Yesterday when I was surfing the net, I came across a post which stated that April 17, is world Malbec day, I got surprised to know the journey and history of Malbec.
Malbec was brought to Argentina from France on April 17th, 1853. Every year world Malbec day is celebrated on that day to mark its arrival.
What is Malbec wine?
Malbec wine is made from the dark purple Malbec grapes, which are also known by the names Pressac in the right bank of the Gironde and Auxerrois in Cahors, southwest of France. The color of the Malbec wine is very dark in inky red or violet color and because of this intense color, this wine is also referred to as black wine by most people.
The minerals in the soil also lead to different wine styles. The soil in which Malbec is grown also plays an important role, in Cahors the soil has limestone and clay deposits and it is considered as the reason for the deep color and pigmentation of the wine.
Malbec grape’s parents are Madeleine Noir des Charente and Prunelard. Merlot is the sibling of Malbec.
Madeline noir des Charente is also the mother of Merlot and the father of Merlot is Cabernet Franc. Both of the grape varieties have similarities and are perfect to blend.
Malbec wine taste is full of rich fresh fruity flavors and is also recommended as the best wine for beginners.
The plum is the signature descriptor of the Malbec wines.
In French Malbec wines we find similar fruit compliments from dark cherry and in Argentina and other new world wine regions the signature fruit is the ripe blackberry with its rich fruity aroma.
When we talk about the simple Malbec wines, we come across the fruity juicy aromas, like black cherry, blueberry, and plum aromas. Complex Malbec wines with oak aging have imparted additional aromas of tobacco, cedar, and leather aromas.
Why has Malbec migrated to a new world?
When we look at the history of this grape variety, many believe that the grape is from Argentina but Its origin is from France. Malbec is originally from the Cahors region which is 250 km from Bordeaux in southwest France.
Malbec is highly susceptible to frost and other grape diseases. It failed to survive the frost like other grape varieties in Bordeaux in 1956 and hence become less popular.
It is permitted to be used in the Bordeaux blend red wine and is used along with other grape varieties like Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Malbec is mainly used for imparting the tannins and rich color to the blends.
But now it is seen in many new world wine growing regions like South Africa, the United States, Australia, and Chile.
Malbecs were brought to Argentina from France during the 1800s. Argentina is known to be the producer of 75 percent of Malbec in regions like Mendoza. It is the most popular grape variety grown in Argentina. Malbec has become their national variety also.
The reason for the high success of Malbecs in Argentina is due to the high altitude of Argentina.
Mendoza in Argentina has high altitude regions ranging from 800 to 1500 m in the districts of Lujan de Cuyo and the Uco Valley.
What is the effect of altitude on Malbec?
Malbec is a thick-skinned red grape variety and it needs high sunlight for its ripeness. Malbec grapes grown in these altitudes receive a high intensity of sunlight The grapes to protect themselves from the UV radiation produce pigmentation in their skin. The dark intense color of these grapes has a higher concentration of polyphenols, the resveratrol in particular.
Resveratrol has many benefits, they make you feel and look younger and the Malbec wine from Argentina has the highest amount of these antioxidants than other wines in this world.
High Altitudes have daytime high temperatures followed by nighttime low temperatures. The uniformity of sunlight during the daytime causes them to ripen fast and hence they have high sugars and are less acidic.
The nighttime low temperatures help in maintaining the fruity aromas and flavor intensity slowing the respiration process.
Hence, they have a plusher structure and violet aromas.
Argentina Malbec wines vs French Malbec wines
Malbec grapes of Argentina differ from that of France. 1.Size:
The clusters of Argentina Malbec grapes appear tiny and are closed in forming tight clusters. The berries are juicy and the color is intense and flavorful.
Tannins are less in the Malbec grapes in Argentina and because of this, they have less aging potential compared to that of France Malbec varieties.
There is a difference in taste in french Malbec wines and Mendoza Malbec wines. French Malbec wines are highly tannic and highly acidic with medium sweetness.
Argentina Malbec wines are slightly less acidic and less tannin in style and their sweetness is slightly higher. They are smooth compared to French Malbec wines.
Malbec wines food pairings
Malbec wines are highly intense and hence you need to pair them with dishes that balance them.
French Malbec wines are high tannin in nature.
Tannins react with saliva and they absorb the proteins in the saliva, hence high tannin wines are always paired with high protein food and here the pairing is the poultry and meat, Red meat goes well with the high tannin French Malbec wines.
Argentina Malbec wines go with roasted meat dishes or beefsteak and vegetable dishes with herbs.
Malbec wines to try
1.Nicasia vineyard catena zapata from Mendoza Argentina. 2.Finca altamira also from Mendoza Argentina
Malbecs from Salta vineyards and San Juan are also the best to try, as they have the highest elevation.
Malbec from France can be found in blends.
Malbec is found as minor blends in Bordeaux and Loire of France.
Malbec in Bordeaux is less tannin and less acidic compared to the Malbec in Cahors which is more tannic because of the phenolic compounds.
Cahors in the southwest of France has Malbec as the varietal profile and the Malbec wine of Cahors has 70 percent of Malbec and is often blended with 30 percent of Merlot and Tannat to make full-bodied wines.
Try Clos Troteligotte M albec K2 from Cahors.
If you want to try Malbec from other than Argentina and France, try Malbec wines from Chile. They are very very delicious.