Happy Malbec World Day! It's April 17th, meaning you can crack a bottle of malbec and have a reason for it... like any of us needed an excuse anyway!
Some fast facts about malbec:
It's pronounced mahl-bek
It is also known as Côt and Auxxerois
The grape originated in south west France, in Bordeaux & surrounding regions, but it was used as a blending grape, playing second fiddle to merlot, grenache & cab sav
It has since become a flagship grape of Argentina, where it has been refined as a single varietal wine style
French malbec tends to be softer and more mellow, whereas Argentinian styles are bolder and more fruit forward
Malbec first arrived in Australian from Bordeaux in 1844, thanks to key founders of the Australian wine community, the Macarthurs
It was first planted in Australia in the 19th century, with iconic estate Bleasdale having their first ever single varietal wine (which was a malbec) in 1961
You can cellar it for up to 10 years
It loves a moderate climate (like Langhorne Creek or Clare Valley in Aus)
It's similar in weight to shiraz, petite verdot & cab sav
It is characterised by BIG, robust flavours, firm tannins, a distinctive purple colour and flavours of plum, blueberry and vanilla
Today, 75% of the world's malbec comes from Argentina!
So... now we're all experts in malbec, let me share with you what I chose to open in celebration of Malbec World Day.
Now, it might be a controversial choice, but I went with a 2019 from the infamous 19 Crimes label.
I was lucky enough to be invited to talk in the weekly #girlswinechat on the Girls Wine Club Instagram Live, which happened this week on Wednesday 14th (check out the whole thing here if you missed it). It was a great chat, with some fabulous women in wine from all over the world discussing malbec from different countries, what makes it unique, and why we love it (or don't!).
I've never been a huge malbec fan, but that has nothing really to do with the wine itself. I just haven't been exposed to it a whole lot, and it's never been something I'd choose to buy for myself. It was great to get to talk to some women who really love this grape, and understand a bit more about what makes it special.
For my contribution, I brought the 2019 malbec from 19 Crimes. I put my decision to a vote on my Instagram stories, and majority of people voted for the other one... BUT I like to live dangerously! Some people even went out of their way to message me directly and say that other wines they'd had from 19 Crimes weren't great. This did not deter me, however. In fact, it gave me even more FOMO knowing that I might be missing out on a bad wine! And in the end it turned out well, because we were able to balance this entry level malbec with some fine examples from the other girls in the chat.
Why did I choose this wine? I'd been wanting to try a 19 Crimes wine for a while, and this seemed like a good opportunity (and at $13.99 a pop, there wasn't much stopping me). I like the concept behind the label - each bottle having its own story. The labels depict real life convicts who were sent to Australia for committing one of 19 crimes, some of which were reasonable (stealing, setting fire to things) and some of which were absolutely ludicrous - like impersonating an Egyptian!
See the full list of the 19 punishable crimes here.
I couldn't find a huge amount about this wine online - it seems to be absent from the 19 Crimes wine list on their website. But the bottle says Argentina, so my understanding is the grapes/juice come from Argentina, and it was made here in Australia. The brand is owned by huge umbrella company Treasury Wine. The back label on the bottle says nothing about who made it, how it was made or what it tastes like.
So... do you want to know what I really thought?
Look, I didn't hate it. But would I buy it again? Probably not.
It's a great entry-level red. It would be ideal to take to a party to plonk on the drinks table, because somebody there would undoubtedly enjoy it. For someone who is new to wine, or doesn’t know too much about wine, it would be a perfectly adequate drop. At first it was very meaty on the nose, which I don’t particularly like in my wines. But it opened up in the glass and eventually fruit flavours of plum and blueberry came through. It’s quite tannic, so have a glass of water handy.
Food match: I reckon this would be ideal paired with an Aussie beef or mushroom burger with the lot – we’re talking beetroot, pineapple, an egg, lettuce, onion, sauce… you get the idea.
Music match: How could I say anything but AD/DC?? Classic Aussie BBQ tunes.
Occasion match: Sunshine, a backyard BBQ, lawn games and good mates would elevate this wine for sure.
Know of any good malbecs I should try? Let me know! I'm always keen to try new wines, especially if they're varietals I'm not too familiar with.
Connect with 19 Crimes online (if you dare!):
Feel free to share this with your fellow wine lovers! Link below.