Today is Malbec World Day – a day around the world in which we celebrate a wine known as the signature varietal of Argentina. There’s possibly no better time of the year to look at the wines that make this day special.
Origin of Malbec World Day
The day was picked to commemorate a day in 1853 when the president of Argentina, Domingo Faustino Sarmiento, decided to elevate Argentina’s wine industry. He enlisted Michel Aimé Pouget, an agronomist to bring over French grapes, vines, and seeds to Argentina. Those vines included Malbec, which adapted well to the clay and limestone soils of Argentina. Malbec thrived so well in Argentina that it became its signature varietal.
Malbec’s history begins in France where the grape was one of six grapes utilized in the blending of Bordeaux wines. The Malbec grape in France is a sibling to the Merlot grape. Like Merlot, this varietal’s popularity decreased after 1956 when a frost killed off the majority of the Malbec vines in France. Fortunately, Malbec had already gained worldwide recognition as the grape of Argentina.
Characteristics of Malbec wine
The grape is known for its dark inky color. Malbec offers a range of flavors including flowers, berries, clove, vanilla, and mocha and produces wine that can be velvety, soft and delicate depending on the region the grape is grown in.
In Argentina, Malbec wines typically comes from three areas in the Mendoza region, Lujan de Cuyo, Maipu Valley and Uco Valley. Salta, which is higher in elevation, also produces Malbec.
Malbec wines: six suggestions for Malbec World Day
Domaine Bousquet Reserve Malbec 2016
Located in the Uco Valley of Mendoza Argentina, the owner of Domaine Bousquet was one of the pioneers to see the value of the land in the barren, desolate location where the Tupungato district of the Uco Valley lies. The Malbec is smooth and balanced making it an easy drinking wine.
Artisan Uprising 2014 Malbec
Representing Malbec that comes from Paso Robles one finds a deep rich wine with aromas of Lavender, thyme and plum and flavors of blackberries.
Amalaya Malbec 2016
From the Salta Region of Argentina, the wine blends Malbec with a tiny portion of Tannat and Petit Verdot. Amalaya means hope for a miracle and the vineyard growers wishing for a bountiful harvest. This Malbec comes across as a very impressive plentiful wine because of its integration. The addition of Tannat and Petit Verdot creates a unique Argentine version of a Bordeaux blend. The wine is smooth, velvety and round with flavors of plum accented by bright red fruit.
Colomé Malbec Estate 2015
Another wine from the Salta, Colomé is probably the oldest working wineries in Argentina, dating back to 1831. Not only is the winery located at one of the highest elevations in Argentina but the vineyards are planted on original rootstock that came from Bordeaux. The wine delivers more tannins and structure than some of the other Malbecs. The flavors exhibit dark fruit and hints of spice and pepper on the finish.
Malbec wines from Trivento
Two Malbec wines from Trivento also make the suggestion list. First, though, it’s important to understand what Trivento means and its relevance to Argentinean wines.
Trivento defines the three winds that affect the vineyards in Argentina.
The Polar wind, which comes in from the south and announces winter, indicating the time to prune the vines. The Zonda coming in from the Pacific and descends from the Andes Mountains. This wind is hot and dry and helps bring forth budding. It is also a clear indication that it is time to water the vines.
Finally, there is the Sudestada, a southeast wind with cool breezes. This wind can often lead to a summer storm that in turns invigorates the grapes. Ultimately, these winds play a role in the expression of the terroir and the growing of grapes and thereby leave their mark on Trivento’s Malbec.
Trivento Reserve Malbec 2016
This wine needs to breathe. When you first open the wine, the aroma of cinnamon is quite prevalent. Later after breathing awhile, the wine develops into a fragrant wine with hints of raspberries and florals. The wine is balanced and displays a sweet finish.
Trivento Golden Reserve Malbec 2014
The wine delivers a nose of cocoa, lavender and bright red fruit. Drink this wine over two days and see the rich depth of the wine transform from ripe raspberries to softer and subtler flavors of stewed fruit and white pepper.
Malbec wines to explore
Other Malbec wines worth exploring, include:
- Achaval-Ferrer Malbec Mendoza
- Rutini Encuentro Malbec
- Rutini Trumpeter Malbec
- Hahn Malbec, Santa Lucia Highlands
- Concannon Malbec, Livermore
- Mercer Malbec, Horse Heaven Hills
- Mount Aukum Malbec, El Dorada County.
Any of the Malbec wines featured are excellent choices to honor Malbec World Day. Be sure to break open a bottle of Malbec today and lift your glass in a toast to the day.
Note: This writer was hosted to the many of the wines sampled.