World Malbec Day Celebrates Argentina’s Flagship Red Wine

Leanne and I had a great time chatting about Malbec on CTV.

Did you know that April 17 is Malbec World Day (#MalbecWorldDay), celebrating the flagship red grape for the wines of Argentina, as well as a blending grape in Bordeaux and other regions?

You’ll find my most reviews and ratings of Malbec Wines here. The Malbec grape produces wines that stylistically fall between Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, with more plummy richness and roundness than Cabernet, but firmer tannins and structure than Merlot.

Pair Malbec with beef, turkey, spicy dishes, tomato sauces, meaty casseroles, hamburgers, sausages, steak and kidney pie, cheddar, Adobo de Cerdo (spicy pork chop), game, lamb, spaghetti and meat balls, veal cutlets, osso buco and bittersweet chocolate.

The traditional Argentine barbecue, called an asado, is perfect for Malbec.


Also check out writer Vanda Jackson’s new book:

Malbec: A Tumultuous Journey from Woe to Wow

You can also watch our other wine video.


More Malbec Notes:

  • April 17 is Malbec World Day as it marks the day in 1853 when then Argentine president Domingo Faustino Sarmiento asked Michel Pouget, a French agricultural engineer, to bring over new vines from Europe to transform Argentina’s wine industry. Malbec was among the cuttings.
  • At that time, Malbec was most widely planted in France and was used as a blending grape in Bordeaux, especially in the regions of St. Emilion and Graves.
  • However, after the phylloxera root louse devastated French vineyards in the late 1800s, and then a killing frost wiped out 75% of vines in the 1950s, Bordeaux did not replant Malbec vines as extensively as did the Cahors region in the southwestern France where it is still the mostly widely planted grape and is called ‘Côt’ and Auxerrois in other regions of France. Malbec thrives in the warm region of Cahors, which makes a tannic, deeply colored, palate-whacking “black wine.”
  • Malbec had been one of the most planted grapes in Bordeaux whereas today, it’s less than ten percent of vineyards there.
  • Today 80% of Malbec vines in the world are planted in Argentina, 10% in France.
  • In Argentina, 70% of Malbec vines are planted in Mendoza, the central part of the country, along the Andes mountains that separates the country from Chile.
  • Styles of Malbec vary according to where it’s planted from north to south in the country, the south being their colder region because they’re in the southern hemisphere. That’s also why their harvest is in April and May.
  • Altitude also affects Malbec style, especially since most of the vines are planted 1,000 kilometres away from the ocean. Vines in Mendoza are planted between 800 and 1,500 metres above sea level, whereas those in Salta in the northen province where it’s warmest are planted at an altitude up to 3000 metres above sea level in Salta. Diurnal changes in temperature from day to night can change by up to 15 degrees Celcius.
  • There are actually more than 400 names for the grape, but Malbec was originally named after the Hungarian peasant who first planted the vine in southwest France several centuries ago.
  • Malbec is one of the five grapes in Bordeaux wines, especially in the districts of St. Emilion and Graves, though it is usually a minor part of the blend to add a deep, darker colour and rich black fruit aromas.
  • A thin-skinned, mid-season ripener, Malbec is sensitive to frost. Most other regions that grow Malbec also use it as a minor blending grape except for the wines of Argentina, where it stands alone as the country’s flagship red.
  • Sometimes called Fer, Argentinan Malbecs are richer, rounder and fruitier than the European versions. Malbec thrives in Argentina because it gets the necessary hang time on the vine to ripen those lush plum flavors.
  • Unripe Malbec is green and stemmy. Although Bordeaux blends can age for decades, Malbec alone or as the dominant part of a blend is best enjoyed young.
  • Blending Malbec and Cabernet grapes is still traditional: Latin passion and French elegance.
  • Signature aromas of Malbec include plums, blackberries, black cherries, spices, earth and wood smoke.
  • Malbec is sensitive to frost so it loves Argentina’s climate where it can hang on the vines and ripen slowly without that risk.
  • Today Argentina is the fifth largest wine exporting country, and most of it is Malbec.




Last night, we chatted about Malbec World Day and food pairings.

Tune in here for our next Facebook Live Video Wine Tasting:

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You’ll find upcoming and past Live Tasting Videos here.





If you’d like to read 46 comments for this tasting, or make a comment yourself, visit:

Here’s a sampling of lively discussion from our tasting…

 Natalie MacLean · 12:21 Here are the wines we’re tasting tonight:…/malbec-red-wine…/See More

Lise Charest Gagne · 8:39 I like the mix. Try out the half and half and we can provide feedback.. happy Easter 🐰
Lise Charest Gagne · 8:39 Organic wines yes!! I’m a bit of a tree hugger! And I love Pinot Noir!!!!!
Paul E Hollander · 4:46 Good evening and Happy Easter. The family has just left and Patti and I are sitting back resting. The wine: Luminis Lujan de Cuyo, 2013 Malbec
 Lise Charest Gagne · 8:39 I tried a lovely dark chocolate at Soma it had dried strawberries and pink peppercorns I bet it would be good with that wine
Samuel Quartier · 7:00 Nothing in my glass yet (working on it!). I usually really enjoy the Salentein Reserve Malbec, and Clos De La Siete is always very good and consistent.


