Malbec is a red wine with origins in southern France, where it is known as Cot, or one of many other names, depending on which region of France one visits. This variety of names exists because of the wine's ubiquitous presence throughout the country. Malbec lost its popularity in its French birthplace due to the region's weather, which caused the grapes to deteriorate and not produce a quality wine. Yet once the black grapes were transplanted into Argentine soil in the province of Mendoza, a powerfully aromatic wine emerged, rich in purple hue, and alive with enjoyable flavor. The environment of Mendoza encourages the growth of these grapes, bringing alive their strengths and consequently creating a flourishing crop. The location of the province, at the foot of the Andes, provides cover from pollution and inclement weather. Positioned approximately 2500 feet (762 meters) above sea level, Mendoza has concentrated sunlight, a temperate climate, and cool evenings, all which contribute to the successful development of Malbec grapes.
Malbec in Argentina
Malbec has been referred to as the "French Grape" (in homage to its origins), as well as Verdot or Malbeck. Argentina is known for producing some of the most outstanding crops of Malbec, embodying some elements of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. It is fashioned as a light wine, fresh with a fruity fragrance, plum taste, and full of tannin. Malbec can be appreciated in its youth as well as an aged wine. But if the grapes are harvested too soon, the wine misses the plum and licorice taste usually found as one sips it slowly. As one of the more prevalent varieties, in Argentina Malbec is considered the yardstick by which to measure the development of other wines, as well as evidence of a wine's quality. Mendoza, the home to Malbec, generates over half of all the wine that is manufactured in Argentina. And there's no need to spend a lot of money to find a perfect bottle of Malbec as all the offerings, even the economical varieties, can be quite enchanting.
As a deep, ripe, peppery, and substantial wine, it is a great accompaniment to Argentine red meats, lamb and pasta. Specific dishes to pair Malbec with include duck, goose, beef stew, moose, bear, caribou, elk, dove and pigeon. A glass of Malbec will bring out the rich flavors of the food, adding another dimension to the tasting experience.
Malbec and the Wineries
As Malbec is one of the most distinguished Argentine wines, bodegas throughout the country produce different varieties. Mendoza is the most prominent region specializing in Malbec, and is home to many vineyards. One winery located there, Bodega y Vinedos Maurico Lorca, produces more than17,000 bottles of Malbec each year. Another winery, Mythos Wines, one of the only wineries run by a woman, creates a version of Malbec combined with a Merlot. The winery Altos Las Hormigas is a collaboration between several Italians who decided to try Malbec winemaking. After an assault of ants (thus the odd name of the winery) nearly destroyed the vines a few years ago, the owners successfully created a unique type of Malbec that was later named one of the 100 best wines by Wine Spectator magazine.
The Future of Malbec
With an increase in exportation and further development of production techniques, Malbec will only continue to grow as a important contribution to the wine world. Although the wine may have failed as a French wine, as an Argentinean wine it has flourished. It is inexpensive, tasty, and easily paired with food - a winning combination that can only make the future bright for this amazing vino.
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