10 Jan 2014
The Telegraph by Victoria Moore
Argentina’s number one seller Malbec is a perfect comfort wine – a world away from Cahors, its gritty French forebear.
Let’s hope the 18th-century Frenchman responsible for propagating a certain grape, côt, through the Medoc, wasn’t a patriot. His name, Malbek, became synonymous with the grape but fate can be quixotic. Say it today and it’s not France you think of, it’s Argentina. Malbec, to give it the modern spelling, is not just Argentina’s biggest wine export – by a mile (we’re talking five times more, by value, than its closest competitor, cabernet sauvignon). It’s a vinous signature: an exuberant, big, scented style, a world away from the dense, grittily tannic, opaque wines from Cahors, that other centre of malbec excellence. And it has become a modern staple.
“Anything with Malbec on the bottle just flies out,” says Paola Tich of Park and Bridge wine shop in Acton.
Restaurant wine consultant and sommelier Alessandro Marchesan says Malbec is the red of choice of the well-lip-sticked out-of-towners who dine out in London at the weekend, in the same way that New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc has been the white.
“Malbec is like pizza and sex,” he tweets. “It doesn’t matter how bad it is for some people it will still be OK.”
Oh, hang on, that doesn’t sound quite so positive. I’m certain Marchesan doesn’t have any bad ones on his lists at the Shard and Roka but you can sense a certain frustration and he’s right to make the point.