Today, April 17th, is Malbec World Day. Another day that gives us another excuse to drink wine. I don’t think any of us really needs another reason, but it makes the non-winos a little less judgmental. I was interested in why this day, of all the days of the year is declared Malbec World Day, so I Googled it.
The President of Argentina took it upon himself to transform the wine industry in Argentina. It was on this day in 1853, that he asked the French soil expert Michel Aimé Pouget, to bring new vines to Argentina. Pouget brought Malbec, along with other varietals. For the following years, Pouget experimented with adapting the French varietals to the terroirs found in Argentina. It was ten years later, when France underwent the Phylloxera plague, (you can read about that here) that Malbec began to flourish and was recognized as producing superior wines.
The majority of the French plantations of Malbec are now found primarily in Cahors in South West France and sometimes goes by the names Côt Noir and Auxxerois. It also is known as Pressac. It is a purple grape that is considered thin skinned, has a high sun requirement and is especially sensitive to frost. It ripens earlier than many other varietals and is often used as a blending grape because it adds the dark red color and tannin structure while providing its characteristic dark fruit flavors and smoky finish. It is one of the six grapes allowed in the blend of Bordeaux.
Biologically, the clusters of the Argentina Malbec vary from their French relatives. They are smaller and are found in tighter clusters. It is thought that the original clones of the Malbec are actually extinct in France due to the Phylloxera epidemic and the frost that hit a few years later. The current French expression tends to be more earthy and rustic with less new oak influence, while the Argentina Malbec lends itself to a less tannic structure and velvet texture.
When pairing food with Malbec, probably the first thing to pop into your mind is a steak. You can’t go wrong choosing flank steak, filet mignon or barbecue pulled pork. But if those don’t float your boat, there is always lamb, pheasant, duck or venison (none of which I would eat.) I can live a very happy life without beef, I just am not a fan so here are a few of my favorites: Charcuterie, fajitas, anything with a plum compote, marinara sauce entrees and cheddar. If by some miracle you still have any Malbec left after dinner (or hey,open another) don’t forget to finish your meal with a great dessert. I personally think blackberries and Malbec are a to die for combination.
Happy Malbec World Day everyone and I hope you are partaking. I’d love to hear what you are pairing with your Malbec tonight.