When most of us think of popular red wines we quickly list cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir or merlot. But over the past 10 years an easy drinking, crowd pleasing red wine has made its way onto the list, malbec.
With its origins in France, this inky grape has historically been a blending partner in Bordeaux reds. In the Cahors region it is the dominant grape.
You may be asking yourself what does France have to do with a grape considered at home in Argentina? Around the middle of the 19th century a group of Argentine winemakers began consulting with famed French agronomist Michel Pouget. They set out for guidance for grapes they could plant to improve the quality of their wines and indigenous plantings they had used in the past. Much to the luck of wine drinkers today, Pouget recommended malbec, and the rest is history.
Growing this grape in France's climate tends to be a challenge with its susceptibility to rot and disease. So much so that a vineyard planted with malbec could be fine just up to harvest and an infection of disease or rot could devastate an entire crop. French growers logically planted less of the risky malbec and more of grape varietals thriving in their climate.
Yet malbec thrives in hotter high-altitude regions of Argentina's Mendoza without the threats of disease and rot known from growing in the French vineyards. The grape was still consumed primarily by locals until about 20 years ago. When many of the world's wines were going up in price consumers were searching for less expensive options, and Argentine malbecs were coming into the wine markets around the world. For many consumers it was an easy fit: refreshing, fruit forward, easy drinking wines generally under $20 fit the demand.
Today you will find malbec in not only value red wines but as the base grape for refreshing rose wines and sparkling wines.
Happy exploring because I think we will be seeing this grape continue to thrive in many vineyards, blends and styles around the world.
2018 Trapiche Oak Cask Malbec, Argentina (about $14)
2018 Calcu Malbec, Argentina (about $13)
2018 Tercos Mendoza Malbec, Argentina (about $13)
2018 Montes Classic Malbec, Chile (about $13)
2018 Pascual Toso Malbec, Argentina (about $14)
2018 Kaiken Malbec, Argentina (about $14)
2018 Bodega Norton Malbec, Argentina (about $14)
2018 Concha Y Toro Casillero Del Diablo Malbec, Chile (about $13)
2018 Alamos Malbec, Argentina (about $12)
2018 llama Old Vine Malbec, Argentina (about $14)
2018 Trapiche Broquel Malbec, Argentina (about $17)
2018 Corazon del Sol Malbec, Argentina (about $27)
2018 Tapiz Alta Collection Malbec, Argentina (about $21)
2018 Recuerdo Malbec, Argentina (about $25)
2017 Swinto Old Vine Malbec, Argentina (about $44)
2017 Luigi Bosca Doc Malbec, Argentina (about $29)
2017 Ricardo Santos Mendoza Malbec, Argentina (about $20)
2018 Belasco Ar Guentota Old Vine Malbec, Argentina (about $30)
2018 Antigal Uno Malbec, Argentina (about $18)
Lorri Hambuchen is a member of London's Institute of Wines and Spirits. Email:
CORRECTION: Casillero Del Diablo Malbec is from Chile. The wine's country of origin was misidentified in an earlier version of this column.