Mostly Malbec

Argentina's red wines

It's almost impossible to investigate Argentina's red wines without discovering Malbec . But it's not all Malbec, all the time...

 

Originating in south-west France – where it was known as Auxerrois in Bordeaux or Côt Noir in Cahors – Malbec vines were first brought to Argentina in 1852 by Michel Pouget, a French agronomist hired by the government of Argentina.

Originally developed between 1900 and 1912, Humberto Canale's vineyards in Patagonia's Rio Negro are higher and cooler than the many vineyards to the north in Mendoza. Cool nights and hot sunny days moderate the growth of the grapes and produce intensely flavoured wines.

 

Attractively priced, Humberto Canale 'Diego Murillo' Malbec $9.99 shows a straightforward fruit profile of blueberry, plum cherry and blackberry aromas and flavours. Spicy hints of mint and earthy tree-bark fill out the finish of this cheerfully approachable everyday red.

Far to the north, beyond Mendoza, Salta's Cafayate Valley is home to Felix Lavaque winery. With altitudes that range between 5,200 and 6,500 feet above sea level, the Calchaquí Valleys is one of the highest terroirs in the world. The arid, sun-scorched climate is responsible for the grapes’ intense flavours.

 

A great example of Argentina's 'other' reds, Lavaque's Quara Estate Cabernet Sauvignon $14.99 delivers serious fruit and complexity for the price. Aromas of blackcurrant, fresh-cut green pepper, mint and dark plums set the stage for flavours that mirror the aromas with a twist of earthy beets in the finish.

Familia Zuccardi is Argentina's largest family-run winery, founded in the 1960s by Alberto Zuccardi, an engineer who began planting vines in Medoza's Maipú to show the benefits of an irrigation system he devised. 'Serie A' and 'Q' are Zuccardi's premium labels and were poured at the 41st Annual Vancouver International Wine Festival, Feb.23 – March 3.

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From Zuccardi's more affordable line of Santa Julia wines, Santa Julia Reserva Malbec $16.99 is made from 100 per cent Malbec grapes grown in Mendoza's Valle de Uco's high-altitude vineyards and cooler climate at the foot of the Andes Mountains. Cherry, plum and blackberry aromas foretell the same bright flavours in every sip. Wisps of smoky leather fill out the finish.

Finca La Mascota's vineyards cover 100 hectares of land at the foot of the Andes Mountains close to the Mendoza River. Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Cabernet Franc, Shiraz and Chardonnay are planted on 97 of those hectares. The Cabernet Sauvignon lot was planted more than 40 years years ago.

 

A luscious blend of 65 per cent Cabernet Sauvignon, 25 per cent Malbec and 15 per cent Cabernet Franc, Mascota's Unanime $28.99 moves from plum, blackcurrant and blackberry aromas into dark, jammy fruit flavours underpinned – after 20 months in new French oak - by wisps of vanilla, coconut, cappuccino and minty eucalyptus.

Inventive blends are continually appearing as Argentina's development of heir signature Malbec takes differing directions under diverse visions. Working with his sons Pato and Cristian and international consultant Alberto Antonini, Patricio Reich has made his mark with Bodega Renacer in a mere 15 years.

 

Made from bunch-dried grapes that lose a third of their weight to evaporation, Bodega Renacer Milmore Perdriel Red Blend $36.99 is Argentina's answer to Italy's Amarone. With

45 per cent Malbec, 40 per cent Cabernet Sauvignon, 5 per cent Cabernet Franc and 10 per cent Bonarda in this dried-grape blend, there's no shortage of berry fruit aromas and flavours. Cherry, raspberry, cranberry and blueberry predominate, with undertones of vanilla, chocolate, coffee, liquorice, and earthy fresh tobacco leaf lingering in the aftertaste.

 

Catch up to the exciting and innovative reds that are coming out of Argentina today!

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