• Dominic Perri

The Rebirth of Malbec

What happened to Bordeaux Malbec?

Cabernet Sauvignon hasn't always been the undisputed king of the left bank of Bordeaux. Malbec was, at some point, the dominant varietal choice in the region due to its ability to generate wine blends with irresistible aromas of dark fruits and lush tannins. As one of the famed Bordeaux varietals, Malbec is now most commonly associated with Argentinian wines. But how was Malbec knocked off its pedestal? Those gosh darn grapes!

The Malbec grapes proved to be extremely finicky in Bordeaux due to their susceptibility to fungal diseases that were prevalent in the region’s wet, maritime climate. By 1956, a devastating frost caused the Bordelaise to rethink their strategy since Malbec was dependent on a "perfect" vintage year to make quality wine. So, they began to plant Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot since they both successfully ripened under the stricter elements and were good blending partners. Just like that, Malbec all but disappeared from the region.

Malbec's New Home

Luckily, Malbec wasn't lost forever with its abrupt departure from Bordeaux. A century earlier, viticulture was expanding in South America, and a French agronomist brought the then famed Bordeaux varietal to Argentina to see if he could emulate the best of France. The experimentation had begun to see if Malbec grapes would be more successful in a dramatically different climate.

As it so happened, Malbec flourished in the hot, almost desert-like environment. The hot weather warded off potential fungal diseases while receiving an abundance of sunshine. Malbec had found its new home, where it could peacefully ripen under the sun and return to its fruitful flavors that had been tarnished by the temperamental weather in Bordeaux.

Other Bordeaux wines include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Carménère, and Petit Verdot.

Malbec World Day - 4/17

April 17th is a remembrance of Malbec's brush with near extinction. And an ode to the research center founded on April 17, 1853, where Malbec got a second chance and thrived.

One of the best features of Malbec is that it is one of those very few wines where value can be had at virtually every price point while not getting too expensive. This is the case because vineyard land is not nearly as expensive as in other places, like Napa Valley for example. And dollar for dollar, these exceptional full-bodied wines stack up with the best of any New World offering.

So, raise a glass (or two!) this month in celebration of the grape that found a new life far away from its home. Have a great Malbec World Day!

Yahyn's Wine Of The Month

Alhambra Malbec Reserva 2018

Winemaker Notes:

Reigning from the Uco Valley in Mendoza, Argentina, this is a classic malbec with all the quintessential flavors that make this grape so appealing. A deep, lush profle gives off dark notes of mocha, chocolate, and rustic earth, while the finish is soft and balanced. This is incredibly drinkable and works well with darker meats or chocolate.



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