|Photo: L C Nottaasen|
I can't believe a whole year has rolled around since Jo did a World Malbec Day post last April! In it, she celebrated fun facts about the malbec grape, explained why it's so popular and recommended both a classic Argentine brand (Trivento = <3 ) and a French option, seeing as the grape itself originated in southern France.
As one of the UK's most loved and most-bought grape varieties, you could almost argue we don't need a day to celebrate Malbec World Day, but that's a bit like refusing to celebrate Mother's Day, so I'm jumping on board. Any excuse for a glass of malbec is fine with me...
You've probably seen about 100 wine articles celebrating Argentina's many marvellous malbecs over the last week or so, so I'm not going to do that.
Instead, I'm going to put the WORLD in Malbec World Day!
I'm recommending my all-time favourite Argentine Malbec producer, and then I'm going to branch out and explore how malbec is spreading all over the world, with tasty malbecs reaching us from Chile, Australia, South Africa, the USA and even Romania!
Here's where you can sample malbecs from Argentina... and beyond.
Catena Malbec, £12.99 at Waitrose
Undoubtedly one of the (and in my opinion... THE) greatest wine producers in Argentina, Catena has won all the awards going, including Nicolas Catena being the first South American man to win Decanter's prestigious Man of the Year Award in 2009.
Their winemaker Alejandro Vigil is an absolute legend of a bloke, a true, eccentric genius, who once confessed to me that he'd got so tipsy when tasting wines with some of the local Catena fans that he went a got a tattoo of the word 'malbec' on his arm.
They have some wonderful vineyards in amazing locations, and drinking a Catena malbec is a bit like having a masterclass in the grape.
Get yourself started with this Catena Malbec at Waitrose - full of soft, plummy richness that lasts and lasts - but if you fancy splashing out then grab some of their more premium bottles. You won't be disappointed.
Nelson Malbec, £10 per bottle, Marks and Spencer
Nelson is one of the country's sunniest areas, making it a perfect spot to experiment with the sun-loving Malbec grape. This is a surprising take on a malbec though - although you do get the rich, dark fruits and a hint of pepperiness, this is only 12.5% and so is a much lighter, juicier version than you might expect. Perfect with duck.
3. USA: Jacktone Ranch Limited Release Malbec, £12 per bottle at Tesco Wines
Look, I'm not sure this is worth £12, but it is frequently on offer at around half that price and that's when to snap it up. Although, if you're a real malbec geek, perhaps it is worthy of a punt just to try a malbec from the USA? You don't see many of them about.
This is a Californian malbec - at 13% it's still a bit lighter than you'd expect, but is a smooth, rounded, drinkable red wine which is a great match for barbecued ribs.
Vignobles Roussellet Malbec, £4.39 at Aldi
Aldi does it again, coming up with a delicious mid-week bottle of wine at a frankly ridiculously good price. This isn't anywhere near the rustic class of a Cahors (if you want one of those, see number ) but it's got a lovely, juicy blueberry and damson character. Great with a simple stew or sausage dish.
5. CHILE: Con Amigos Malbec, currently £6.66 (usually £9.99) at Majestic
Although it's not far (relatively speaking) from the more established Argentina, this Chilean malbec has more in common with a southern French example. More juicy berries and perfume, but this time the wine has a full-bodied mouthfeel and tannins that would pair well with some char-grilled red meat.
6. ROMANIA: Malbec 'Winemaker's Selection' Chateau Vartely, Moldova, £8.99 at Adnams Wine Cellar
This was the wine I was most excited about discovering. Hooray for Romania! For under a tenner, this is excellent value, with robust body and tannins like its Argentine cousin, and plenty of spice from its 12 months ageing in oak barrels. A real wine geek's wine.
Of course (as Jo mentioned last year), malbec originated in France, and here it is still often known as 'cot' or 'auxerrois'.
This is an absolute cracker of an example from The Wine Society - as an unoaked wine, it really lets the mouthwatering fruit shine through, and is a perfect match for southern French cuisine like cassoulet or confit duck, as well as being a tasty pairing with soft cheeses.
8. SOUTH AFRICA: Tesco Finest South African Malbec, currently £5.99 (usually £7.99)
Aside from Argentina and Cahors, South African malbec is the next most commonly available malbec in the UK, but I had to highlight this one because of the excellent value for money in this offer!
For under £6, this has bags of intensity and charming complexity, and is a rich, dark, cherry and plum-filled wine with plenty of spice. Definitely pick up a bottle to see what South Africa can achieve with the malbec grape.
Cuvee George de Puygueraud, Cotes de Francs, 2007, £16 per bottle at The Wine Society
A quick hop back to The Wine Society for a pleasingly rare find. Malbec used to feature a lot more in Bordeaux, but these days it's not very widely used at all, and where it is grown it tends to be only about 5% of the blend.
This Cotes de Francs wine, made by the brilliant Georges Thienpont, has a whopping 45% malbec, with 35% cabernet franc and 20% merlot. Well worth snapping up while you can - it's been ageing nicely for 8 years, and will be best to drink in the next two.
10. AUSTRALIA: Wolf Blass Yellow Label Malbec, currently £6.47 (usually £9.98) at ASDA
Okay, so we don't normally mention brands as big as this, but at this price this is well worth grabbing to get a chance to try an Aussie malbec, as you don't see many of them in the UK at the moment. It might not be the best example ever (I've tried good ones that have been blended with cabernet sauvignon - look out for them) but it's an earthy, wintry red with rounded spice and a pleasing tang.
Happy Malbec World Day everyone! Join in the fun on the Malbec World Day Twitter page.