Hi, wine lovers! How are you? Everything’s fantastic over here. Today, I won’t be regaling you with tales of more adventures on the Argentine wine routes, or even accounts of visits to wineries. Today, I’d like to tell you that April 17 is Malbec World Day and to celebrate it I’m going to share some of the reasons I love the variety so much.
First, and most importantly: Argentina is the place to be on Malbec World Day. Why? Because Malbec is the country’s star variety and its leading producer across the world, not just in terms of volume, but also for the range of styles produced here.
Much of what I’ve learned on this amazing trip is related to the grape. So now, I’m going to try to explain why I’m so enamored of it.
Malbec World Day. A Malbec for every taste
My long-term followers already know that Malbec was one of the reasons I got into the world of wine in the first place. However, the universe I discovered over the past few months is much more fascinating than I could ever have imagined.
When I got to Argentina, I had tried several different Malbecs from different regions, mostly reds but with one or two rosés, thanks to the wonderful advice of Alex, my guide at the wine store.
Today, I know that there’s a Malbec out there to suit every taste, almost like wine in general. This is thanks to its incredible malleability across the different terroirs of Argentina.
Because it’s grown in vineyards spanning more than 42,000 hectares, Malbec presents a huge range of very different profiles. Even within the same region, like the Uco Valley in Mendoza just to mention one, there’s a world of different approaches to discover.
And in addition to that, today you’ll find alongside the reds and rosés, White Malbecs, late harvest malbecs, sparkling Malbecs, and fortified Malbecs and their distillates such as grappas and even gins.
Which is to say that in Argentina Malbec is more of an ecosystem of different labels than a range, and you could go on tasting different kinds more or less forever.
Malbec’s new looks
As you get further and further into the world of wine, the hunt for new flavors becomes imperative. We love the classics but finding a great new producer is a wonderful feeling.
After touring hundreds of miles of Argentine vineyards, I was amazed at all the different small wineries there are to visit. Each produces wines that add to the diverse spectrum of styles and interpretations of Malbec, and it’s thrilling to see.
Argentina has hundreds of small producers that also continue to surprise many overseas. Some are part of a long tradition, but there are also many that only began recently.
Since I got to the country, I have discovered at least a hundred Malbec labels I’d never heard of before. Behind each is a story that, when told by the right sommelier, you don’t want to miss out on.
Malbec enhanced by the mists of time
One thing that turns a good wine into a fine one it its ability to develop over time. Uncorking an old bottle is like opening a treasure chest and I was lucky enough to be there for a few openings at the wineries I visited.
At home, the Malbec bottles you see on the shelves tend to be quite young. My first experience with a Malbec older than ten years was unforgettable: I loved how the character develops from fruity to a complex blend of spice and aromatic herbs, as well as earthy, smoky notes.
The Malbecs I’ve tasted from the 70s and 80s were genuinely moving. That’s why I’ve set some aside. I hope to have enough self-control to let them age nicely in the cellar.
Versatility and pairings
Another characteristic I love about Malbec is its versatility when it comes to thinking what to pair it with, in addition to asado barbecues.
Barbecued meat, hard cheeses and pasta with tomato sauce are some of the things that go best with it. In fact, I suggest you try it with pizza to see how well they complement one another.
But that’s not all. If, like me, you’re a veggie, there are plenty of options for you. Roasted vegetables are a perfect accompaniment for a light, young Malbec. Zucchini, squash, carrot and grilled bell pepper work perfectly.
On cooler days, risotto is a great option. The texture of the rice, in company with the stock and vegetables, makes for a perfect accompaniment to the wine. Mushroom based dishes are also excellent choices.
And when you remember that Malbec isn’t just all about the reds, the playing field opens up even more. For example, a fortified version with bitter chocolate is a revelation.
I hope you’ve enjoyed these thoughts about the pearl of Argentina, and that you too have a great Malbec World Day.
See you at the next adventure!