Argentine Malbec: Old dog, new tricks

19th February, 2014 by Lucy Shaw - This article is over multiple pages: 1 2 3
Sebastian Zuccardi

Sebastian Zuccardi

Sebastian Zuccardi, who recently became responsible for all of the wines in the Familia Zuccardi portfolio, agrees with Pelizzatti that Altamira holds great promise for Argentina: “We need to stop trying to sell Malbec as a commodity. The terroir differences are huge between the regions – I believe Gualtallary and Altamira are the best sub-regions in Mendoza for Malbec due to the minerality their chalky soils impart in the wines,” he says. Rothhardt, meanwhile, believes story telling is key to engaging consumers about terroir. “I’m trying to teach our customers about the terroir differences across Argentina and push the regionality message as it’s an important story to tell. I’m never sure how much of it sticks, but it’s crucial that we do it.”

With a new and enthused troupe of winemakers emerging on the scene, Argentina’s wine future is incredibly bright. There’s a genuine sense of camaraderie in Mendoza, with established wineries renting tank space to
emerging winemakers seeking international acclaim. But while they continue to fine-tune their Malbec offerings, they also need to prove that the country is more than just a one-trick pony.Argentina-Mountains-Vineyard

Alejandro Vigil

Alejandro Vigil

Zuccardi is doing much to dispel this myth via his regional Bonarda blend Emma, named after his grandmother, and a blanc de blancs traditional method sparkler that spends five years on its lees. His friend and fellow trailblazer Alejandro Vigil, chief winemaker at Catena Zapata, is doing the same by flying the flag for Cabernet Franc, which he believes is “the future” for Argentina, in two single vineyard offerings, while plantings of Petit Verdot among the country’s more cavalier estates are on the rise and Cabernet Sauvignon is being shown increasing care and attention.

Crozier is optimistic about what lies ahead for Argentina: “A new generation of winemakers spearheaded by Zuccardi, Vigil and Matias Michelini of Passionate Wine are shaping the future. Having learnt from the likes of Daniel Pi and Roberto de la Mota, they are throwing themselves into what they do with astounding energy and fearlessness,” he enthuses. Argentina, it seems, is just scratching the surface of its potential.

One Response to “Argentine Malbec: Old dog, new tricks”

  1. Mendoza Wine Tours (@MendozaHolidays) says:

    Malbec is one of the original five main Bordeaux wine varietals. However, it continues declining in popularity in Bordeaux. Malbec was an important grape varietal in Bordeaux wine prior to the phylloxera epidemic. Numerous chateaux classified in 1855 used it in their blends prior to the onset of phylloxera. The final fall from favor for Malbec in Bordeaux began with the famous frost of 1956. After the frost, growers began replacing it with varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot . Today, Malbec is only used as a minor part of blends in Bordeaux.

    In Argentina, several quality producers are making wine from 100% Malbec with great success in the high altitudes and terroir of Argentina. In fact, the fruit reaches its best expression today in the Mendoza region of Argentina. There are numerous producers making outstanding wine in Mendoza. Several Bordeaux chateaux are working in the Mendoza region today including; Chateau Mouton Rothschild, Chateau Cheval Blanc with the aptly named Cheval des Andes and Vignobles Garcin with Poesia. Malbec is deep in color, thin skinned and full of tannin. It requires specific climatic conditions to fully ripen. When ripe, it adds color, tannin and spicy characteristics to the wine.

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