Twelve numbers that tell the phenomenon of Malbec

Malbec / News / Outstanding / 17 April, 2019

By: Joaquín Hidalgo

There are many ways to recount a success: with a story, a tale or with numbers that describe trends. In terms of Malbec, we chose numbers, which say more than words. These are the digits that define Argentine Malbec.

1316. Pope John XXII founds the University of Cahors, in south-western France, where clerical elites will take a liking to a black and corpulent wine that will become legendary: “the black wine of Cahors”, made with the vineyards that will be known as Cot and Auxerrois, and later Malbec. It is, by the way, the first exaltation of wine for its colour.

1853. The first stakes of Malbec enter Argentina crossing the Andes on the back of mules. They arrive in the saddlebags of Miguel Amado Pouget, who is hired to head the Quinta Agronómica founded in Mendoza. The vineyards and the agronomic school occupied the property where the Government House now stands.

1974. The first Malbec varietal for export is registered. It is a Norton wine destined for the United States. The company was then run by the legendary Ricardo Santos. There are still bottles a few bottles kicking around in the winery, but they’re not for sale.

1977. A legendary Malbec harvest. That year, winemaker Raúl de la Mota produced the first Weinert Malbec, Estrella, of which there are still bottles for sale – about two hundred bottles remain – as witnesses of an oenology from another time from a variety with absolute validity.

1991. The Luján de Cuyo D.O.C, the first of its kind in Argentina is established to promote and protect the development of Malbec. Founded by a handful of wineries, it laid out a criterion of origin and style to enhance the taste of the variety. Those pioneering wineries marked a course of what is now the development of terroirs.

2011. There are many great ideas in the world, and only some are acted upon. Malbec World Day belongs to this select group. Launched on April 17th 2011, it includes all the celebrations worldwide in the framework of Malbec. You can follow the activities on the Malbec World Day site, or with #MalbecArgentino #MalbecWorldDay.

43,000 hectares of Malbec had been cultivated in Argentina up to 2018. The data comes from the Wine Observatory and describes a curve in full rise over the last twenty years, doubling its surface area. The trend continues. In the 1970s, there were 100,000 hectares of Malbec in our country. We’re not quite back there yet but it’s growing at a good pace.

103.1 million litres of Malbec were exported in 2018. The trend is growing, with a jump of 1,600% from 2002. It is by far the most exported varietal. The average F.O.B price ( “free on board”) per bottle is $4.63. Measured in foreign currencies, Malbec exports reached 481 million dollars the same year, half of the country’s sales, between 2002 and 2018 the increase in foreign currency was 3,400%.

123 countries have received at least one shipment of Malbec in the last year. The one that received the most was the United States, with 4.1 million boxes; the least, Angola, with about eleven units. Among the highlighted destinations, we must mention the United Kingdom, with 2 million boxes, Canada, with 873,000 units, and Brazil, which reached 796,000. The highest average price per box was achieved by Angola, with 1,031 US dollars.

73.9 million litres of Malbec were despatched to the domestic market in 2018, with the average Argentinian drinking 1.7 liters of Malbec last year, one-tenth of the annual per capita consumption.

3.111 m.a.s.l, the highest Malbec vineyard. Planted in Salta, in the northwest of Argentina, and while we’re on records, between the vineyards of the northernmost Malbec (Jujuy) and the southernmost (Chubut), there are 2,300 linear kilometres, the equivalent of going from Edinburgh to Marrakesh or Toronto to Havana. Malbec’s epicentre is concentrated in an area around latitude 33º South.

85% of Malbec in Mendoza. By far the most important province in terms of varietal. Luján de Cuyo is the area with the most Malbec and accounts for 24% of the total, while the entire Uco Valley covers 40%, including San Carlos, Tunuyán and Tupungato. The rest is divided between the eastern and southern oases. In this way, when expressing flavours, regions are important.

With these figures, numbers and dates, only one thing remains: on April 17, raise your glasses and make a toast. Of course, with Malbec.

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Joaquín Hidalgo
Joaquín Hidalgo
Mendocino de nacimiento (1978), se recibió en el Liceo Agrícola como enólogo en la promoción 1996. Al año siguiente, se inscribió en periodismo en la Universidad Nacional de La Plata, de donde egresó en 2002. Desde entonces vive en Buenos Aires donde construyó una lar- ga carrera combinando sus dos pasiones: la escritura y los vinos. Ha trabajado en casi todos los medios que le dieron co- bertura al tema. Desde el Country Herald a la Revista del Club del Vino, en los que escribió sus primeras notas firmadas, a Playboy, Revista JOY y La Mañana de Neu- quén, diario del que sigue siendo columnista dominical desde 2007. Colaboró como catador y cronista para Aus- tral Spectator relevando Chile y Perú en la edición 2005 y luego coeditando la guía entre 2011 y 2012. A contar de 2014 escribe semanalmente para el diario La Nación, donde actualmente tiene una columna llamada Sin Filtrar los días viernes en el puntocom. A principios de septiembre de 2019 fue contratado por la plataforma Vinous para reportar Argentina y Chile. Joaquín Hidalgo Born in Mendoza in 1978, Joaquin received his Certificate in Winemaking from the Liceo Agrícola in 1996. The following year, he took Journalism at the Universidad Nacional de la Plata, graduating in 2002. Since then he has lived in Buenos Aires, where he has built up an extensive career combining his two passions: writing and wine. He has worked for almost every media outlet that covers the area from the Country Herald to the Revista del Club de Vino, where he published his first signed articles, Playboy, Revista JOY, and La Mañana de Neuquen, for whom he has been a columnist since 2007. He has been a taster and correspondent for the Austral Spectator, covering Chile and Peru in 2005 and then co-editing the guide in 2011 and 2012. Since 2014, he has written a weekly column for the La Nación newspaper for whom he also writes a weekly blog called Sin Filtrar on their website. In September 2019, he was hired by the Vinous platform to cover Argentina and Chile.

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