Malbec World Day (April 17th.) is again fast approaching—yet one more reminder of the value to be found from the South American producer. While it’s true Argentina has built its reputation on Malbec, what might surprise you is that the grape’s popularity is relatively recent. In fact, we can probably, in part, thank Michel Rolland for kick-starting the world’s love affair with the variety. He consulted to wineries in Argentina back when there was little to no wine even exported.

Malbec is a crowd pleaser: its low tannins and fruit-forward approachable style often over-deliver for the money. And Malbec blends are also taking flight, especially with the evolution of plantings higher off the valley floor, as in Valle de Uco and elsewhere.
What’s interesting is that the grape used on its own really wasn’t supposed to happen. The variety used as a standalone was always given the cold shoulder, at least in some parts of France.

How come “l’épaule froide”?
Well, when you want to be less than complimentary to a variety, you can always call it a ‘blending’ grape. And that’s what Malbec was—and still is—in Bordeaux. However, in Cahors, they’ve known for some time (at least a few centuries) that they’re on to a good thing.

traditional asado, TP photo

What to match with Malbec? How about a traditional Argentine style barbecue?

The Argentines have been doing well with Malbec for quite some time. Back in the 19th century, a French agronomist shipped some to Mendoza. And while the variety flourished there, it wasn’t until Argentina’s wine exports took off in the 1990s that Malbec’s true potential truly became apparent. The drink of choice was more likely to be Bonarda—or Fernet!
If there is a downside to Malbec’s popularity, it’s that Argentina’s other varieties—which also often deliver unusually good value—get lost in the shuffle. So, by all means, go ahead and make yours a magnificent Malbec World Day. But once it’s over, don’t forget to check out the likes of Argentine Torrontes, Syrah and Cabernet …
Argentina is rightly proud of Malbec World Day, and with good reason: they’ve turned an “also ran” grape into great value wines with a variety of styles depending on from where it comes, and, increasingly, from what elevation.

Good Malbec comes from all over Argentina, including from Cafayate, just beyond these amazing mountains in Salta

Good Malbec comes from all over Argentina, including from Cafayate, just beyond these amazing mountains in Salta

Where to celebrate Malbec World Day (early) …

Enjoy free Argentinean wine tastings at 5 Vancouver private wine stores on Saturday, April 16 2016.
Each store will pour at least 3 different wines paired with samples of authentic Argentinean cuisine. It’s a great way to taste before you buy …

Everything Wine – North Vancouver, South Surrey & Langford locations – 2:00 to 6:00pm

Legacy Liquor Store – 1633 Manitoba Street, Vancouver – 2:00 to 6:00pm

Marquis Wine Cellars – 1034 Davie Street, Vancouver – PLUS a DJ will provide music at this lively event – 2:00 to 5:00pm

Throughout the month of April, BC Liquor Stores across the province will host over 50 Malbec World Day tastings.