Malbec: The variety that found a new home in Argentina
By Rebeca M. Pinhas @vinomomnola
Click aqui para español- >Malbec: La variedad que encontró un nuevo hogar en Argentina
When a solution against phylloxera - a parasitic insect with a taste for vine roots - was finally found, its passage had almost completely devastated the areas of most important and historical wine production in the world. Although the plantations eventually recovered after the arduous effort and the implementation of new agricultural techniques to prevent the spread of the destructive insect, many winegrowers lost the interest and ability to harvest again certain varieties of grapes that were once abundant in certain regions. The Malbec grape is one such example.
Malbec was one of the originally authorized varieties in the recognized blends of Bordeaux (France, where it is also known as Côt and Auxerrois) and the main ingredient of Cahors Black Wine in the Southwest of the same country. However, growing this grape was not an easy task in these regions, so the winemakers decided not to invest more time or money in replanting it after crises such as phylloxera, other pests, and adverse natural events such as frost.
The first Malbec vineyards arrived in Argentina around 1850, and their affinity for the terroir (a French term used to describe all the characteristics and physical circumstances of a wine region) was evident from the beginning. The conditions that this stock so longed for in France were provided through a dry climate, abundance of sunlight, and steep altitudes. Today, Malbec is the characteristic red variety of Argentina, where most of the production is concentrated in the province of Mendoza, with 85% of the current crops. The province of Salta, to the north, has one of the highest elevation vineyards in the world, Altura Máxima, which sits 2,300 meters above sea level.
Some of the main characteristics of Malbec are its purple color, the intensity in which it reaches almost a black tint, as well as a magenta variation that is evident towards the edges. It has aromas of red fruits such as raspberry and plum, and it has soft tannins and can be enjoyed young or after a few years in the cava. The customary pairing is the equally desired Argentine meats and roasts, as well as other typical dishes such as lamb ragout.
Although other varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are the most popular in the American market when the consumer is looking for a heavy red wine, the reputation of Argentine Malbec is establishing itself in the market, where it can be found in a wide range of prices. It is definitely a variety that should be considered as the barbecue season approaches.