Alan Cameron · 16:30 Sorry to have missed the live show, but the idea of Nova Scotian you and your Mom drinking that wine makes you Malbec Hoisters ( a pun on Malpec Oysters, which apparently doesn’t have a good Malbec pairing). Fun Show !
 Lise Charest Gagne · 8:39 What about some other wine writers? Chefs, restaurants, grape growers, travel industry?


Lise Charest Gagne · 8:39 Malbec is lovely but too bold for me without food. I also find it stains the teeth allot
Paul E Hollander · 29:07 We have an Allamand Valle de Uco, 2012 Malbec. The other Luminis, they are from Bodega.


Paul E Hollander · 17:35 Mario is on the Food Network and on the daily show “The Chew” (ABC-US)


Samuel Quartier · 7:33 And I have a soft spot for the great French Malbecs from Cahors ;-)


Helena Lundgren · 0:00 What about head of viticulture education (like cal poly and us David in CA) what’s new? How is it expanding ? The growing wine business and opportunities?


Lise Charest Gagne · 8:39 Do they tend to blend Malbec and if so with what
Lise Charest Gagne · 8:39 Natalie tell me about your most memorable Malbec experience


Paul E Hollander · 10:30 We have had their wine,s alway good.
Lise Charest Gagne · 8:39 Great BBQ wines? Malbec
Lise Charest Gagne · 8:39 Is it fruity Nat?
Lise Charest Gagne · 8:39 Big big wine


Lise Charest Gagne · 8:39 Chicken mole


Stephen Andrews · 12:17 Yes chateau de pay from Cahors.
Bill DeLury · 7:43 Hi Bill from ny. Having a glass of SAN Lucas Malbec 2015.


Malbec Day logo and vine




Join me this Sunday, April 16 at 6 pm eastern for a Malbec Wine Tasting:

P.S. Click on the “Follow” and “Like” buttons on this page to get notified when we go live.

You’ll find upcoming and past Live Tasting Videos here.









Trapiche Pure Black Malbec
Mendoza, Argentina









Trapiche Broquel Malbec
Mendoza, Argentina









El Esteco Don David Reserve Malbec
Cafayate Valley, Argentina










Luigi Bosca Single Vineyard Malbec
Luján de Cuyo, Argentina










Trapiche Pure Malbec
Mendoza, Argentina











Trapiche Perfiles Calcareous Malbec
Mendoza, Argentina










Trapiche Gran Medalla Malbec 2013
Mendoza, Argentina









Trapiche Reserve Malbec
Mendoza, Argentina










Trapiche Pure Malbec 2016
Mendoza, Argentina










Luigi Bosca Malbec
Mendoza, Argentina









Alamos Malbec
Mendoza, Argentina










Alamos Selección Malbec
Uco Valley, Argentina










Versado Reserva Ancient Malbec
Mendoza, Argentina









Château Teyssier
Montagne Saint-Émilion, Bordeaux A.C., France







Well, Leanne Cusack and her guest are raising a glass to two grapes today, Leanne.

We should say. Now Natalie MacLean has brought along a number of bottles, all of Malbec. This is a tutorial. If you’ve ever wanted to take a little bit of a wine course, Natalie does teach them online, but she’s teaching you in the next six minutes everything you should know about this grape.

And the homework is fun when it comes to teaching wine, let me tell you.

But yes…

Natalie, we’re starting with the history.

Absolutely, so April 17th is world Malbec day.

Who knew?

Yes, a grape has a day, I love that. So what’s fascinating about the history of Malbec is that it used to be one of the most widely planted grapes of Bordeaux, in France. Actually, the south of France and Bordeaux, but after phylloxera, which was a nasty little vine rot, destroyed the vineyards, and then a killing frost, it really wasn’t replanted as widely as it had been before those tragedies, I guess, in the wine world. And, okay, we’ll do an adjustment here. And so today it’s one of the five blending grapes of Bordeaux. So it’s only a splash in most of the bottles, like this one here from Saint Emilion.

So it’s still an all-star, but used as a blend…


…in Bordeaux, okay.

So the shift, then, happened with Argentina. And the reason why April 17th is Malbec day, is that back in 1863, the president of Argentina asked a French wine expert to bring back vine cuttings from France to transform Argentina’s wine industry. Up ’til then, it had been pretty, you know, like fortified wines, oaky kind of, not great stuff. So among those vine cuttings was Malbec, and today Argentina is responsible for 80% of the vines in the world, worldwide plantings. So it went from France, and it totally switched to Argentina.

