What We’re Drinking – Argentinian Malbec

llama_malbec_brand_smLong ago, my Aussie friend, Justine shared her wine buying philosophy – never buy a wine with an animal on the label. Ever.

I took her seriously because when we had this discussion, we were sipping Veuve Clicquot. (Just so you know, Justine, I did not buy this wine, but I did enjoy the heck out of it despite the animal on the label.)

Llama is the name and the animal on the label of Belasco de Baquedano Winery’s Malbec.  Nestled in the foothills of the Andes, this dark colored wine is from 100 year old vines. Its extracted color stained my glass, and that’s impressive. The intriguing aromas of black cherries and minerals had intense juicy cherry and blackberry flavors set off to perfection by the balancing acidity with a lush, smooth texture and hint of licorice on the finish.

Practically all of the world’s Malbec is grown in Argentina. Successful Argentine growers know this French varietal produces inexpensive, delicious Malbecs from the higher elevation vineyards.

Malbec used to be the favored Bordeaux blending grape but not so much anymore. France has less than 15,000 acres now with the bulk of those vineyards in the Sud Ouest – a ways from its roots in Bordeaux. Higher elevation than Bordeaux but nothing compared to Argentina’s high elevations.

There is also a smattering of Malbec in Washington and California but if you total up the world’s Malbec vineyards, Argentina dominates. Malbec just plain loves the climate Mother Nature bestows on the Mendoza Valley. But Mendoza is vast, and that means different climates in the huge area can produce different flavors and aromas to the same grape variety. Some may have the dark fruit notes while a hundred miles away, more minerals and subdued fruit just like its cousin in Bordeaux.

This fine wine sells for around $10 and worth every penny.