Streams

Winemakers and the Rebirth of Malbec

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Ian Mount describes the nefarious scams, brilliant business innovations, and backroom politics that put Malbec on the map. For generations, Argentine wine was famously bad, but in 2001, a Cabernet Sauvignon/Malbec blend beat all contenders in a blind taste test featuring Napa and Bordeaux’s finest. The Vineyard at the End of the World tells the 400-year history of how Argentina became a wine mecca.

Guests:

Ian Mount

Comments [3]

Paula from New York, NY

The malbec boom is really something mostly large wineries have benefited from, and of course the region. Being a Mendoza native I have seen the most sought-after regions like Vistalba change from abandoned vineyards and cherry plantations into manicured winelands. I also wanted to mention this article in the summer issue of Gastronomica about the harvest celebration traditions and how they have changed through the centuries: http://www.pauladelacruz.com/vendima_delacruz.pdf

Jun. 01 2012 01:15 PM
Roger from New York

As a U.S. importer of Argentine wines for many years, starting prior to the recent boom period, and as a judge of their national competition, there are some elements to be added to your guest's account of the rise of Malbec. First, the appeal of Malbec for U.S. consumers rests with its familiarity in taste; in other words, Argentine Malbec closely resembles California reds in its accessible, ripe fruit qualities as well as its body and generosity (owing to elevated alcohol content). Indeed, the top Malbecs praised by critics are super-concentrated and ultra-powerful. It is debatable that 100% Malbec wines are distinguished by their complexity, and there is insufficient proof to date that they become complex with bottle aging. In fact, the most nuanced Argentine reds so far are blends of Malbec with other grapes (Syrah, Petit Verdot, etc.). With respect to market trends, there are clouds on the horizon for Malbec; sales of bottled (as opposed to bulk) wines on many export markets are trending down, not up, after a short burst. Shipments to the U.S., which grew exponentially for several years, were essentially flat in 2011, and this trend continues in 2012. (The figures can be viewed on winesofargentina.org.) U.S. wine consumers tend to search out the latest "hot" product, and then move on when it loses its excitement. It's possible this is already happening with Argentine Malbec despite a rather brief period in the spotlight. There is more to say, but I'll leave it at that!

May. 31 2012 02:05 PM

Largely unrelated, but can you answer us THIS—is it Argentine or Argentinian? And don't give me an 'either or' answer. I need some grammatical GUIDANCE!

May. 31 2012 01:03 PM

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