7/29/08

What the Heck is a Malbec..?

A: a furry nocturnal critter from the Australian outback.

B: a type of transmission from early 60’s sports cars.

C: a character featured in several works of Shakespeare.

D: a variety of grape originating from France as one of the six allowed in Bordeaux red wine blends, but currently gaining popularity as Argentina’s signature wine.

The answer of course, is “D” – the grape.

Malbec has enjoyed a renaissance the past several years. The reason: It has found a home…

Despite its origins in France, the Malbec varietal has little to no momentum in that country. In the mid-50’s frost killed almost three-quarters of the crop, and it has never regained prominence. Cahors, in the southwest of France is the main growing region in that country now, where Malbec is generally known as Auxerrois or Côt Noir.

While it is also grown in Australia and the United States, the true Malbec hotspot is in South America.

Long known for the Tango, Gauchos and chimichurri sauce, Argentina and its Mendoza region in particular on the eastern side of the Andes mountain range has proven to be a harmonious match for the Malbec varietal. Several bodegas (wineries) including Altos Las Hormigas, San Pedro de Yacochuya and Bodega Norton are turning out excellent product. These Argentinean bottles are even showing the ability to age nicely.

Malbec wines are generally medium to full-bodied and characterized by a plum and blackberry jam quality along with hints of anise and earth components and hearty tannins. A bottle pairs well with steaks, but also has the backbone to work with spicier foods such as Indian, Mexican and Cajun.

For the full experience, try a grilled steak topped with some chimichurri sauce, a side of roasted potato wedges and a bottle of an Argentinean Malbec. A meal fit for a true connoisseur..!

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