Malbec wine is a rich-bodied and flavorful liquor that shares a special love story with Argentina and a less passionate relationship with the rest of the wine lovers across the world. Some put its lack of popularity on its bitter aftertaste, while others dislike its vibrant acidity.
For true connoisseurs of red, fruity wines, Malbec is an excellent addition to almost any meal and the perfect tongue-releasing aperitif for early evening conversations. If you want to find out more about this elegant, rare liquor, here are the most interesting facts about Malbec Wines:
Malbec hates cold weather
Malbec is a picky vine that cultivators have a difficult time growing. It hates cold weather, but it thrives best at high altitudes. Its best conditions for development have to differ significantly between night and day. So, if you want to plant a Malbec vine of your own, make sure that the place where you live has extremely hot days and freezing cold nights, much like the dessert.
Born in France
Malbec is originally from the Southwest of France, where the locals sometimes refer to it by Côt or Auxxerois, and it is the crossing result of two esoteric grape varieties from Montpellier and Gaillac. The big differences in temperature between night and day in this region seem to have favored its local popularity, but only to a certain point.
The climate changes of the past century have increased the local temperatures, and the Malbec vines in this region are more susceptible to pests. Nowadays, the largest quantities of Malbec wine come from Cahors, a small town in the Bordeaux area
Raised in Argentina
The Malbec variety was close to extinction in the 19th century when a pest outbreak known as phylloxera destroyed most of the grapevine cultures in France and Europe. Around that time, Malbec found an unlikely home in and around the Mendoza region in Argentina.
The governor of this region was fond of Malbec wine and ordered the town’s botanist to cover the hills with Malbec vine. The desert-like region of Mendoza offered the ideal conditions for the grapes to develop rapidly and healthily. This fortunate twist of events allowed the Malbec variety to survive and thrive until today.
Malbec only grows in 7 countries worldwide
Although it is originally from France, the Malbec vineyards in this country cover only 15,000 acres. In comparison, Argentina plants Malbec grapes on more than 75,000 acres, which is why it is the no. 1 provider of Malbec wine with 75% of the global production.
Other countries where vine growers managed to cultivate Malbec successfully include USA, Chile, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand. The reason for this weak presence at a worldwide level is due to Malbec's high sensitivity to adverse weather conditions.
Different tastes for different regions
If you pour Argentinian Malbec from the Mendoza region into a red wine glass, you will see a deep purple-red, almost opaque liquor that leaves thick marks of tannin on the walls and rim. Tasting it will give you a mild acidic pinch of the tongue and flavors of chocolate, leather, and tobacco. The aftertaste will feel like a fruity aroma of blackberries and plums.
On the other hand, drinking Malbec from France, USA, Australia or any other region should give you a completely different experience. These varieties tend to have less tannin and acidity, as well as a lower percentage of alcohol. Their taste resembles bitter currant, black plums, and dark leather. The aftertaste is a spicy aroma of black pepper and raspberries.
Malbec aging makes all the difference
Wine tasters often have problems in identifying the age and aging process of the Malbec variety in their glasses. Because this red, rich-bodied wine has such a strong aroma, it does not require extensive aging in oak barrels. Most of the Malbec bottles that you can find on the market contain liquor that has been aged for only 6 months.
Malbec wine that has stayed in an oak barrel for as much as a year has a particular blueberry smell, and it is a bit harder to find than its younger version of 6 months. Any Malbec bottle of wine that has been aged for more than 18 months will be difficult to track down and considerably more expensive than its younger siblings.
Malbec pairs with most foods
When it comes to pairing Malbec wine with foods, you can safely stick to your favorite dishes that abound in dark or red meat that carries strong, earthy flavors. Whether you grill it, bake it, place it in a burger or cook it in a stew, the lean meat will be a great companion to Malbec wine.
Malbec also goes great with spices, herbs, and mushrooms. Additionally, you can pair it with goat cheese and semi-firm cow cheese, as well as with walnuts and almonds. This versatility is available for all assortments of Malbec, regardless of their country of production.
Malbec the American way
There is one region in the United States that produces remarkably tasty Malbec. In Alamos winemakers profit from the desert-like weather conditions to create a rich and flavorful wine from the Malbec thick-skinned grapes that grow there. Very few of these producers sell their liquor internationally, but if you get your hands on one of their bottles, you surely must take a sip.
The International Malbec Day
Do you remember that 19th-century Argentinian governor of Mendoza who singlehandedly saved Malbec from extinction almost two centuries ago? Well, his name was Pedro Pascual Segura, and he helped pass a law on the 17th of April 1853 for the formation of a School of Agriculture in the region, which prepared all the generations of grapevine researchers that have excelled in this field in Argentina ever since.
One of Segura’s most trusted collaborators was the botanist Michel Aimé Pouget who introduced the governor to Malbec wine. Segura loved this liquor so much that he supported Pouget’s ambition to cultivate it in the area. Since their efforts helped the wine industry in Argentina develop successfully and subsequently save Malbec wine from disappearing, the date of April 17 is when the entire world celebrates Malbec wine.