Monday September 22, 2014

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Malbec: The bold, red wine of Argentina

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There is no doubt in my mind that these frigid temperatures are here to stay. I'm not sure about you, but I often opt to stay inside. For me, warmth, comfort and hard food are what it's all about at this time of year.

Wild rice casserole, slow-roasted prime rib... what wine pairs with this substantial stock? Argentinian Malbec.

It is beyond debate that Malbec, despite being native to France, is Argentina's signature grape. Argentina brought this grape world-wide recognition and, as a result of Argentina's success, there has been a significant increase in both single-varietal Malbec and Malbec-dominated red blends on the market.

There are many newly released wines, from boutique to bulk-production, not only from Argentina but from other countries as well. You need only scan liquor store shelves for proof.

The are of Mendoza in Argentina is considered by many to be an ideal spot for Malbec. The best vines grow in the foothills of the Andes at a height of 1,000 metres.

If you read the reverse label of a Malbec wine from the Mendoza area, altitude is often stated as an indicator of quality vine-growing sites.

Malbec makes a deep-purple toned red wine, often highlighted by a magenta or brilliant cherry rim. It's dense and full-bodied with lush, juicy black and blue fruit and soft tannins.

When I was first exposed to Malbec from Argentina, I found it possessed a distinct yet somewhat overwhelming char-like quality – presumably from time spent in heavily toasted oak barrels.

Over time, this quality has been moderated by many producers, although it does remain notable in many wines.

The following wines are available at some MLLC locations and private wine stores. Prices were verified on Jan. 13, 2014.

Luigi Bosca Reserva Malbec, 2010
Argentina, PRICE: $16.34

This wine is from Lujan de Cuyo, one of two prime growing areas within Mendoza. Dark purple with a magenta rim, this wine reveals aromas and flavours of blueberry pie, plum and hickory, balanced by smooth tannins. A dark, fruit-laden smoky finish.

Melipal Reserve Malbec, 2008
Argentina, PRICE: $35.65

This wine features a nose of Nanking cherry, strawberry, juicy black fruit and roses. A full-bodied wine with velvety tannins, herbs, blueberries, warm alcohol and ripe black fruit on the palate. The finish is smooth and long on this stunning wine.

Gouguenheim Malbec Reserve, 2010
Argentina, PRICE $13.71

From Mendoza, this wine's reverse label states that the grapes used in its production are from vines located in the foothills of the Andes at a height of “more than 1,000 metres above sea levels”. It has a brilliant dark-cherry core with a magenta rim, and dried cranberries, violets, oak and tobacco on the nose. The palate reveals dark fruit, bitter cherry, smoke and soft tannins. It's a good introduction to the Argentinian Malbec.


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