What was once a minor blending grape in Bordeaux France has emerged as the national grape of Argentina. What maybe this grape you ask? Why, it’s Malbec. To celebrate this magnificent grape, April 17th has been designated Malbec Day!
You may ask yourself, how did such a minor grape emerge as the national grape of Argentina and a current darling on the international wine scene? Well, the answer is that the Malbec that emerges from Argentina is very different from the Malbec from Bordeaux. In the cool growing region of Bordeaux, Malbec struggles to ripen and never develops those jammy notes of blackberry, blueberry, black plum and currants that Argentinian Malbecs are famous for. It is used for its color in Bordeaux blends. Further south, in Cahors, France, wines are produced with 100% Malbec that are deep and powerful but with restrained notes of black fruit. But, In the warm growing climate of Argentina, the Malbec grape is able to fully ripen and expresses beautiful, ripe fruit.
Like most wine growing regions, not all Malbecs from Argentina are the same. The grapes are grown in different soil, allowed to ripen to different levels and made by different vitners in different styles. Despite these differences, the wines are similar in that they have fruit forward black fruit. The other winning characteristic of Argentinian Malbecs are their value pricing. While some Malbec fall under the $10 mark and others close in on $100, this pricing offers value across the board. To purchase other wines with dark fruit from other regions with similar quality would cost at least twice as much and in many cases, much more. Given the ever escalating price of wine, the value pricing model of Argentinian Malbec has helped propel them to the top of many oneophiles’ list, especially those short on cash.
Malbec wines have been popular on DOTW. We find that they offer great value and a number of them have been featured in our Wine Wednesday columns. Here are some Malbecs that we would recommend you give a try. In fact, for Malbec Day, buy a few and do your own taste test. Here are a few of our faves:
Crios – a woman is at the helm at this winery, which is named for her two children. Vibrant, juicy wines.
Pascal Toso – this winery makes premium Malbec ($30-50 range) that has lovely chocolate notes. If you are escalating up the price chain, this is a good stop in the premium range.
Bodega Catena Zapata – if you must splurge or you only have $100+ wines in your cellar, than this is the winery for you. This winery has intense wines that showcase the care that is used to make them. You will have your pick of upper premium priced wine ($50+) and $100+ wines.
Photo courtesy of thedrinksbusiness.com