So it went from failing in France to flourishing in Argentina, and if you’ve ever been in the Argentinian wine section, you will notice how many Malbecs there are.

Malbecs, it’s the flagship grape. And 70% of the Malbec is from Mendoza. So Argentina and Chile kind of go down the spine of the Andes, right? And Argentina, midway down on the map, is Mendoza, and it has the warmth, you know, to ripen Malbec. You know, it’s a much warmer climate than Bordeaux, but also you get lots of style differences because the vines are planted at different altitudes. So a lot of them are mountainous, and 800 to 1500 feet, or meters above sea level.

See, when you’re talking about wine, you are, you’re talking about history. You’re talking geography, you’re talking flavour.

Exactly, exactly. And so we know that Argentina, you say at the end, almost all of the wines on the table are under $20.

They are.

But for this.

Exactly, right. There’s a special splurge bottle for the weekend at the end. But what’s really nice about Malbec, is stylistically, it’s somewhere between Cabernet and Merlot. So it’s got more structure than Merlot, but it’s got more plummier, juicy blackberry flavors and smoke than, say, a Cabernet.

And a really rich color.


Sort of a magenta tinge.

Exactly. So in the south of France, it’s called côte, you know, where they’re known as almost black, inky wines. And some say Malbec, does it come from mal bouche, the French meaning not so much bad wine, but just dark, black, rustic wine? But today’s versions, like the ones we have here from Argentina, they’re very refined, they’re plummy, they’re juicy, they’re smooth, very food friendly, like, think grilled meats, or the traditional barbecue in Argentina is called an asado, so that’s prime for us with barbecue season.

And that’s exactly what Natalie’s always thinking of you, she’s planning for you, and she thinks if you’re firing up the grill, maybe not this weekend, cause it sounds pretty bad, but we’re hardy. We can barbecue.

We’re doing a spring barbecue.

So describe the wines, and the wines will be on Natalie’s website, we have a link on our website. So start with the French wine.

The French, you know, so this is from Saint Emilion in Bordeaux. It’s mostly Merlot, Cabernet, with just a splash of Malbec, but then we get into Argentina, and I’ve got a couple of double labels here. So from the Alamos winery, you’ve got just $15.95 and $19.95. So it’s the sort of premium.

So this is the $15.95, this is the $19.95.

Exactly, so great value.

And you say that you would bring either to a dinner party.

I would, and you know, because Argentina, although it’s been making wine since the late 1800s, it’s drank most of what it consumed, so we consider it a new world country. It’s still trying to make its mark in North American markets, so the value is that, the price and the value.

And don’t hesitate in giving it a try, especially on world Malbec day!

Yes. So this wine, you have brought along, I think a couple of Christmases ago, you actually suggested this as a bit of a newcomer. So this is the

Trapiche, yeah.

More affordable, yes, I was hoping you would pronounce it,Trapiche, okay. And tell what should we know about this?

Well, again, it’s got, you know, a nice entry level price around $14, $15, and then you go up a little bit with the reserve label, but again, these are just so plummy and rich, I just think if you’re having a party and you didn’t know what to serve, you didn’t want to go Merlot because maybe you think Merlot is too juicy, too smooth, not Cabernet, you would hit the middle right with Malbec, so.

And especially now that everyone’s going to know that much more about Malbec, you can chat it all up at the table.


But would the average person be able to differentiate between the few dollars of this one to the reserve?

It might be hard to tell, but there’s nothing more illuminating than trying two wines side by side. So when I get to a restaurant, this is sort of a quick tip to learn wine, instead of ordering a bottle, if you’re with somebody, try ordering by the glass, and the more similar the better, and side by side, you will start to see and taste and smell the differences. It’s only when you do that comparison that you start to say “Hey, this one is different “from that one.”

And you notice as they say, the notes. Or the richness or the…

Yes, exactly.

Now this, we have about 30 seconds left, we wanted to get to these two.

Sure, another great bottling from Luigi Bosca, and the Versado at the end is your splurge bottle. It’s about $60, but it has a Canadian connection. So the brilliant wine maker, Anne Sperling from Ontario, under the Southbrook label, she and her husband also make this wine in Argentina. They consult for Benjamin Bridge in Nova Scotia.


Yay, that’s our connection. And then out in BC, she’s got Sperling Family Vineyards. She’s a dynamo. She’s around the world, and she’s bringing Malbec to Canada.

You’ve done a lot in this segment.

Yes, well…

When we’re back, if you think oh, but I don’t really like red wine, it’s too heavy for me, I’m more of a Sauv Blanc gal…

Yup, we’ve got a wine for you.

We have that coming up.

Got a white wine guy right here. When we come back.





Printed with permission from CTV.






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