This Friday, April 17th, is Malbec World Day (MWD) thanks to a bill that was passed on April 17, 1853 that brought about the foundation of a Quinta Normal and a School of Agriculture. The bill led to the development of Argentina’s wine industry.
French agronomist Miguel Pouget went in search of a grape that would grow well in Argentina’s climate. He took several European vines back and set up an experimental vineyard. The Côt grapes flourished in the higher, drier climate of South America, and Malbec is now the country’s best-known varietal.
Malbec was also an important grape in France until the killing frost of 1956. This frost killed off 75% of the Bordeaux region’s Malbec vines. Some vines were replanted, but the grapes are now used mainly for blending with Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Tannat. In France the Malbec grapes are more intense and tannic.
In Argentine, Malbec stands on its own and provides an intense, dark wine with plum and berry flavors. Argentina has over 76,000 acres (over 31 hectares) planted in Malbec. Eighty-six percent are located in Mendoza. Because of the high altitudes and favorable growing conditions, Malbec vineyards seldom have problems with molds, fungi or insects so pesticides are rarely used, making organic wines much easier to produce.
Besides Argentina, Malbec is also grown in New Zealand, Italy, South Africa, Spain, and various regions in the United States. The grape is still grown in southern France but has decreased in popularity there since 2000.
Malbec wine makes up most of the total bottled wines sold in Argentina. Over 90% of this wine is sold abroad with the U.S. buying almost 50% of the Malbec exported wine.
Young, unoaked Malbec wines should be consumed within a year. Malbec wines that have been oaked for a few months may be kept for up to 2 to 3 years. Well oak-aged robust Malbecs may be cellared for up to ten years. Malbec pairs well with beef, pork, goose, BBQ, lamb, and hard cheeses.
Wines of Argentina declared April 17th Malbec World Day. The MWD celebration has gained worldwide attention and is celebrated in at least 30 cities around the globe, including New York, Toronto, and Washington in North America. Other countries taking part include South America, the UK, Africa and China.
To learn more about MWD events, visit http://www.malbecworldday.com or http://www.winesofargentina.org.
And plan to raise a glass of Malbec this Friday, in celebration of Malbec World Day, and one tenacious grape.