Malbec (MAHL-beck) Angel of Argentina
Originally a common grape in Bordeaux,
Malbec adds only a small percentage to the blends there. It has, however, found another region in which to flourish -the bourgeoning wine region of
In fact, Argentinians have adopted Malbec as their national grape!
Malbec is used in small amounts in Bordeaux
blends to add color and tannin. In Cahors, where it is also known as “cot,”
the grape makes wines there that are full bodied and able to mature – these wines
are dark and sometimes gamey, but delicious – they like to call it the "black" wine of Cahors.
But attribute its quick rise in popularity to Argentina. Here, Malbec has hit its stride – the grape produces
spicy wines reminiscent of blackberries and chocolate, with a velvety texture. Ranging from excellent value to higher-priced collectibles, Argentina has truly made this grape its own.
Summing it up
Successful sites:Argentina, Cahors, Bordeaux, some California
Common Descriptors: blackberry, plum, tobacco, spice, dark, full-bodied
Learn More About Argentina, South America
Now fifth in the world for wine production, Argentina is catching up in the quality wine sector. A long time wine producer, Argentina used to make wine in order to drink it, not export it. And so the wines produced were quaffable and rustic and made for the local's everyday dinner. Yet it's hard not to get caught up in the wine market of the world and some winemakers decided it was time for Argentina to show their stuff. Better winemaking technology was brought in, new winemaking techniques were learned and good viticulture practices flourished. The result? World-class wines with unique style and variety.
Unlike its Chilean neighbor, Argentina's vineyards are spread out around the country. The best known region is Mendoza, almost parallel to Santiago to the west. Mendoza contains the sub-regions of Maipu (pronounced MY-pu) and San Rafael. Grape-wise, the most important white is Chardonnay, making wine similar to California's style on the variety. Another fun white grape to try is Torrontes. Almost only grown in Argentina, Torrontes makes wines that are crisp, aromatic and easy-drinking. Some of the best versions of this wine come from the northern region of Salta, with very high altitude vineyards. As for the reds, Cabernet Sauvignon is the main grape for many wines leaving the country, but Malbec, the grape Argentinians like to call their own, makes very distinctive wines that are structured, dense and velvety. Many more varieties happily grow in the country, but for export, and consistent quality, these are the primary grapes.