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10 things you should know about Malbec

Chinadaily/ANN |

Malbec to Argentina wine is like football star Lionel Messi to the country’s football. Malbec and football are some of the best things which Argentina’s has to offer to the world, besides Tango and barbeque.

Malbec is Argentina’s signature grape. Many consumers and even winemakers believe Malbec is a grape that has belonged to Argentina all along. However, it was born in France.

Malbec was primarily used as a blending grape as one of the five Bordeaux varieties. It had great potential but never became a top French variety as the grapes are very vulnerable to weather and pests. In the late 19th century, a disease called phylloxera caused by insects killed most of the Malbec plantation in France. Fortunately, the variety had been well adapted in Argentina by that time.

In 1852, Malbec was brought to Argentina by Michel A. Pouget, a French agronomist who was hired by the Argentina government. The hot high-altitude Mendoza made an ideal location for Malbec to thrive.

Besides Mendoza in Argentina, the plantations of Malbec are primarily found in Cahors, South-west of France.

The Malbec wines from Cahor, France rarely have "Malbec" written on the label, because Cahors is always associated with Malbec, and it is the French tradition to not focus on the grape variety but the geographical region.

The US is the major market for Argentina’s Malbec, followed by Brazil, Canada and the UK. According to winesofargentina.org, Argentina wine only had a share of 1.2 percent in China in2013, while French wine dominated with 49.9 percent. However, China has become one of the fastest growing markets for Argentina wine in recent years.

Argentina is the world’s fifth largest wine producer. Besides Malbec, the country also produces other varieties including Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Bonarda.

Malbec has its own world day. Malbec World Day took place for the first time on April 17, 2011, with more than 72 events being held in 45 cities, across 36 countries. It is now celebrated annually on April 17 around the world.

Malbec is a great pair to red meats and hard cheese, yet the hearty and full-bodied wine with a smoky finish goes well with or without food.