Malbec – Mendoza – Argentina. Three words that are setting the wine world alight.
Malbec is Argentina’s superstar, a bit like how Shiraz and Australia are famous around the world. Elsewhere in the world Malbec is used as a blending grape and is one of the lesser known grape varieties used in the wines of Bordeaux. However in Argentina it is revered and they produce more Malbec than any other country, with most of it grown in the region of Mendoza. Mendoza is an arid, high desert region of sand rock and clay soils. It is perched on the side of the Andes mountain range and the vineyards are planted at incredibly high altitudes. The region receives virtually no rain fall and if it were not for the ready supply of Andes melt water, viticulture would not be possible.
The uniqueness and quality of Argentinean Malbec is a combination of this altitude and climate. Vineyards are generally planted 1300-3000 metres above sea level and the extra UV light that the grapes receive cause the grapes to develop thicker skins, with greater colour. The cooling effect of the attitude means that the grapes preserve acidity even when they are allowed to hang for quite a while before the harvest.
What this all means is that Argentine Malbec from high altitude vineyards are characterized by their deep colour and intense fruity flavors with a velvety plush texture that matches brilliantly with the meat-rich Argentine diet. I love Argentine Malbec and Donã Paula produces one of the best. Unbelievable quality for the price. The thing I like about Malbec is its versatility, reminding me of Merlot. You can match it with food, but it is great to enjoy as it is. Remember though that the national diet of Argentina is meat, so don’t stray too far from this when you are food matching. Try with lamb chops and a fresh fennel salad, which will match the intense floral notes of the wine, including fennel seeds and scents of liquorice and cherries. The wine is medium bodied with ripe plum and mocha notes. It has firm tannins, a great sign of its cellaring potential, but it is still very approachable. I am sure you will love this wine as much as I do.