Despite being born in France centuries ago, Malbec hasn’t been very well known. Well, that’s until it became one of the world’s most popular red wines over the past ten years, seemingly coming out of nowhere. With a ton of juicy fruit flavour, it’s incredibly easy to drink. These days, it may be hard to imagine that Malbec wasn’t available everywhere for the longest time, but its growth in popularity is actually quite recent.
Malbec was born and grown in France, where it was mainly used as a blending grape for the famous Bordeaux blend. Although the grape had an amazing potential to become a single variety wine we know today, only a single region of France, Cahors, did so. As a result, the wine hardly ever made its way out of France.
The main reason why Malbec failed to succeed alongside Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noirand Merlot is its susceptibility to disease and rot. This happened because the roots of the grape didn’t respond well to the French climate. Therefore, there was always a risk of losing an entire crop just before harvest time. Clearly, no one is able to take such risks, so the winemakers avoided planting too much of the fruit that could potentially die, giving up land to other grapes instead. There was just enough of Malbec planted to add to a blend if the grapevine was actually to survive the season.
In the mid-nineteenth century, a group of Argentine winemakers were looking for a grape to improve the quality of the local wine. The French agronomist consulting them, Michel Pouget, suggested Malbec. The vine cuttings were later brought back to Argentina and planted in the wine region of Mendoza.
The Malbec vines thrived, thanks to the hot high altitude of the region, not indicating any of the weaknesses they had in France. It felt like Malbec had belonged to Argentina all along.
For almost a century, Malbec remained exclusive to Argentina, with little being exported. The wine got better and better over the years, but most people around the world still had limited knowledge of the grape. That’s until the early 2000s when economies around the world began having trouble, which led to European and American wine prices to increase considerably. So, people started to look for cheaper tasty alternatives and that’s when Malbec was finally noticed!
The wine popularity spread via word of mouth. Even now, it’s found more in people’s homes rather than in fancy restaurants. After the initial spike in popularity, other countries, such as Chileincreased their production of the wine as well. The grape shares a lot of characteristics with Merlot, especially those that make the wine easy to drink, with added spice and acidity.
If you are serving a diverse crowd, Malbec is always a safe and crowd pleasing wine.
If you are looking to try this interesting Argentinian wine, buy a bottle of Malbec at ZYN in Calgary, Alberta, Canada or shop online at ZYN.ca!