M & M's - Malbec & Mendoza

M & M's - Malbec & Mendoza Image

Like peas & carrots or peaches & cream. What makes Malbec & Mendoza such a great combination?

This month we are talking Malbec, the principal grape variety of Argentina, a country which has the largest acreage of Malbec vines in the world; and Mendoza, the city and surrounding region of Argentina where 70% of the country's Malbec is grown.

Argentinian Malbec typically displays notes of dark, ripe fruits such as damsons & spicy blackcurrant and floral violet notes.  Some say it also tastes of dark chocolate and tobacco.  A real comforting Red Wine.

A really great example of a Mendoza Malbec is from Bodegas Nieto Senetiner. Nieto MalbecIt is silky and warming with hints of blackberry, plum and cherries… this pairs perfectly with a succulent char-grilled steak or prime Rib of Beef.

Originating in Bordeaux and nearby Cahors in the South West of France, the Malbec grape was rather unloved and underestimated. So why is this grape variety so important to Argentina? Brought to Argentina in 1852 by French agronomist Michel Pouget, this grape found a natural home on the slopes of the Andes mountains and thrived, making it a very prosperous commodity in Argentina.  Grown here, it looks and tastes very different to that of its French origins.

Now, strictly speaking, Mendoza's latitude doesn't make it an ideal wine growing region, it's normally too warm, but Mendoza's vineyards are some of the highest in the world (around 2,400ft), and therefore cooler; the typical overnight temperature in the high-altitude vineyards are low enough to allow grapes to ripen slowly, which makes them well-flavoured & deep coloured.

Argentina also has possibly the greatest diurnal (day/night) temperature variation in the world.  That means warm, dry, sunny days and long cool nights, which are perfect for the production big flavoursome reds. The longer the grapes take to ripen, the more fruit sugar (thus more alcohol!) and more flavour; and in Mendoza, biggest is best.  Hence the heavy bottles that carry many of the Malbec's.  It's all about Machismo.Turno de Noche Malbec

One wine that encapsulates the energy and vibrancy of Mendoza is Turno de Noche, which translates as the Nightshift; this is when Mendoza really comes to life!  It has a bright, lifted nose of black berry fruits and expressive violet notes. A weighty red with soft, gentle tannins and a long fruit charged finish.

But it's not just the altitude and temperature that makes Argentinian Malbec so good, Malbec from Argentina is probably one of the purest of Malbec's of all, since the vines are planted on ungrafted French rootstock. Most French root stocks across the globe were destroyed by a phylloxera epidemic in the late 19th century. However, in Chile and Argentina the disease was unable to survive in the soils and so the French rootstocks remained protected.

Now, the other big reason that Malbec and Mendoza are such a great success story, is the fact that it pairs so well with the staple diet of Argentina, red meat.  We often use the term, “where it grows, it goes” and nowhere else is this more true than South America.  If a wine doesn't pair well with Steak here, then you simply won't sell very much of it! 

All this is making me feel very thirsty, and extremely hungry, so why not pop in during March, pick up a bottle or two and see for yourself.  I'm sure the local butchers will provide the perfect piece of meat to go with it. Salud!

Join Us for Marvellous Mad Malbec March!! During the month we have over 15 Malbecs on offer with Malbecs open for tasting every weekend! 

For more information about Malbec the Grape or even the region Cahors where Malbec orginated. Click here...

Last Updated: 07/03/2018
Author: Sean Driscoll

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