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June 14, 2024

India’s Love Affair with Malbec

Nikhil Agarwal – Sommelier & CEO, All Things Nice
You ask anyone about Malbec today and you will probably get two reactions – Argentina and delicious. Indians have found a grape variety that seems to have ticked all the boxes for what most wine drinkers in India like. No wonder any wine retail shelf will most likely have more choices of Argentine Malbec than any other grape variety from one country. Additionally, seven out of ten times you will find a Malbec served by the glass on any wine list.
While Argentina and Malbec seem synonymous, the truth is that Malbec did not even originate in Argentina, it originates from Cahors in France. The grape varietal travelled along with the church and people during mass immigration to South America from Europe many years ago. Malbec has travelled from the old world to the new world and made the new world home.
Unfortunately, you will not find too much Malbec from Cahors here in India, not because it is not superb. It’s just that the demand for Malbec is all but satisfied by wineries from Argentina and for practically all consumers, that’s where they want their Malbec from.
Grape wine
Photo Courtesy: Mauro Lima / Unsplash
What you might not realise is that your favourite wines from Bordeaux will have a little Malbec in the mix along with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petite Verdot. In a sense, you are drinking a little Malbec from France after all.
In Argentina, this grape has thrived and is now their claim to fame in the wine world. On the high slopes of the Andes Mountain range in the region of Mendoza, the grape varietal has found its new home. Wineries seem to be pushing the limit too, trying to plant vines higher and higher for purity of fruit and elegance. Whatever they seem to be doing it’s working. The quality of Malbec from Argentina has never been better.
Grape wine
Photo Courtesy: Roberta Sorge / Unsplash
Malbec offers us juicy, dark fruit flavours that are full-bodied with relatively less aggressive tannins, this is what makes it so compelling. Wineries traditionally use French oak to age their wines for several months ranging from four, six, twelve and up to about twenty-four months. Sometimes the style of Malbec the wineries produce is more restrained, with less fruit upfront, however, these too shine the moment you accompany the wine with some food.
You’re able to find pocket-friendly wines that are good and perfect for your everyday tipple, you can move up the ladder and get a Malbec that has additional layers of complexity and some oak ageing and finally the top end where the quality is so high that in a blind tasting, I would not doubt that wines of this calibre could even trump their more famous old world counterparts. All of us should explore the higher-end offerings from Argentina rather than relegate the category to value offerings only, you get so much more for your money’s worth.
Grape wine
Photo Courtesy: Howard Bouchevereau / Unsplash
This grape varietal is also perfect to match with Indian food. It’s got all that it takes – weight, fruit, decent acidity and lowish tannins. We can pair our hearty gravy dishes or our kebabs or even spicier dishes. Malbec is an approachable wine for people who are new to wine as well as to pair along with food that they are familiar with.
Here are four top-end, fine Malbecs from Argentina that you should get your hands on. Ideally one should decant them for a good 45 minutes or more and then give them a try.
Alta Vista Terroir Seleccion Malbec 2018, Mendoza, Argentina
Alta Vista Terroir Seleccion Malbec 2018, Mendoza, Argentina
Photo Courtesy: The Wine Cellar
Deep purple in colour, this wine has aromas reminiscent of spices, fresh and ripe fruits and some mineral notes. In the mouth, it is expressed by its fresh attack, its great breadth, its soft tannins and its long finish.
Zuccardi Aluvional Gualtallary Malbec 2016, Uco Valley – Mendoza, Argentina
Zuccardi Aluvional Gualtallary Malbec 2016, Uco Valley – Mendoza, Argentina
Photo Courtesy: Corks & Screws
Intense red colour with violet reflections. On the nose, the notes of red and black fruit such as plum, cherry and blackberry stand out, which harmonize with fresh aromas of herbs and a floral note of violets. On the palate, it is juicy, with elegant tannins, marked acidity and mineral texture.
Susana Balbo Ben Marco Malbec 2017, Uco Valley – Mendoza, Argentina
Susana Balbo Ben Marco Malbec 2017, Uco Valley – Mendoza, Argentina
Photo Courtesy: Good Wine Online
Aromas of fresh black fruit and floral notes of violets. The palate shows great balance, very fine tannins and a thread of acidity going through its core, lifting it up and going its length.
Mythic Block Malbec 2018, Mendoza, Argentina
Mythic Block Malbec 2018, Mendoza, Argentina
Photo Courtesy: Living Liquidz
Tell-tale only Malbec hue with a nose of freshly picked violets and ripe berries seamlessly integrated with spicy chocolate notes. Intense and full-bodied wine notable structure yielding gentle tannins.
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