Malbec: The Grape Variety That Turned Me into an Oenophile

I had always been a bit partial to wine over other alcoholic beverages. But it was the grape variety of Malbec that transformed me into an oenophile. Although Malbec is a French grape (from Bordeaux), it wasn’t in France where this transformation to ‘wine butterfly’ occurred.

It was in Argentina.

In the South American wine-making nation that is strongly influenced by European culture, Malbec flourishes and makes a full-bodied, juicy, inky-coloured red wine that has a fruity character.

Tasting room of Achaval Ferrer, Mendoza, Argentina
Tasting room of Achaval Ferrer, Mendoza, Argentina

In Mendoza, one of Argentina’s key wine regions, I remember smelling (and tasting) my first Malbec. The dark berry fruits and spicy notes delighted my senses almost as much as the sight of the snow-capped Andes to the west. (And the scenery in the region of Mendoza is among the most spectacular wine country I’ve seen rivalled only by South Africa’s Stellenbosch and Franschhoek.)

Malbec is Argentina’s darling, and is now the most-planted grape variety in Argentina. It is used mostly to make single-variety wine, but is also blended with international varieties, such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

Malbecs from lower altitude vineyards tend to be more full-bodied and have greater black-fruit character. Those from higher altitude vineyards tend to be more elegant and fresh. So, there is a Malbec for everyone. Argentinians like to drink Malbec with barbecued red meats; but Malbec is also great with a cheese plate or rustic pizza with black olives.

Tango show in Buenos Aires, Argentina
Tango show in Buenos Aires, Argentina

I first fell in love with the Malbec wines from renowned Achaval Ferrer, since I was there and charmed by everything about the winery: the stylish tasting room, the architecture, the smell of oak, the view out to the Andes.

Mendoza and Malbec, in combination, are captivating. The wide open plains complement your tasting of Malbec and spin you into a never-ending tango dance, a love affair with their wines that keeps Argentina like a thumping rhythm of passion in your soul forever.

Links (correct at time of posting):

Achaval Ferrer:

Wines of Argentina:

Cover photo: Vines of Achaval Ferrer looking out to the Andes

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More about Christina

I am a psychology scholar interested in what makes life both pleasurable and meaningful. I suppose I am an epicurean in the sense that I like good food and wine; but, like the philosopher Epicurus, who actually advocated for tranquility, my international wine and food adventures are more about finding peace than anything else. They are about connecting with others, connecting with the earth, and practising self-compassion. My favourite grape variety is Nebbiolo, I love the way poetry expresses our common humanity, and I believe it's possible to find love in each micro-moment of life. So perhaps it was inevitable I would create this site called Falling in Wine.

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