Malbec: Argentina’s Adopted Son

These days, Malbec is synonymous with Argentina. From humble beginnings, this wine, named for its grape, has come into its own in the foothills of the Andes in and around Mendoza, Argentina. There, underneath the snowy peaks, the ripening Malbec grapes hang in the light, clean air above the dusty ground. The reliable blue sky hangs down with rows of clouds reflecting the vineyard layout on the ground. Malbec has traveled a long way, but here deep in Argentina, has now found its home.

Malbec’s genesis was in southwestern France, where it still contributes to Bordeaux and other wines (especially in Cahors). The Malbec of Argentina, however, broke from French Malbec. Planted in Argentina over a hundred years ago, Malbec descended from a clone that no longer is found in France. The Argentine version produces small and tightly clustered grapes, generating a wine both fruity and smooth. The purple Argentine Malbec, although not thought of as an electrifying wine, is rich, robust wine. Drink it with a steak and you will be converted.

Even with Malbec’s long history in Argentina, the Malbec craze that has swept the wine world owes much of its resurgence to when vintners started planting Malbec at high altitude, a climate new to Malbec. In a word, it thrived. And before long, the Malbec of Argentina gained an international reputation. Now land dedicated to Malbec covers over 50,000 hectacres, becoming in the process Argentina’s unofficial official wine.

In comparison to other premium, exported wine, Malbec from Argentina is reasonably priced. Quality Malbecs are available for less than thirty dollars, although some of the more established wines cost over $100. The best Malbecs habitually grow at high altitudes. This is what made Argentine Malbec a wine in its own right. Argentine Malbec, unlike French Malbec, has sweet tannins, along with fruit and floral aromas.

Thanks to Argentina, Malbec is no longer a provincial wine. And although it may never be Merlot or Pinot Noir, its taste, aroma and price ensure that Malbec is a wine here to stay. So it’s time that an Argentine Malbec joins your favorites in your wine cellar.