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Posted: March 18, 2009

Mike Connors starred in “Malbec” — right?

Much like Argentinean culture, Malbec displays a warm and lustful nature

Cathie Beck—The Wine Wench

I’d heard the word, “Malbec” before, but until last week I thought it a Canadian city, as in Malbec, Ontario, Canada. When it occurred to me that might be wrong, I felt certain Malbec was the 1970s cop show starring Mike Connors.

Finally, a friend with Argentina ties, delicately informed me that Malbec is the grape of Argentina’s wine culture — and that the country known for Tango dancing, gauchos and soccer — also lays claim to producing and exporting Malbec capable of standing up against anything like it in the world.

However, France (surprise, surprise) holds claim to Malbec grape origins, particularly the Bordeaux region of France. More often referred to as "Côt," the grape is also known in less prominent French wine regions, like Pressac, Pied Rouge, Jacobain and Grifforin, though Malbec never really became an important grape in the overall scheme of France’s wine culture.
 
Wine drinkers know of Malbec in large part because it’s often used for blending, and Argentina, unlike France, is taking a different tact with the grape. There, the Malbec thrives in the sunny climate, and the country’s made the Malbec its signature grape.

Much like the country, Malbec displays the warm and lustful nature of Argentinean culture, a wine that is ripe, full-bodied and built for robust, dark-fruit flavors. Unlike a Pinot Noir, which strives to be complex, while staying buoyant, the Malbec is earthy, woodsy and rustic. 

But even seasoned wine drinkers may not know that Malbec is undergoing a quasi-revival in Australia, blended into the country’s Shiraz, Cabernet and Merlot. However, Australia doesn’t necessarily celebrate the grape and many old Malbec vineyards are not replanted. Furthermore, Australia doesn’t market its Malbec and exportation is very low.

That isn’t to say there isn’t plenty of Malbec in the states. There’s a almost a subculture of Malbec devotees and those who know the grape and the wine well, will debate its value endlessly, insisting that some blended Merlots wouldn’t exist without high quality Malbec infusion.

And it might be worth a debate to suggest that Mike Connors launch a new televisions series. It could be titled, “Malbec: The Man, The Merlot Blends.” It could happen. Mannix was a hip guy. Besides being Mannix, the smart Los Angeles cop, he was also boss to his secretary (who may or may not have been more than his secretary) and the offspring of two California vintners. For real.

But this brilliant idea — it could also be debated — might simply be the side effect of the second glass of Finca Sophenia Malbec 2005 I just finished.

Recommended Malbecs:

Dave Anderson of Applejack Wine & Spirits in Wheat Ridge suggests these Malbec wines:

Luca, $37.99
Catena, $17.99
Altos, $8.99
Luigi Bosca Reserva, $19.99
Maipe, $9.99

And he adds, “Malbec, though grown significantly in Cahors, France and in Argentina, is also grown in the Loire Valley, California, Australia and Chile, though in much smaller amounts. There are more and more Argentinean Malbecs every year and the quality is also getting better every year. The wines tend to have good acidity and tannins with great berry flavors. Give them a try.”

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Cathie Beck, a/k/a The Wine Wench, can be reached at: TheWineWench@comcast.net. Please forward any and all wine events, wine-related news items directly to her.

Enjoy this article? Sign up to get ColoradoBiz Exclusives. The opinions expressed in this article are solely that of the author and do not represent ColoradoBiz magazine. Comments on articles will be removed if they include personal attacks.

Readers Respond

Cathie (a.k.a. Wine WIZARD )it is always inciteful and enlightening to read your column. Keep up the good "work" Clink! By Rod Derrer on 2009 03 25
I've always been a reverse wine snob, refusing to learn anything about wines because it was just too complicated. I just drank what was available or provided by my long-suffering friends. Cathie makes wine so accessible and fun that I have actually started paying attention! Now I plan to impress my friends by asking their thoughts on the Malbec grape. By Elizabeth Twomey on 2009 03 21
It's easy to buy an expensive bottle of good wine...just plunk down your hard earned cash. Anyone can do that. However, the Wine Wench talks about wine that is fairly priced, not over the top out of reach bottles that then require a "special occasion" to be opened. Cathie talks about reasonably priced wines. Cathie's suggestions allow me to enjoy different wines without spending heaps of money! Her humor and enjoyment of wine clearly come through. It's nice to hear/read a wine critic that is having fun! By Kevin Dorr on 2009 03 20
Great column! I love the that I can learn a bit every time and feel like I'm becoming an expert. Have discovered great wines and wine community that I didn't know existed. Keep on pouring! By Wine Wench Fan on 2009 03 20
I think the Wine Wench is great because it delivers basic wine information to novices such as myself that don't really know a lot about wine...but would like to! It's nice that Cathie suggests actual wines that are reasonably priced. She also has a good sense of humor and is fun to read. Thanks Cathie! By Heather Gallien on 2009 03 20
Okay--so I love the Wine Wench's column! Call me crazy, but I enjoy that someone else does all the research and I reap the benefits of knowing more about quality wine. Quite literaly, I "drink" the benefits. Unfortunately, the great suggestion of location and pricing require I hop in my car and go for a short drive across the border. But there is, despite location, some good choices of Wine in Laramie and the Wine Wench's advice helps me look good for those friendly get-togethers. Yes--I love wine so I am biased. By Nancy Marlatt on 2009 03 20

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