The soft warmth of a fine Malbec wraps itself around you like a cozy blanket on a cold winter evening, while its opulent fruit flavours and kiss of oaky smokiness also make it a great companion for bbq’d meats on a hot summer day. Malbec is the go-to grape for just about any wine-lover on just about any occasion. It’s delicious enough to be enjoyed on its own, or it can marry beautifully with a number of dishes, from formal Sunday roast beef dinners to casual pizza deliveries.
There’s no question that Malbec has blossomed into Argentina’s flagship grape. The grape only arrived from pre-phylloxera France sometime in the mid 1800s, but it has taken to the vineyards, the soil, and the climate like it’s been there forever.
I first experienced Malbec about 12 years ago on vacation in Buenos Aires. In restaurants there at the time, a bottle of local wine was about the same price as a bottle of pop, so naturally we ordered wine. Since Malbec was a relative newcomer to Canadian liquor store shelves back in 1999, I wasn’t very familiar with it. The Malbec we drank in Buenos Aires with the typical Argentine fare of huge slabs of beef was juicy and very approachable. We drank a lot of Malbec on that trip, and I have enjoyed it ever since.
The ideal Malbec has a sensual, velvety texture and is overflowing with enticing aromas of spicy red and black fruit with a rich, lingering finish. Bodega Catena Zapata, Trapiche, Clos de Los Siete (a blend of Malbec, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Petit Verdot), Carlos Basso, and Bodega Norton are among my favourites.
There are many occasions when I find myself reaching for a bottle of Argentine Malbec – when I’m having a party where I just want a reliable red wine at a reasonable price that I know all my guests will enjoy – or when I really want to geek-out and ponder the vintage, altitude, and mesoclimate of the specific vineyard where the grapes were grown. Yes, there’s a bottle of Malbec out there for just about everything!