Each year, a day is designated for the celebration of a specific wine grape (as if we need another reason to open a bottle of wine…). Perhaps you can compare the day to an anniversary or birthday during which wine aficionados profess their love and appreciation for whatever variety is wearing Bacchus’ crown. On Monday, April 17, it’s time for Malbec to be the guest of honor, whether at wine shop tastings, restaurant food and wine pairing dinners, or in the comfort of your home as you watch a re-run of Evita.
But what do you really know about Malbec, an Old World grape that, for the last twenty years, has burst on the scene (and wine lists) thanks to a New World revival?
Malbec is a purple grape variety that originated around the Cahors region in southwest France. Still used as a grape in Bordeaux blends, Malbec from Cahors was important in Roman times and during the Medieval period; it became somewhat of an afterthought after the late 19th century phylloxera epidemic in Europe… until winemakers in Argentina made Malbec great again. It was introduced in that South American country in 1853 by a French agricultural engineer who wanted to improve the quality of wines. Now, Malbec is one of the predominant varietals in the country, one that produces over 75% of the world’s Malbec wines.
When you’re ready to open one of the mouthwatering examples of 100% Malbec reviewed below (all sent as samples), consider pairing each with a delicious lunch or dinner. You’ll enjoy each sip even more when complemented with lean flank steak, filet mignon, or a juicy sirloin still sizzling from the grill. Try your grandmother’s special recipe for pot roast or roast beef with one of the choices found below or serve your favorite Malbec with homemade lasagna, roast chicken, tender lamb, or thinly cut slices of a peppery pork tenderloin.
It’s time to celebrate Malbec World Day on Monday, April 17 (or any day, for that matter!). Invite your friends to drop by, have your favorite foods on hand, and open bottles of these exceptional finds at prices you’ll love. Cheers!
Achaval Ferrer 2015 Malbec ($25) – From Mendoza, Argentina, Malbec grapes were sourced from three appellations. Those cultivated in the clay soils of the Lujan de Cuyo offer elegance, those from Medrano with its warm climate and sandy soils contribute structure and complexity, and Malbec grown in the Uco Valley, with its cold nights, express high acidity. The winemaking team feels that the 2015 Malbec shows a “very particular elegance and finesse” and I couldn’t agree more. On the nose, I discovered intense aromas of black cherries, dark red fruit, and red flowers. Bright acidity and well defined tannins were the foundation to flavors of lavender, tobacco, plum, blackberry, anise, herbs, juicy red fruit, earth, and spice. Balanced and refreshing, the Achaval Ferrer 2015 Malbec exudes plenty of character you’re probably craving right now.
Exuding a broad, mesmerizing profile is the Gran Reserva Serie Riberas Malbec 2014 from D.O. Marchigue within the Colchagua Valley. Fresh aromas of spice, red fruit, and a zesty minerality led to notes of black plums, blueberries, chocolate, and hint of tobacco on the palate. With the right amount of acidity to balance the ever-so-smooth tannins and a long, satisfying finish that begs you to pour another glass, you’ll do just that.
Cheers to Malbec! ~ Cindy