Malbec is a varietal of wine grape originating in France, which is currently all the rage in the U.S. and even across the globe. It’s been compared to Merlot, but with a spicy bit of character that makes it unique. It’s full-bodied and rich while maintaining high drinkability; it pleases a variety of palates (making it a wine of choice when serving red wine to a large crowd) and goes well with an enormous variety of foods, and is also great and easy to drink on its own. It had been made in the Cahors region of France for some time before becoming well-known to the rest of the world. Eventually, Argentine winemakers brought cuttings back to their homeland, where the vine thrived and took off. Today, Malbec is quite possibly the most popular wine varietal in the U.S., and it enjoys large consumption around the world as well, despite being unheard of ten years ago.
It’s no secret that Vine Vera loves red wine, and we love talking about and recommending it. Today, we’re going to focus on Malbec wines from Mendoza, Argentina: the area that first popularized the varietal. We’ll talk about taste, uniqueness, and other facts about Argentine Malbecs that will make you not only want to give them a try, but to have a lot more of them in your life.
Why Argentine Malbec?
There are two major areas in the world where the Malbec grape is grown and made into wine: Cahors, France and Mendoza, Argentina. Since Malbec’s explosion in popularity, vineyards outside of these regions that make the stuff have been popping up here and there, but Cahors and Mendoza are the most significant producers of the wine.
Cahors may have been the genesis of Malbec wine, but today we’re looking at Argentine Malbecs because it was Argentine soil that really let these grapes shine. To be fair, both French and Argentine Malbecs are delicious in different ways, but today we’re looking at Argentina.
Malbec is a tasty red wine that comfortably sits in the envied position of being both rich and full-bodied while also being surprisingly smooth and easy to drink—with or without food. Full of dark red fruit flavors and a pleasant bite of spice with a smooth, silky finish, it’s no wonder this wine enjoys such great popularity.
What’s Unique to Argentine Malbecs
As with many wine varietals, Malbec can have a fair deal of variation from one climate to another. Malbecs from Argentina tend to have an interesting and complex palate with strong blackberry and plum flavors, as well as notes of black cherry, cocoa powder, milk chocolate,leather, violet flowers, and sometimes a sweet tobacco taste on the finish, though this depends on the amount of oak aging.
Malbec wines also vary a bit within Argentina depending on the region. The general profile remains the same, but the level of intensity of certain flavors can vary slightly. For instance, warm-climate Mendozan Malbec has the strong blackberry and plum tastes with a hint of black cherry as described above, but cooler regions like Patagonia, Argentina, tend to produce wines with a heavier emphasis on the black cherry taste, with the blackberry and plum coming second. Essentially, Argentine Malbecs will be delicious, complex, fruity and spicy, but different Argentine areas produce slightly different balances of the core flavors of blackberry, plum, cherry, chocolate, violet, and leather.