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Malbec, its clone and its family

Malbec / Notícias / Em destaque / 2 September, 2016

De: Laura Ortiz

Very little was known about the exact origin of the malbec, but in 1992 it was discovered to be a sibling of the Merlot , having a common mother: Madeleine Noir des Charente, while its father is the Prunelard. The grape is native of the southwest of France, from the region of Cahors where it is known as Côt.

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Malbec owes its name to the person responsible for introducing it on the region of Bordeaux.

Since the 19th century, it is part of the blends of Bordeaux, being one of the six grapes allowed. Because of its rusticity, it is used on a small percentage and only used as a varietal on its origin zone, on Cahors where it is only required a 70% or more of the mentioned varietal.

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Mapa de WineFolly

Once upon a time, a french guide told me that the name Malbec was attributed to Mal Bouche, bad taste, since it was a grape that didn’t showed the great attributes of where it is native. Obviously, if that was its meaning on France here we should call it ‘tasty’.

This grape arrived to Argentina on the year 1852 thanks to Michel A. Pouget, a french agronomist engineer, founder of the Quinta Agronómica de Mendoza (The first agronomic school of the province), the place from which the first agronomists and vine growers with specific formation graduated.

In spite of the french origin of this grape, actually the oldest plants and most of the cultivated surface are in Argentina.
Little over a decade after arriving to our country, a plague called ”phylloxera” destroyed most of the harvest on France leaving our vineyards as the only “pre_phylloxera” malbecs.

While they did recover on their native city, Argentine has seven times more of cultivated surface than France, According to GuildSomm, these are the surfaces of each country

Argentina: 39,304 hectare (Argentina Harvest Report 2015)
France: 6,093 hectare (2011, France Agrimer)

Clone vs Mass selection

In simple words, when we talk about clones, we actually are talking about the direct descendants of a same plant. As such the progenitor (or mother) plant and its clone are genetically identical. There are different clones that are numbered as #1, #2 and #27 for example, each one displaying different characteristics like performances, aromatic profile and the berry’s size.

Now, when we talk about mass selection, we are making reference to the children of different plants of a same sector or sub-region, plants with similar, but not identical, characteristics, for example, Agrelo selection. This type of reproduction is sometimes seeked since at the moment of making a high quality wine it brings great complexity.

The INTA (National Institut of Agriculture and Livestock Technology) has explained in a simple way both systems.

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What makes malbec so special?
It is a variety that loves the sun and as such it adapted very well to Argentina. It’s possible to develop it from the parallel 22° to 39° (about 1600 km or 1000 miles long), since 200 masl (125 miles) in Patagonia until more than 3000 metres high (1875 miles) on the Calchaquies valleys on the north.

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It is a grape that produces a simple and complex wine at the same time, with a great variability of aromas depending on the type of soil, altitude, latitude and number of hours of sunlight (You can find from Winkler I up to IV along the west of Argentina). The most important thing is that it is drinkable thanks to its silkiness and great balance.
I invite you to learn more about this wonderful french variety that expresses itself much better as argentinian with a glass of your favourite malbec[:]
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Laura Ortiz
Es consultora retail, sommelier, cocinera y bartender, además es actual Vicepresidente de la Asociación Argentina de Sommeliers, previamente ejerció como coordinadora de la AAS en Mendoza. Se desempeña desde hace años como jurado en concursos de vinos, espirituosas y aceites de oliva. Ha aprobado el nivel Certified Sommelier en la Court of Master Sommeliers y el Diploma Certified Sommelier en la Association de la Sommellerie Internationale. Ha escrito para medios gráficos y online, tales como, Master wine, Caminos del Vino, Tiempo Argentino, Diario Los Andes, Wines of Argentina, Clarín y AOL Brasil. Se desempeña como Head Sommelier en los eventos organizados por Wines of Argentina. Ha disertado en consulados, embajadas y escuelas de sommeliers de Argentina y Latinoamérica. Está a cargo de las degustaciones llevadas en Argentina para Guía Peñín, Palacio de hierro y colabora activamente con Tim Atkin MW. Es fundadora de Winifera – Servicios Vitivinicolas, Aromas de Cocina y Lynx Consultores. A retail consultant, sommelier, cook and bartender, Laura is also Vice President of the Argentina Sommelier Association, and previously served as co-ordinator of the AAS in Mendoza. For many years she was a judge in wine, spirits and olive oil competitions. She has passed the Certified Sommelier in the Court of Master Sommeliers and the Certified Sommelier Diploma at the Som-melier Association Internationale. She has written online for Master wine, Caminos del Vino, Tiempo Argentino, Diario Los Andes, Wines of Argentina, Clarín and AOL Brasil. She serves as Head Sommelier at events organized by Wines of Argentina. She has spoken at consulates, embassies and sommelier schools of Argentina and Latin America. She is in charge of the tastings done in Argentina by Peñín Guide, Palacio de hierro and actively collaborates with Tim Atkin MW. She is the founder of Winifera - Wine Services, Cooking Aromas and Lynx Consultants.

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