and texture was even more odd. Dare I say, this Cab was even lighter in flavor and body than the Pinot Noir. I’m not sure how that can even happen, especially grown in an AVA such as Lodi where you would expect much more deep fruit and heavier tannins. This wine was incredibly floral, something else I wouldn’t expect from a Cab. This showed extremely light fruit, very light tannin, little to no oak, and notes of red plum. Missing was any herbal or eucalyptus notes I’d expect from a Cab, and certainly no deep, dark fruits. It was interesting, to say the least.

Finally, I tried the Smooth Criminal Malbec, also sourced from Lodi, CA. This was my favorite of the flight. The most tannic and structured of the reds, it was still quite smooth and soft. This had deeper fruit, although still more red fruit notes than black fruit, and almost had a bubble gum character to it you’d find in a wine that has undergone carbonic or semi-carbonic maceration.

Light Bites

We decided to split a couple of light bites, so we ordered the Antipasto Skewers and the Deconstructed Beets and Buratta. These plates were fantastic! I ordered a glass of Smooth Criminal Malbec to sip on while we snacked, and it was a perfect compliment to both appetizers.

The Wine Lab is a fabulous place to visit, and I hope it thrives for years to come. The atmosphere is welcoming and spacious, the service is top notch, and the food is incredible. I personally found the wine to be average, but certainly enjoyable. I will most definitely return in the future to enjoy more Malbec and experience more options on their menu.

Oh Malbec, How I Love Thee

My love Dennis and I absolutely LOVE a great Argentinian Malbec. In fact, when we go out for a nice steak, one of us will order a Malbec and the other will order a Cabernet Sauvignon so we can see which we like better and go back and forth. Yes, we’re wine geeks like that. This year as part of his Valentine’s gift, I wanted to get him a couple of really nice bottles of wine, so I went to a local wine shop a couple of miles down the road from me called the Wine Vine on Highland Street in Worcester, MA. Dennis and I just love this shop. The owners Sang and Camille are wonderful… knowledgeable, friendly, just a really nice couple. So I went in asking for a nice Argentinian Malbec, and Sang suggested the Marta’s Vineyard 2008 Reserve Malbec. He explained that this particular wine only comes out with a vintage every 10 years, so of course this 2008 was the latest vintage. Marta’s Vineyard is a family business. They grow the vines, handpick the grapes, and select the very best to go into their wines. Their winemaker then makes the wine under the watch of Marta Lunardi, which is who the business is named after and led by, and then they cellar and bottle it. I was absolutely sold, so I bought a bottle for $32 and went on my way.

We finally opened this bottle the other night, and oh my what a treat! We aerated it through an instant aerator/decanter, and then took a few sips before pairing it with a deep chocolate cake. The first thing I noticed was how smooth it was as far as tannins go, but still had decent acidity to it. The fruit, oh the fruit! Blackberries, plum, even chocolate, you name it! It was heaven. Little did I know, that was just the beginning. Then this came…

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No words! NONE! It was heavenly! The cake brought out all of the chocolate undertones of the wine and completely smoothed out the acidity of the wine. It was like a chocolate/fruit party on the palate! As incredible as this wine was alone, I didn’t want to keep sipping without pairing a little bit of the cake with each sip, that’s how delicious the combination was.

We also paired it with pot roast later on (yes, dessert before dinner… we just couldn’t wait for the chocolate and Malbec pairing!), and although it was also delicious with the pot roast, it was far better with the chocolate cake as a pairing. I imagine it would have been incredible with a nice medium/medium-rare steak. Guess there’s only one way to find out!

I went to the Marta’s Vineyard website in hopes of finding some more detailed information about this particular wine, but I couldn’t find anything at all, so I emailed them in hopes of some more info. Bottom line? It’s amazing, and at $32 a bottle we will certainly be returning to the Wine Vine to purchase another bottle!