Thursday, 19 March 2015

Malbec: an old grape variety enjoying a new lease of life

Malbec is an old grape variety enjoying a renaissance of popularity thanks to its success in Argentina.

While these dark, inky grapes originated in the south of France and are one of the six varieties allowed under the Bordeaux appellation, the French heartland for malbec is now Cahors in South-West France, where it is also known as Auxerrois and Cot.

The massive popularity of the variety in Argentina, particularly in and around Mendoza, has over the past decade seen malbec become a global phenomenon with sales spiking everywhere from London to Sydney.

Launched in 2011, World Malbec Day falls on the date when – more than 150 years ago – the first plantings of the the grape variety were authorised in Mendoza, Argentina's principal vineyard region. 

This year over 70 events will take place in 64 cities of 50 countries around the world to celebrate how malbec has flourished in its new homeland of Argentina. 

After acclimatising to its new conditions, malbec delivered unprecedented levels of quality and produced unique wines (softer and less tannic, generally than those from Cahors), but remarkably Argentina only started its export drive in 2000.

In 2014, Australia's malbec imports increased by almost 30% compared to 2013 – close to double that of any European nation and Australians appear to have developed a taste not only for malbec, but all things Argentine. 

In Melbourne, the Gauchito Gil World Malbec Celebration at the Ormond Hall on April 17 will feature over 80 malbecs on tasting, along with empanadas from some of Melbourne’s best Argentinean/South American restaurants and a tango show.

One of Australia's leading malbec producers; Ferngrove from Western Australia's Great Southern, will host Making Noise About Malbec at Perth's The Terrace Hotel on April 17 from 4.30-7.30pm. The $40 fee includes wines plus paella and churros. 
At Sydney's Zeta Bar on April 29, six of the best high-end malbecs from some of Argentina's most famous winemakers will be on taste with an Argentine-style canapĂ© degustation, entertainment from tango dancers, exclusive prizes, plus a bottle of malbec to take home. 

There are pockets of malbec planted throughout Australia's wine regions but it is more usually blended with cabernet sauvignon or shiraz than made as a stand-alone varietal - a huge pity. 

Maybe Argentina's triumphs will see more Australian wineries willing to experiment. 

For more information about Malbec World Day visit , or

For events scheduled in Australia go to: and

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