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  • Writer's pictureClaire @ fromthegrapevine

World Malbec Day

Malbec vines

Happy World Malbec Day! Every April 17th, this marketing ploy by Wines of Argentina celebrates the beauty of the Malbec grape, which we associate with Argentina. You can watch my review of 3 Malbec wines below, or read on...

Malbec is a French grape in origin, native to the valley alongside the river Lot, south east of Bordeaux. It is still a permitted grape in the blended wines of Bordeaux, although there's not many Malbec vines left in the Bordeaux region following a devastating frost in 1956. However, there's an appellation called Cahors that does specialise in Malbec-dominant wines.

I've picked out 3 Malbecs that you should be able to source in lockdown; a French, an Argentinian and a Chilean.

Rigal Original Malbec

Wine One - Rigal Original Malbec, 2018, Asda £6

We are at the bottom end of the price scale for this 100% Malbec from the indication of Comté Tolosan, which is the wider area around Cahors. The producers, Rigal, have been making wine in this area since 1755, and so know a thing or two about the Malbec grape. The area is warm and sunny, bringing great concentration to the fruit berries, which are dark and robust. Unlike Argentinian Malbec, the French variety can be more rustic with peppered tannins and spice, and this example has been partially aged on oak staves, which gives the wine a touch of oak (vanilla notes) without a costly barrel maturation period.

Wine Two - The Society's Exhibition Malbec, 2018, Wine Society £10.95

The birth of Malbec in Argentina began when Domingo Faustino Sarmiento, governor of Mendoza,

Wine Society Exhibition Malbec

hired a French agronomist called Miguel Pouget to bring grapevine cuttings from France to Argentina in the late 1800’s. Of the vines that Pouget brought were the very first Malbec vines to be planted in the country, and it turns out that the soil, climate and altitude of Argentina's vineyard sites were a perfect match for the Malbec grape.

This wine comes from Mendoza, which is home to 75% of Argentine vineyards, and Malbec has become their signature grape. The Mendoza region is vast, offering high flat plains within the Andes. The Wine Society have sourced this wine from Bodega Catena Zapata who have used grapes from vineyards near San Carlos, laying at 3600 feet above sea level. This altitude gives cold nights to contrast with the sunny days; an important factor in halting ripening overnight to preserve the acidity in the grapes. It's a dry area as the peaks of the Andes create a rain shadow, but there's enough snow melting in irrigation channels to please the vines.

With 14 months in barrel, this wine is bold but smooth, and a great price for its complexity. Would pair perfectly with red meats, stews and strong cheese.

Wine Three - Organic Malbec, 2018, M&S, £9

Emiliana Organic Malbec

Malbec is known as the dominant grape of Argentina, but Chile also produces some fabulous wines from this grape. Chilean Malbec is a deep purple, full-bodied wine that is a classic crowd pleaser. It's known for its big fruit, earthy tones and silky mouthfeel.

This example from M&S is organic and comes from the Rapel Valley, which contributes around a quarter of Chilean wine. It is hot, sunny and pretty dry climate, giving the wine a concentration of flavour.

You'll get juicy blackberry, black cherry and blueberry from this wine. Try it with grilled meat or spicy curries.


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