Anthony Gismondi: Raise a glass to quality Malbec

The wine world celebrated the Malbec grape, and those folks who make Malbec last week.

Malbec production is increasing across the world in an industry that loves success, and loves to copy it even more. It wasn’t all that long ago that Malbec was a grape variety more likely to be discussed in a wine education class than on any wine label. Back then the story would have gone something like this:

Historically, Malbec has grown in over 30 different departments of France, where locally it was referred to as Côt, or Auxerrois. In the famed region of Bordeaux, where it was a growing concern until the great frosts of 1956, it was known under the synonym Pressac.

Interestingly, Malbec fell out of favour among the Bordelais growers — it was finicky to grow and average in quality — and it never regained its status after that fateful frost. Many Bordelais growers opted to not to replant Malbec to fill out their famous blends, but rather favoured planting more Cabernet Franc and Merlot.

It’s the Argentines and their, stony, high-altitude sites that have spawned the resurgence in Malbec, where it is now widely recognised as the national variety. It first arrived there in the mid 19th century and has thrived ever since, finally establishing itself as an economic force by the late 20th century.

Today it is the most widely planted red grape variety in the country, with around 25,000 hectares in the ground. That is roughly five times the total plantings in the Okanagan Valley.

You might say the success of Malbec in South America has renewed interest in Malbec in France — particularly from the region of Cahors in southwest France, where the quality of Cahors Malbec has risen dramatically.

But with fame comes imitators, and there is no shortage of cheap, flabby imitations of …read more

Source:: Vancouver Sun

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