Malbec World Day or “Día Mundial del Malbec” is celebrated on April 17. It commemorates the day in 1853 when Argentine president Domingo Faustino Sarmiento charged a French soil expert with finding wine grapes appropriate for Argentina’s diverse terroirs. Since expert Michel Aimé Pouget’s experimentations in the 1800s, Argentina has positioned Malbec as their stand out varietal.
1. Sacre bleu! The climate in Argentina is better for Malbec than in France where it originated
Disease almost decimated Malbec in France. Yet the varietal grows healthy and strong in the hot, dry climes of Argentina’s high country. Soils in the wine producing regions of Argentina are limestone and clay. The high-altitude Argentine growing fields produce more wine than anywhere else in South America.
Yesterday an IFWTWA webinar brought travel, food and wine writers together to talk about Malbec World Day. That’s where I picked up a few of these Malbec insider secrets.
2. Ancient Incan irrigation systems water Malbec grapes
Ancient Incan irrigation systems water the dry land on the eastern slope of the Andes Mountains where Malbec grapes grow in Argentina. Although the Incas were not present when the Spanish arrived, the canal system used to water the parched land in the rain shadow of the Andes Mountains suggests Incan influence.
With some modernization, the original canal complex still serves to irrigate the dry land where the Malbec grape thrives.
3. Argentine Malbecs are high altitude wines. Really?
High altitude in the Malbec wine-growing regions of Argentina increases the diurnal shifts causing the grapes to mature more slowly. Slow maturation increases acidity and produces greater complexities in flavors.
Since I live at 7,000 feet (2134 m) above sea level, it’s hard for me to recognize 5,000 feet (1524 m) as ‘high altitude,’ but when it comes to grape growing, it is so.
4. World Malbec Day surprise: ‘Cahors Black Wine’ is the original Malbec
The inky black color of Malbec wines of Cahors, France, earned the name “Black Wines of Cahors.” The varietal, planted there by the Romans 2000 years ago, is called Auxerrois or Côt in that southwest region of France.
The photo above shows the rainy, green climate of southwestern France, so different than the dry Argentine climate where Malbec thrives.
5. What food pairs with Malbec?
Malbecs pair well with charcuterie, stinky-style cheese, dark chocolate and berry deserts says Marie-Annick Courtier, food and wine expert and author of Food and Wine Pairing Demystified.
Lamb, Italian food and Spanish empanadas also pair with Malbec wine. Check out what fellow travel writer Robin Dohrn-Simpson pairs with her Malbec.
Marie-Annick was on our Zoom call yesterday lending her expertise. Her book makes a perfect gift for you or any wine lover for Malbec World Day or “Día Mundial del Malbec.” Me gusta!
Last thoughts on World Malbec Day ... er, Malbec World Day
In parting, I thought I’d give you a glimpse of my World Malbec Day, oops, I mean, “Malbec World Day” Zoom webinar. We each brought a Malbec to the “virtual table” during our COVID-19 pause.
The Pascual Toso 2018 Estate Malbec (Mendoza, Argentina) which I brought is inky purple, dry like a Merlot but with more berry notes than the chalky Merlots I used to drink. The price point is very good – especially for an estate-grown wine. What our webinar leader, Dave Nershi calls QPR – quality price ratio. The wine is rated 90 by James Suckling, and that caught my attention when I was making my selection. The screw cap helped solidify my choice as did the deep Fry’s discount. $18.99 (regularly) on sale for $10.99. With a $4.00 instant rebate for buying two, my final cost was $8.99.
When I got it home, I noticed on the back label that the full name of the estate is Pascual Toso. Pascual is evidently the owner’s name, and I liked his name’s association with Pascua de Resurrección or Easter. Since we just celebrated Easter at the first of this week.
The meat and cheese plate paired with the Malbec very well. Not a bad way to be separate but together on Malbec World Day.
As is common in the travel industry, UNSTOPPABLE Stacey was provided with accommodations, meals, and other compensation for the purpose of review. While it has not influenced this review, the Arizona travel writer believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest.
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