Make Time For Malbec – April 17th Is Malbec World Day!

 

MONDAY 15TH APRIL 2024

 

In recent years, Malbec and Argentina have become intertwined in the hearts and minds of wine drinkers, and for good reason. After journeying across the world from its original home in France, Malbec found its spiritual home in the foothills of the Andes, coming to embody the best of Argentinian wine and wine culture. 

First held on 17th April 2011, Malbec World Day was instigated by Wines of Argentina to highlight the success of the grape variety in the South American country’s stunning terroir. Known for delivering excellent value and outstanding quality, the wines reflect both the diverse terroir and the grape variety’s unique characteristics. 

With April 17th just around the corner, now’s a great time to make sure you’re stocked up with some of the finest Malbecs we have to offer. From everyday options to premium cuvées, let us help you find a Malbec to suit your taste, and to celebrate the occasion. Why not choose a traditional French Malbec and a high-altitude Argentinian bottle and compare and contrast over dinner?

 

MORE ABOUT MALBEC

A distinguished grape variety with a long and varied, history, Malbec has been grown for centuries in southwest France, both in the Cahors region and in Bordeaux, where it’s one of the varieties permitted in red Bordeaux blends. 

In 1853, Domingo Faustino Sarmiento, President of Argentina, began a project that would change the course of Argentine winemaking forever. Bringing in Michel Aime Pouget, a French soil specialist, Sarmiento founded the country’s first agronomy school on April 17th 1853, with Pouget importing a range of French grapevine cuttings to revitalise the country’s wine production. The rest, as they say, is history, with Malbec putting down roots in the foothills of the Andes, and taking its place as an integral part of Argentine wine growing.

Today, over 75% of all Malbec grapes are grown in Argentina, forming the backbone of the country’s extensive wine landscape, across a diverse range of terroir. 

And in France, Malbec continues its journey as a long-established grape variety that’s invaluable for blending yet produces distinctive wines in its own right. 

STYLES OF MALBEC WINES

From the soft, herbaceous and leather notes that come from Malbec grown on French soil, to the deep, brooding, tannic reds of Mendoza’s famed terroir, Malbec comes in a variety of styles that reflect its origins and terroir. 

 

Wines made from this thick-skinned grape variety deliver a range of dark fruit aromas and flavours, from prune, blackberry and plum to cherry and vanilla with notes of violets, soft herbs, cacao, mulberry, liquorice, leather and tobacco.

TERROIR AND CLIMATE

Malbec has been grown in France for centuries – in Cahors it’s also known as ‘Cot’ – producing deep inky wines with a savoury character and robust tannins. Used both as a blending grape and for single-varietal wines, the warm temperatures and Mediterranean influence of southwest France allow the grapes to ripen.

 

In Argentina, vines have been cultivated since the middle of the 16th century, when Spanish missionaries founded vineyards in the La Rioja area north of San Juan. Malbec was introduced in 1835 as part of President Domingo Faustino Sarmiento project to revitalise the country’s winemaking. Argentina’s rugged and varied landscapes, high-altitude vineyards, fertile soils and favourable climate for Malbec led to a success story that defines Argentinian wine to this day.

 

Malbec isn’t the easiest of grape varieties to grow successfully, being prone to mildew and easily affected by poor weather and frost. Consistent sunlight and heat are needed for the berries to fully mature, and Argentina’s warm climate and dry air and altitude combine to allow the development of acidity and full ripening of the fruit – a perfect pairing of grape variety and terroir. 

WHICH MALBECS SHOULD I TRY?

We’ve selected nine Malbec wines to get you started. If you’re already familiar with wines from Argentina, the Kontiras Mikron Malbec is made in a light, unoaked style you might not have tried before. 

 

If Bordeaux blends or French Malbecs have been on your radar, why not sample a red from Cuvelier Los Andes – their winemaking pedigree is straight from the heart of Bordeaux. 

 

And if you’re looking for something a little different on the French front, give the Levalet Reserve from the Languedoc a go. Made with grapes sourced from dedicated vignerons in the small town of Limoux, at the foothills of the Pyrenees, it’s a fruit-forward modern-style Malbec that’s partially aged in oak. 

 

Argentinian Malbec’s for everyday drinking:

From the stable of the renowned Cuvelier family (of Château Leoville Poyferré fame), this biodynamically grown Malbec from the Uco Valley delivers espresso, dark cherry and raspberry in a wine with exceptional structure and complexity.

Made by a third-generation family-run winery in Mendoza, the flagship Latitud 34 is crafted from hand-harvested grapes. Plum, cranberry and spice notes combine with soft and generous tannins in this very drinkable red. 

This refreshing, high-altitude medium-bodied red from Bodegas Krontiras is designed to be drunk lightly chilled. Unoaked, it bursts with pure, lively notes of mulberry, fresh flowers and dark cherry. It is certified as both biodynamic and vegan.

Malbec’s from France - the grape variety’s traditional home:

The warm, dry vineyards of the Languedoc are perfect for producing Malbec. Rich and ripe, this delicious reserve is fruit-forward and smooth, with notes of blueberry, cocoa and spice. 

Aged in oak, this robust spicy red delivers notes of rich, dark fruits, chocolate, tobacco and vanilla. Decant an hour before drinking and pair with a traditional Sunday lunch or Friday night steak.

This Malbec-Merlot blend hails from the grape’s traditional home of Cahors in France. Delicious and approachable, it’s made by Gilles and Dominique Filhol. 

Explore luxury cuvèes:

Bodegas Krontiras’ flagship red wine is crafted with fruit from 120 year old Malbec vines. Barrel aged, it’s rich, smooth and complex, with layers of ripe, dark fruit underpinned by notes of cocoa and liquorice. 

This magnificent Gran Reserva is Bodegas Carelli’s top cuvée. Made with fruit from premium parcels in the Uco Valley, it’s aged in barrel and bottle, resulting in a deep, rich and powerful red. 

A world-class Malbec crafted from biodynamically grown fruit high in the Uco Valley, notes of ripe black cherry, cassis, blackberry and plum, mingle with cacao, vanilla and cinnamon in this lush, glossy wine.

 

Matching Malbec with food

Strong, rich and ripe, Malbec is ideal for pairing with food, and Argentina also has a reputation for producing some of the finest steak in the world. So it’s no surprise that Malbec and steak is a match made in heaven, especially when the steak is cooked over fire in the traditional Argentine fashion. 

Argentina Malbec will bring out the best in any roasted or barbecued red meat, especially when marinated with herbs and spices, and suits strong, mature salty cheeses. Slow-cooked ribs, empanadas and chimichurri sauces will also provide a perfect foil for these full-bodied reds. 

If you’re drinking Malbec from France, try it with slow-roasted leg of lamb with garlic and rosemary, venison or steak with salsa verde.

 

Time to taste

Now’s the ideal time to try a Malbec or two and explore the many expressions of this grape variety that Argentina and France have to offer. Explore our excellent range online, or visit one of our stores, where you can chat through your choices with our knowledgeable staff. Either way, you’re sure to find the perfect bottle!

 

Did you know:

 

·         The UK is the second largest importer of Argentinian Malbec after the USA.

·         Malbec is superbly well suited to rosé wines, with its aromatics producing bright, floral expressions. 

·         White Malbec is growing in popularity, delivering refreshing wines with notes of white peach, grapefruit and strawberry.