WINE SCHOOL 27 October 2014 - 2 November 2014

REGION: Argentina > Mendoza

More wine is made in Mendoza than in all of Argentina's other wine regions. The high altitude contributes to a large diurnal temperature range - warm days and cool nights - which many winemakers believe results in more concentrated wines (although the contradictory assertion that a small diurnal temperature range enhances wine quality is also often put forward by producers in such regions).

Key red grapes: Malbec, Bonarda, Cabernet Sauvignon
Key white grapes: Chardonnay, Torrontes


GRAPE: Malbec

Native to France, Malbec was once a key Bordeaux grape before being usurped by Merlot. It retains a Gallic stronghold in Cahors (where it is required to make up at least 70% of any wine labelled as such) but is now best known for being the grape so lovingly embraced by Argentina.

Younger, simpler Malbec wines possess a certain rustic charm, with boisterous blackberries and plums backed by a rasp of tannin and a whiff of earth. Moderate to high tannins supported by moderate acidity bestow an age-worthy structure. More mature and polished Malbec's may add mulberry, violet, leather, coffee and tobacco to the mix.

Malbec's popularity is spreading to Chile where it now often appears as an extra in traditional Bordeaux blends. Exciting year-on-year improvements in the quality of wines coming out of South American suggests that Malbec's full potential is yet to be realised.

SYNONYMS: Auxerrois (France: Cahors) [N.B. In Alsace Auxerrois is the name of a white grape variety], Côt / Cot (France)

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Next week in WINE SCHOOL: Médoc (France) & Cabernet Sauvignon

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