Ray Isle (@islewine on Twitter) is Food & Wine's executive wine editor. We trust his every cork pop and decant – and the man can sniff out a bargain to boot. Take it away, Ray.
Today, I’m told, is Malbec World Day. Why it isn’t World Malbec Day, I don’t know, though certainly the Argentine Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Worship must; they, after all, are the ones who came up with it. Nevertheless, “Malbec World” sounds like a department store, and personally, I think that if they wish this celebration to catch on, they ought to reverse it.
That’s where my complaints end, though. I’m entirely happy with Malbec itself, a red grape that first achieved notice in the French regions of Bordeaux (where they largely ditched it after a big frost in 1956 killed off most of the Malbec vines) and Cahors. But French Malbec (or Cot, as it’s sometimes called) can be bruisingly tannic and tough, and it’s Argentina where Malbec has really come into its own.
The grape arrived in 1868, carried over by a French agricultural engineer named Michel Pouget, and now it’s grown on more than 75,000 acres. As well there might be: Argentine Malbec at its best combines vivid black-fruit and spice notes with a firm (but not aggressively tannic) structure. On top of that, there are very good Argentine Malbecs available for modest prices - never a bad thing. Here are five to check out.
2011 Durigutti Malbec ($12)
2011 Argento Malbec ($13)
2010 Terrazes de los Andes Reserva Malbec ($17)
2009 Finca 8 Reserva Malbec ($27)
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