Malbec is a wine which over the past ten years has quickly become one of the most popular red wines in several international wine markets. As a red wine, it is such an approachable and versatile crowd pleaser, with it’s fruit forward flavours so easy to pair and enjoy, with such a varied range of occasions and cuisine.
The wine has become so popular - for wine enthusiasts under the age of 30, it is hard to think of a time when the wine wasn’t everywhere, but its growth in popularity is quite recent.
World Malbec Day 2017 will again be celebrated on the 17th April. Its origins are connected with the day of commemoration when president ‘Domingo Faustino Sarmiento’ of Argentina officially made it his mission to transform the wine industry in Argentina.
With this year being the 7th celebration of Malbec Day. Though it started and for many it is centred in Argentina, with Malbec wines from recognised local wine regions in the country. Quality Malbec wines from all over the world celebrate and are involved with wine tastings and food pairing events around the globe.
Malbec has its origins in France where it was primarily used as a blending varietal in the renowned Bordeaux red blends. While the grape had excellent potential to be made into a 100% Malbec wine we know today. It was only the French region of Cahors which did so and still, but it is a wine which rarely makes its way outside the country. But it must be noted their wines are unique, with a much most intense expression to the more approachable, early drinking styles we know from Argentina and other wine regions around the world.
Also for almost 100 years after being planted, Malbec remained a wine consumed within Argentina, with very little being exported. With most of the vines primarily planted in the wine region of Mendoza. In the hot high-altitude of the region, the Malbec vines thrived, exhibiting none of the weaknesses the grape was known for in France. This caused many winemakers to believe Malbec was a grape that had truly belonged in Argentina all along.
Then, in the early 2000’s, economies around the world began to see trouble, which caused prices to rise, including the price of wine made in Europe and America. Several wine markets including the UK and the US started seeking an affordable delicious alternative and thus Malbec’s time had arrived.
Another reason for its quick rise in adoption - the wine was not promoted by wine experts. But found by young and new wine enthusiasts, wine drinkers seeking a wine that was both delicious, early drinking and affordable. The wine’s popularity spread via word of mouth, not wine reviews or wine lists, and to this day is it still found more in people’s homes than in restaurants, which for those in the know is now changing.
With the explosion and success of Malbec from Argentina - has come other wine regions now producing exciting Malbec wines, including; Chile, NZ (Hawke’s Bay, Gisborne & Waiheke...), the west coast of the United States, the Languedoc region in southern France and even Cahors has started to produce an earlier drinking style of Malbec, and some exciting wines are also coming out of the 'Clare Valley' in Australia.
What makes Malbec so popular is how easy it is to drink and how well it pairs with varied cuisine. Some ask what is the main difference with Malbec and Merlot. As Malbec wines can have similar characteristics which make Merlot easy to drink, but most have an added generosity in fruit flavours, and spice which seems to linger slightly longer on the palate and with smooth, approachable tannins. Some regions and winemakers can produce lusciously ripe, dark and characterful wines with coffee, vanilla and chocolate aromas and flavours. Malbec generally is a little more expressive, with confident fruit, but as with all grapes, location, culture and cuisine - there are also plenty of choice.
If you are going to a bbq or dinner party - or you are cooking and looking to serve a red wine to a diverse group of friends, Malbec is typically a good option, which both new wine enthusiasts along with confident wine drinkers will find pleasing. It is a versatile wine with food and friends. Enjoy World Malbec Day - 17th April 2017.