Malbec World Day will be celebrating its third anniversary this year and there are more events than ever planned for across the globe. The celebration is no bigger than in Argentina, the adopted homeland of Malbec, however in truth the grape originates from France and it is said that this is where the name came from as the French (more fool them…) disliked the taste of the grape hence the name Malbec, or bad mouth. The South Americans on the other hand took the grape in as one of their own and have seen it flourish ever since.
Argentina is known as the land of the Malbec and for years now they have been at the forefront of production of this intensely complex wine. Much of this is down to the vast area that of land on offer that provides perfect grape growing conditions. The wine map stretches from 22 to 42 degrees latitude south and covers a cultivated surface of more than 538,000 acres, this is split up into the following regions, starting in the North, Salta, Catamarca, La Rioja, San Juan, Mendoza, Neuquen and Rio Negro. Mendoza is of course the most well-known but do not be put off by some of the lesser-known wine regions such as San Juan and La Rioja, as they also have a lot to offer when it comes to good wine. Mendoza itself is split into five smaller areas the most famous and celebrated of which is Lujan de Cuyo.
The Malbec grape is typically characterised by its deep colour and intense fruity flavours. In comparison to other red wines it is softer than a Cabernet Sauvignon but more powerful than Merlot. Argentina is unique in the fact that the wine growing region is inland compared to coastal as in most other wine regions, the temperature is also quite unique as in summertime it reaches very high temperatures but then drops back down at night time providing perfect conditions. In case you were wondering why we celebrate Malbec World Day on the 17th April, it is because on this day in 1853 Argentine President, Domingo Faustino Sarmiento, first commissioned the import of Malbec cuttings from France to Argentina and the grapes have been flourishing ever since!
So in honour of the fact that today is Malbec World Day, we asked three of our favourite sommeliers in Buenos Aires to recommend their personal favourites, the perfect place to start if you were wondering which bottle to crack open to celebrate yourself.
Yacochuya Malbec 2008 – Ignacio Goldin from Algodon Mansion recommends this ruby-red wine that has undertones of plum, coffee and chocolate. It is a lush, romantic wine that fills your mouth with fruit and fine tannins. This wine is destined for a table with big steaks, venison, and rich sauces.
Catena Zapata Malbec Argentino 2005 – The Palacio Duhau Park Hyatt, one of Buenos Aires finest hotels, provides this recommendation with aromas of cassis, espresso, stone and butter chocolate. This wine is wonderfully sweet but at the same time quite penetrating. A scent of fresh herbs help contribute to this wine’s bracing character. A perfect wine for your traditional Argentine Parrilla.
Alta Vista 2006 Single Vineyard Tamis – This wine from the Uco Valley was the Four Season’s bottle of choice. It’s a mighty Malbec that has opening notes of toasted oak, a pinch of sawdust and perfumed black fruit, vanilla and spice flavours. The palate is lofty and rich, with beautiful berry and plum flavours. This wine is a great match with grilled beef steak, slow-roasted lamb or veal.