Malbec, ah Malbec, it really is so much more than a wine to me. It is a reminder of long summer days spent in Patagonia in my late twenties with my gorgeous Argy boyfriend. We travelled to Brazil, Vietnam & Africa to go mountain trekking, however my favourite trip was when we went to his home in Bariloche, Patagonia in Southern Argentina. The trip was magical & I never wanted it to end, long romantic summer days with my gorgeous, romantic, exotic man followed by warm Argentinian evenings enjoying BBQ (An Argy specialty - trust me when I say you have entered meat heaven!) and endless glasses of delicious Argentinian Malbec...
....But I digress, back to the wine...
Argentina produces 75% of the world’s Malbec, and it is mostly grown in Mendoza - Argentina's "Wine Country" located in the North Western part of the country. Malbec is a BIG wine, deep in colour with a lot of very fruity flavours and some of them can be high in alcohol, it is definitely not an entry into red wine - I think that Malbec would be your kind of wine if you like either Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah.
Malbec needs hot temperatures and lots of sunshine to ripen so no surprise that it is gaining popularity in Australia, back home in NZ we don't grow a huge amount of Malbec but where it is grown are the Hawkes Bay & Gisborne - NZ's hottest wine regions.
My recommendations are all New Zealand wines because I love highlighting the cool things that NZ winemakers are doing but I definitely recommend picking up an Argy Malbec if you see one. The two most widely seen brands that I would recommend are Trapiche (tra-pee-chay) - pictured - or Chakana. These are both from Mendoza & you will get them for under $20 in liquor stores.
My first NZ Malbec pic is Matawhero Church House Single Vineyard 2015 from sunny Gisborne - Matawhero was Gisborne’s first boutique winery and have been making amazing wines since 1975. At Matawhero they aren't afraid to try things that are a little bit different and it's just one of the many reasons I love them - their Church House” series features varieties like Chenin Blanc, Albariño, and of course my beloved Malbec. This wine has a super fruit driven taste with just a hint of herbaceousness and you can pick it up for $26.00
From one oldest boutique winery to the next! Brookfields are the oldest boutique winery in the oldest wine region - The Hawkes Bay & they have been making amazing wines since 1937 (Wow) - their Brookfields Sun-Dried Malbec 2016 is a little slice of wine heaven. The Malbec grapes are hand-picked, and then sun-dried in trays before being made into wine. The act of sun-drying means that the grapes dry out just a little and in doing so enhances the sugar concentration, the colour and most importantly - the flavour - this wine is a mouthful of happiness with delicious plumminess and just enough oak to make it interesting without being too much. All that for $27? Yum!
Last and by no means least is the St Clair Pioneer Block 17 2015 from none other than the famed Gimblett Gravels in the Hawkes Bay. St Clair are a Marlborough Winery but their Malbec is grown in the Hawkes Bay as it needs a warmer temperature. It's a family run business that includes lots of amazing wines - I know the brand well & was so excited to see a Malbec on there - honestly nicer people you just could not meet! This Malbec is something just a bit special its deep dark aromas of blueberry, spice are complex but balanced & the texture can only be described as velvet. Way too easy drinking! This is a more premium offering from St Clair but I still think it's a steal at $37
Though my argy & I went in different directions (and my direction brought me to NZ) I hold the wonderful memories of our time together close to my heart & if I ever need a reminder of those amazing days & how lucky I was to have even a short time with this amazing man, I just open a bottle of Malbec & reminisce!
Click on the audio link below to hear the whole story & my recommendations.