Malbec World Day
From Cahors to Cafayate
The story of South America’s No.1 Variety
April 17th marks World Malbec day, the day on which President Domingo Faustino Sarmiento made it his mission to transform the Argentinian Wine Industry. On this day in 1853 he asked French soil expert Michel Aimé Pouget to a bring selection of French vines to South America just years before phylloxera decimated vineyards across Europe and laid waste to the French wine industry. It was to be the inky-black Malbec that prospered best in Argentina’s extreme climates and altitudes, and would go on to produce both some of the most popular and, latterly, some of the most acclaimed wines in the world.
Known variously as Côt (Noir), Auxerrois and Pressac, Malbec is thought to have its origins in the Northern reaches of Burgundy, but since Phylloxera and the great frost of 1956, the majority of its production in France is limited to Cahors, the Libournais and the Dordogne.
Almost always deep purple in colour with firm tannin, Malbec tends to be a little more restrained in the Old World, often showing damson and blackberry character in its youth and earthy aromas of tobacco and coffee as it ages. In South America, and the blue-chip region of Mendoza in particular, it produces rich, robust wines with sweet bramble fruit character often intensified by the sweet spice and vanilla of new oak.
In a bid to provide a moderating counter-balance to Mendoza’s stifling heat, winemakers began planting at extreme altitudes in order to lengthen ripening periods and therefore retain freshness and acidity. Arguably the most prestigious producer of high-altitude Malbec is Nicolás Catena Zapata who is widely credited with elevating Argentine Malbec both literally and metaphorically being the first to plant vines 1500m up Tupungato, one of the Americas’ highest mountains. The results are world renowned wines of immense power and elegance. You can find them for sale at all of our stores alongside a whole host of other Malbec's from around the world on our online store.
So whether it be delicate Loire côt or a bruising Chilean Central Valley Malbec, let’s raise a glass to Sarmiento this Friday, you can rest assured we will be..