I wrote last time that Malbec originated in France. Today, nearly 70% of all Malbec vineyards are in Argentina. It came to the country in the late 1800s, and thrived in the sunshine, high winds, and thin soils of its adopted homeland. Malbecs from Argentina don’t have the same dark tannins and dry fruit as Malbecs from Cahors; they have more of a fruit-forward, plummy and soft style.
When people talk about Argentine wine, they are usually talking about a region named Mendoza. Mendoza makes roughly two thirds of all the wine produced in Argentina. But, like any wine-making country, Argentina has a number of wine regions, each with their own character. Someone who is a little more adventurous will be rewarded with some interesting and delicious wines. There are plenty of different styles of Malbec out there, you just have to find the right one (or ones) for you!
2013 Zorzal Terroir Unico Malbec, ARG $16
The Zorzal winery is located in the Tupungato Valley. Tupungato is actually a sub-region of Mendoza, but has several characteristics that set it apart. Tupungato is a very high altitude region, with most of the vineyards sitting at over 4,000 ft above sea level.
The Zorzal Terroir Unico Malbec comes from a single vineyard located at 4,500 feet (a grand cru site in Burgundy has an average elevation of about 1000 feet). The sunlight during the day is much more intense, causing higher daytime temperatures. However, the cooler nights slows down the ripening of the grapes, letting them develop character and structure more slowly. This structure and complexity definitely comes through when tasting Zorzal. It is full-bodied, bold, and layered, herbaceous and savory, with notes of coffee, blueberry, liquorice, and spice. This wine pairs well with a simple grilled steak or a mushroom risotto.
2013 Los Postales Fin del Mundo Malbec, ARG $14
Los Postales Fin del Mundo Malbec comes from Patagonia, about 500 miles south. When most people think of Patagonia, they think of ice climbing and penguins, not winemaking, but its cool climate makes for elegant wines.
Because of its southern location, Patagonia is Argentina’s coolest winemaking region. The area also has rocky soils and low humidity, all of which help grapes to develop slowly and retain acidity. Wines from this climate also tend to have more tart fruit flavors as well. Los Postales Malbec has dark, sweet fruit flavors of plums, blueberry compote, and cinnamon. It is gentle and fruity on the palate, with smooth round tannins. Try this with spicy Indian takeout or barbecued ribs.
Either of these two wines are a great way to start exploring the different sides of Malbec!
Related Post: Malbec, The Black Wine Of France