In just the last 15 years, Malbec has gone from being a niche grape that was largely unheard of, to now being one of Ireland’s favourite grape varietals.
And while Malbec’s home region may be Southwest France, the credit for this recent success sits squarely with Argentina, with the World’s largest planting, and its own distinctive style Argentina is undoubtedly now its spiritual home.
The wines produced here are stylistically a long way removed from the Rustic examples that Southwest France was once known for.
Thanks to the unique location of Argentina’s most important Malbec growing zone (Mendoza) in the foothills of the Andes, Winemakers here have typically been able to produce dark fruited wines which are rich and full in style, yet which also manage to retain a soft, silky texture.
Thankfully this revolution hasn’t gone un-noticed though back in Europe where many winemakers are now starting to produce Malbec following this approachable fruit-forward template.
I have picked out some of my favourite Malbec’s below, two from Argentina, and one from a more surprising location.
Our first Argentine is from the leading winery Norton and is made with grapes exclusively grown in Luján de Cuyo, which is recognised as one of the most remarkable regions for wine production in Argentina, Norton Malbec D.O.C. (€14.95 down from €18.95) is as classic as it comes, with blackberry fruits, plum, a sprinkle of pepper, soft tannins and a velvety smooth palate.
My next choice, Amancaya (€16.95 down from €20.95) is a Malbec/Cabernet blend from top estate Bodegas Caro, as hedonistic and full of chocolatey richness as they come. This is a joint venture between Domaines Barons de Rothschild Lafite and Nicolas Catena. The winemaking is overseen by DBR's technical team. Rich, full flavoured; gorgeous ripe, blackberry and plum fruit. Silky smooth this is a superb Malbec.
To finish, I have gone with a wine from Spain, which the winemaker assures us is the only one produced in the whole country. From high-altitude vineyards in central Spain, Ocho y Medio Malbec (€9.95 down from €12.95) remains un-oaked, allowing the ripe black-berried & dark plum fruit to shine, of course Malbec isn't a grape usually associated with Spain, but this shows it thrives with that dark fruit and juicy acidity. And you don’t have just take my word for it, as the Ocho Malbec will be open on the tasting table in your local O’Briens store this weekend.
*Please note, prices are correct at time of publishing, please check our website or stores for the most up to date pricing.