This week we visit Argentina and look at the popular variety: Malbec
Today, Argentina produces over 75% of the worlds Malbec wines. Originating from the South West of France, it was never considered an important wine until Argentina revived the variety. It is also grown in France, with smaller volumes grown in Chile, USA, South Africa, Australia and Italy.
Much like Pinot Noir and Merlot, Malbec is susceptible to disease and rot, making it difficult to grow in it’s country of origin.
Nevertheless, in the mid-nineteenth century, a group of Argentine winemakers wanted to raise the profile of Argentinian wine and took advice that they should try growing Malbec. They took vine cuttings from France and brought them back to Argentina, mainly planting them in the wine region of Mendoza. In the hot high-altitude of the region, the vines thrived, showing none of the weaknesses they had in France. This caused many winemakers to believe Malbec was a grape that had truly belonged in Argentina all along.
The majority of Malbec in Argentina comes from the Mendoza area, with the best wines coming from the highly elevated sub-regions of Uco Valley and Lujan de Cuyo.
Altitude is a key quality indicator for Malbec, high altitudes will show higher acidity, more tannin and added flower and herb notes. Cooler climates will show flavours of red plum and cherry whilst warmer climates will produce sugar plum and blueberry flavours.
It’s profile tends to be very fruity with good body and alcohol. Common styles include basic Malbec which is a juicy style with dominant red fruit flavours, balanced tannin and made with little to no oak aging. The Reserva Malbec at the higher end, tend to age in oak longer and offer black fruit, chocolate, sweet tobacco and subtle notes of wild iris.
This wine is very popular because it is both delicious and affordable, and is able to be enjoyed either with or without food. A good choice if you are serving a diverse crowd!
Definitely a red-meat wine, Malbec is adaptable enough to stand up to spicy Mexican, Cajun, Indian, Thai, or Italian fare, with preference given to barbecue, spices and sometimes hard to pair meat-driven dishes, Malbec is extremely food-friendly and ultra accommodating. Consider giving Malbec a go with any of your favorite beef, game, lamb, chili, stews, mushrooms, sausage and barbecue sauces.