It’s not often that a wine grape gets a party thrown in its honour. But the global passion for the bold personality of red wines made in Argentina from Malbec has turned April 17 into the grape’s feast day.
World Malbec Day commemorates the day in 1853 when President Domingo Faustino Sarmiento suggested diversifying Argentina’s wine industry. His proposal led to the importation of a number of European vines, including the future star.
Today, Malbec represents roughly one-third of the vines planted in Argentina. For many wine lovers, the South American country has become synonymous with Malbec despite its French heritage.
Argentina is capable of making a great deal of stylish red wines, notably from Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah, but its success for producing Malbec in a friendly, easy-drinking style has made it the go-to red wine for many. It effectively stole the thunder from Australian Shiraz as the consumers’ choice thanks to brands such as Fuzion.
Bargain bottles of Malbec offer generous fruit, soft texture and a hint of sweetness. Even more excitement is to be had with more expensive offerings from Pascual Toso, Catena and Clos de los Siete. Such wines have more depth of flavour and complexity, which make them more memorable and enjoyable.
Now in its third year of operating World Malbec Day, Wines of Argentina is coordinating big bashes in cities around the world. Last year, 142 events were staged in 68 cities in 43 countries. Momentum continues to grow. Information about the initiative, including a roundup of events, is available via winesofargentina.org/malbecworldday/
In Toronto, LCBO Vintages hosts its own walk-around tasting celebration April 16 from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at Roy Thomson Hall. Cost is $65 per person. Visit vintages.com/events for more details.
Wines of the Week:
Dourthe Freres 2009 Clos de los Siete, Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina
BC $24.99 (128710) | AB $19.95 | MB $26.99 (622571) | ON $21.95 (622571)
This splurge-worthy wine shows how effectively Malbec takes the lead in a red blend. Combined with Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Petit Verdot, this stylish and ripe red offers robush flavours and serious smoky/spicy character. It’s a bold red that deserves decanting and serving in the biggest bowl wine glasses you have.
Bodegas y Vinedos Santiago Graffigna 2010 Centenario Malbec Reserve, San Juan, Argentina
BC $12.99 (795377) | AB $14 | MB $13.99 (006729) | ON $13.45 (230474)
A first class barbecue wine, this affordable red showcases the simple charms of the Malbec grape. It’s juicy with complex spice and floral notes that are easy to appreciate. The easy-going character and value price make it a great every day option for solo sipping or as a partner with burgers or pizza.