Winter Warmers: Malbec
Uncovering the perfect Malbec
Before Argentina ‘saved’ Malbec, the grape so now synonymous with that country was a lesser-known variety grown in relative obscurity in pockets of South-West France where it made bold, tannic wines that can age for decades. It is also one of the five grapes permitted in the Bordeaux blend, although rarely used these days and when it is so, in small quantities. Perhaps the most famous example the French expression of Malbec is the ‘black Cahors’ so named for its deep, impenetrable opacity.
Malbec came to Argentina, probably via Chile as early as the mid-19th century but it was only recognised as the jewel in Argentina’s crown in the 1990s. Softer tannins than Cabernet Sauvignon combined with the classic deeply coloured, spicy richness and exuberant fruit make Malbec an excellent early drinking wine.
A great example of the quality Argentinian Malbec can offer at a very reasonable price point is the Amalaya Malbec (85% Malbec with 10% Tannat and 5% Petit Verdot). Amalaya’s vineyards are situated in the Calchaqui Valley, 1828 metres above sea level and that extra altitude brings a fresh acidity that balances beautifully with those luscious fruit flavours Malbec offers.
It is hardly surprising that Argentina's neighbour Chile is now also producing some very successful Malbec. Chile has long had quite substantial plantings of old Malbec vines and in those vineyards where irrigation is not too enthusiastic and yields are not too high, Chile's Malbec can produce some lusciously ripe, dark and characterful wines. Viu Manent was one of the first Chilean Bodegas to specialise in Malbec and it is one of our favourites here at Morgan Edwards, offering the classic Malbec cherry, blackcurrant and wild blackcurrant flavours and a lovely, persistent finish.
If you like Malbec and want to try something a little different, the Altos Los Hormigos Mendoza Tinto could be the wine for you. A blend of 48% Bonarda, 45% Malbec and 7% Semillon (a white grape), this offers classic Malbec flavours with added citrus and tangerine notes combined with that necessary acidity.
What is your favourite Malbec? Comment below...