Malbec Check – 2010 Argentina & Chile

March 1, 2013

At this point in time, pretty much every red wine lover in this country, with any sense of adventure, has tried a varietal wine made from the Malbec grape, and more likely than not has been pleased with what they tasted. Argentina made a name for this grape in the last several years, a fruit whose previous life was as a long-time but lesser known Bordeaux grape. A deep frost in the late 1950’s did heavy damage to vines in its famous home, and while it was not widely replanted there afterwards, in southern France it persisted, and even now Cahors is making a play at reclaiming recognition for its long term relationship with this particular vine.

The old world however has very real competition, as Argentina set a pretty high quality bar in its production, both in volume and quality.  Other areas around the world from Washington State to South Africa are taking a shot at what they can do with Malbec, but Argentina’s next door neighbor across the picket fence know as the Andes Mountains, Chile, has also been tapping terroir in order to see if they can share in, and share the bounty.  Over the last few years, I’ve made wine from Chilean Malbec grapes shipped north, and been really happy with the results, so I was not surprised when bottles of Chilean import started showing up here in the states.

On a recent shopping trip I picked up a couple of bottles, to see how wines from Chile and Argentina compared, from the 2010 vintage, and at the same price point ($11). Both regions experienced a cool growing season that year, and Chile was rocked by a massive earthquake which damaged quite a bit of winery infrastructure. We made a flank steak, then put the Chilean Montes Malbec and Argentine Dona Paula Malbec to the test, and both made the grade.


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