October 3, 2009
Source: Toledo Wines and Vines (Ohio).
One of my friends is a psychology professor at a university out West. One of his favorite stories is about how he decided on his “signature drink.” He apparently tired of always ordering nondescript cocktails and wanted something with the cachet of James Bond’s “shaken and stirred” martini. He enlisted some students to observe him in the bar as he ordered several different drinks and evaluate the reaction of others in the bar – especially the women. After running through several failed alternatives, (the Old Fashioned, the Box Car, and some fruity fru-fru drinks) he settled on the Gibson confident that all citizenry would sit up and take notice when he strode to the bar and confidently ordered his signature drink.
I think of Malbec in much the same way. Why order a wimpy house Merlot when you can call for an exotic Argentinean Malbec! Malbec is exploding with popularity due to a sumptuous taste and unbelievable values.
The undisputed king of Argentine wines, Malbec is rich, dark, robustly and fruity. Malbec has its roots in the Bordeaux region of France, where it is one of six grape varieties approved for making red wines. Malbec is typically just a small percentage of the blend. In fact, the amount of Malbec being grown in Bordeaux has been diminishing over the years.
Argentina, which has a highly developed wine culture, born of its Spanish roots and nurtured by waves of immigrants from other wine-loving countries, has welcomed Malbec with open arms. Malbec has made Argentina, and especially the region of Mendoza, famous as a center for world class wine. It is the major red varietal planted in Argentina, which supplies more than 70% of the world’s Malbec. It is one of the few wines that have found greater fame in the New World than the Old World.
Flavor notes include plums, blackberries and even coffee. Some of the best examples taste like a softer, lusher Merlot. Malbec also ages well. The Malbec name is not yet well recognized and so you can score some good bottles at reasonable prices. The Gascon Malbec is a tasty value we sampled two nights ago with friends. It’s a sure winner.
Malbec is also known as Cot and Auxerrois in France. It is the dominant red grape in French Cahors, however, Cahors is not a well-know French appellation. Malbec is also planted in Chile, California, South Africa, Italy and New Zealand with it typically blended in these countries.