The Malbecs of Argentina
Did you know that Argentina is the only country that have original Malbec vines of true French heritage?
A Long Tradition & History
In 1853, Michel A. Pouget – a French agronomist, who was hired to create and run the Quinta Normal of Mendoza, arrived at Mendoza.
Before this, he had been working for the Quinta Normal of Chile, so he brought with him his experience, his knowledge and “a load of plants and seeds that included strains of various types, such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir. One of them was the Malbec grape” (Beezley, William. “La senda del Malbec: la cepa emblemática de Argentina”).
Today, with vineyards covering 97,574.91 acres (40K hectares), Argentina is the main producer of Malbec wine in the world!
It is followed by France, Italy, Spain, South Africa, New Zealand, and the USA.
Malbec Everywhere: the differences among Argentina wine regions
— Cuyo wine region:
This is the main producer of Malbec. Mendoza is currently the most cultivated province: its 84 253.15 acres represent 86% of the Malbec plantations in the country. San Juan follows with 5 157.68 acres.
- Luján de Cuyo
The Malbecs of Luján de Cuyo (Mendoza) are worldwide known for their unique characteristics: intense, dark cherry red color – which may look almost black-, mineral expressions with black fruit and sweet spices standing out.
Did you know that the first Appellation of Origin of the Americas was Malbec Luján de Cuyo?
- Uco Valley (Tupungato, Tunuyán and San Carlos)
The Malbecs from this region are more elegant with spicy and floral notes.
— North wine region:
Salta holds 2 793.11 acres of vineyards and La Rioja 1 755.71 acres. The Malbecs of the north region are characterized by aromas of very ripe red and black fruits, black pepper and paprika, with a very good structure of solid, sweet tannins.
— Patagonia wine region:
The Neuquén and Río Negro sub-regions now have 2,457.05 acres covered in Malbec vineyards.
The Malbecs of Patagonia are characterized by notes of ripe black fruits in combination with marked mineral notes.
As Wines of Argentina claims, these geographical and weather features make Argentine Malbec stand out particularly for the quality of its tannins: sweet, silky, and round.
Research from the World’s End
In Patagonia, particularly in San Patricio del Chañar, enologists of Bodega del Fin del Mundo permanently seek for the best expression of Malbec. Bodega del Fin del Mundo is the first winery in the province of Neuquén.
Knowing the terroir has always been a concern for them ever since one of its owner cultivated the first vineyards in San Patricio. For this, the winemaking team studied the different soils in the area and selected pieces representing each of them.
When asked about the research, Ana Viola – one of the owners – explained that at first, given that nobody had ever planted vineyards before, they thought it would be a good idea to cultivate different varieties to identify which had the best results. Their eagerness to see how the soil responded led them to cultivate not only Malbec, the flagship variety of Argentina that was already emerging, but also many others that, for marketing reasons, were not sold as varietals later.
As the vine grew older, they noticed each piece of land performed differently in terms of yield, sensitivity to winds, sun and even frost.
On a second stage, the final study consisted of 39 test pits that revealed 4 different soil types; the study focused on the 3 main ones. These different soils were typified because their composition varied significantly due to their size and arrangement.
They decided to analyze Malbec for its importance – it is the iconic strain of Argentina – and for its strong presence in other regions, which would allow to compare the wines produced there with the results obtained by Bodega del Fin del Mundo. In the research, the enologists analyzed the way Malbec ripens in the different basic land units: Pleistocene terrace, Alluvial colluvial fan and Modern fluvial terrace.
Each showed significant differences in the development of the canopy, the ripening times and the organoleptic analysis of wines. This confirmed the key role the soil type plays in the characteristics of a wine and allowed to choose the best plot for each variety. Correlations were noticed between soil depth and wine acidity. Results about the organoleptic differences will be expanded and systematized during the 2018 harvest.
Malbec World Day aka #MalbecWorldDay
Six years ago, Malbec World Day was established to commemorate the approval of the law that allowed to build the Quinta Normal de Agricultura de Mendoza where the Provincial Legislative building stands today. That happened on April 17th, 1853, with the support of Mendoza’s Governor Pedro Pascual Segura. Pouget, the French expert, and Sarmiento (Argentina´s President at that time) were crucial personalities for this project to succeed.
April 17th was chosen by Wines of Argentina for the celebration of Malbec World Day because this date marked the starting point for the development of this variety, the flagship of the Argentine wine industry worldwide.
Article Sources & References:
This information on this page was provided by María Suarez Lago exclusively for Social Vignerons.