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Argentine Wines: Malbecs from Mendoza

malbec grapes
The Malbec grape has thick skin &
high acidity, yielding robust wines
in Argentina's Mendoza valley.


If you're looking to explore the realm of red wines beyond Merlots and Pinot Noirs, try an Argentine Malbec.

A medium- to full-bodied red wine, Malbecs are earthy and wood-like, with flavors reminiscent of dark fruits like blackberries, plums and cherries.

When aged in an oak barrel, notes of vanilla and leather can also be detected. In general, these wines contain firm tannins and good acidity and are ideal when poured at a temperature of 58 degrees Fahrenheit, or 14.5 degrees Celsius.

Malbecs are best paired with Argentina's world famous steak, particularly bife de lomo or bife de chorizo, and rich cheeses. The wine also pairs well with spicy foods; try it with Mexican, Cajun, Indian or Italian cuisine. Some enjoy it with a rich dessert or bitter dark chocolate as well.

While the Malbec grape originated in Bordeaux, France, it was perfected in the wine-growing valleys around Mendoza, Argentina. These grapes are sensitive to changes in climate and altitude. In cool conditions, or high altitudes, the grape has thick skin and high acidity, yielding strong-bodied, robust wines. In warmer conditions, or lower altitudes, Malbec wines are lighter and best drunk when they are young.

In France, the grape is primarily blended with other wines, like Merlots and Cabernet Sauvignons, to soften the taste. But in Mendoza, the dry, temperate climate and high altitude are ideal conditions for the Malbec, resulting in small, dark, juicy grapes that are soft enough to produce excellent single-varietal wines.

Top Mendoza wineries

The Malbec grape is also grown in the United States and New Zealand, but the numerous wineries around Mendoza, Argentina, have emerged as the world's best producer of Malbec wines. Some of the best Mendoza-area wineries for Malbec, as selected by the editors of Wine Enthusiast magazine, include:

Alta Vista
Altos Las Hormigas
Carlos Pulenta
Catena Zapata
Cheval des Andes
Clos de los Siete
Cuvelier Los Andes
Enrique Foster
Fabre Montmayou
Felipe Rutini
Finca Sophenia
Luigi Bosca
Monte Cinco
O. Fournier
Pascual Toso
Ruca Malen
Susana Balbo
Terrazas de Los Andes
Valentin Bianchi

Because of the depressed Argentine economy, it's relatively affordable to sample a good Malbec, even outside of Argentina. In the U.S., a decent Malbec from a renowned Mendoza winery will set you back between $12 and $18.

About the Author...
Jessica Arriola Marati


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