Category Archives: Argentine Malbec

May 05 2015

Great Value Argentinian Malbec: Vintage Cellars Double Bay Masterclass

Posted on May 05, 2015 | By

At least 40 percent of British people would likely rate Malbec as their favourite wine

Writing for The Guardian in London, wine critic Fiona Beckett recently said that she reckoned if you asked a random selection of people what their favourite red wine was, at least 40 percent would say Argentinian malbec! “These days”, she wrote, “it seems to have ousted even rioja in our affections. And you can see why. It shares rioja’s appealing fullness and smoothness, but it’s a bit brighter and fruitier, though not as jammy, as say, an Australian or California red.” (Wine: move over Spanish rioja – Argentinian malbec is the new red kid in town by Fiona Beckett, The Guardian, 15 November 2014)

I’m guessing Argentinian malbec isn’t nearly as popular in Australia. And it’s not because our tastes differ widely to the British. Because of distance and our relatively small population, we don’t see nearly as many imports on our our shelves, especially from New World wine regions like Argentina.

Great value and high quality Argentine Malbec is now more widely available in Australia

But if the quality of wines on offer at a recent Vintage Cellar’s tasting is any guide, some very good and great value Argentinian malbecs at different price points can now be found in Australia.

Lunta_malbec_2010_med__65080.1405350735.1280.1280One of my favourite wines of the night was the big yet elegant Achaval-Ferrer Malbec Mendoza 2011 (rrp $54.99). Made from mainly old-vine malbec from single vineyards in three different regions of Mendoza, the wine had a delightfully floral nose with mineral accents. The fruit was ripe but not too sweet and, while the palate was medium-bodied and the tannins quite polished, the wine had enough structure and complexity to age for quite a bit longer.

Achaval-Ferrer has a well deserved reputation for … Read the rest

Aug 08 2014

A Few Interesting Facts about Malbec

Posted on August 08, 2014 | By

Malbec is a wonderful wine to enjoy with a winter meal

In the Cahors region of southwest France, where Malbec is the main grape variety, the most famous regional dish is cassoulet – a hearty haricot bean based stew that typically includes confit of duck, sausages and other meats. The beef loving Argentinians, who have made the malbec grape their own, believe the wine is perfect complement to char-grilled steaks or ribs.

Malbec has become synonymous with the Mendoza region of Argentina

Argentina has the oldest malbec vines in the world

Just like the original shiraz vines that were planted in South Australia in the mid to late 1800s, the 19th malbec vines of Mendoza region in Argentina were untouched by the phylloxera outbreak, which devastated vineyards across France. Fortunately, many of the old vines also escaped a state-sanctioned vine pull in the 1980s.

Today Argentina has the oldest malbec vines in the world, many of which are still growing on their own natural root stocks. One of Argentina’s most celebrated producers, Achaval-Ferrer, makes three single vineyard ultra-premium malbecs from vines that are between 90 to 105 years old.

The top malbecs of Mendoza are beautifully expressive of their terror

Mendoza is situated in the foothills of the snow-capped Andes mountain range. Summer days are hot and dry, but the temperature cools down considerably at night and the wineries can take advantage of the clean, crystal clear cool water coming off the mountains to irrigate their vines.

In Mendoza vineyard altitude is key to quality

In a fascinating article about Mendoza in the latest edition of Gourmet Traveller Wine Australia, Dr Thomas Girgensohn explains that academic and winemaker Nicolas Cantena realised that the altitude of the vineyard was a key factor influencing grape quality. (Made in Mendoza by Dr … Read the rest

Dec 12 2010

Argentine Malbec: The World’s Best Value Red Wine?!

Posted on December 12, 2010 | By

The Wine Spectator recently released its Top 100 Wines for the year. Argentina was well represented with five wines (Australia had six), and all of the Argentine wines were malbecs, mainly from the Mendoza region at the foothills of the Andes in Argentina.

According to the Wine Spectator’s wine critic Matt Kramer: “There is no greater value in red wine anywhere in the world today than Argentine malbec.” (Augustus Weed, 2010 New World Wine Experience: Miraculous Malbec, The Wine Spectator, 1 November 2010).  Of the five Argentine wines in the Top 100, only the Trapiche Mendoza Vina Fausto Orellana de Escobar 2007 (rrp $US48) was more than $US25.

Malbec is one of the accepted varieties in Bordeaux. The Cahors region in south-west France was granted appellation controlee status in 1971. Due to the ravaging effects of phylloxera and changing tastes, until recently malbec plantings in Cahors were in decline. But perhaps spurred on by the export success of the variety in Argentina, some outstanding producers are now making fine examples of this big, rich and darkly coloured ‘black’ wine.

The spotlight, however, is on Argentine Malbec. Here the variety thrives in the high altitude and semi-desert landscapes of Mendoza and the surrounding regions. One of the wines in the Top 100, the Bodega Colomé Malbec 2008 (ranked 66th), from the Calchaqui Valley of the Salta province, holds the record for the world’s highest vineyard at 3000 metres!

The combination of high altitude, long days of bright sunshine and the warm, dry La Zonda winds, which bring warmth to the high altitude vines, produce vivid fruit of intense flavours, good acidity and fine tannins. Many of the better wines are made from 100 plus year old vines.

In contrast, French malbec is subject to a shorter growing season, which produces … Read the rest