08 Nov A brief history of Malbec and why we love it…
Malbec has been talked about quite a lot recently and it seemed only right to do our bit, especially as our IWC Red Winemaker of the Year Hervé Joyaux Fabre is highly regarded as a Malbec pioneer.
In fact, as part of his achievement, the IWC recognised that Hervé has been championing Malbec both in Argentina and on the global stage since the early 1990’s, helping position it as the number one choice for many red wine fans.
Historically Malbec originated in France, especially Cahors. However, many still associate the grape with Argentina, where its success as a single varietal was much more recent. Only 30 years ago it was still regarded just as a blending partner to better other varietals and give them more colour. Indeed, the amount of Malbec planted in Argentina dropped to only 10,000 hectares in 1990. A number of now-renowned international winemakers, including our very Hervé, recognised the potential of the old Malbec vineyards in the early nineties, and the Malbec renaissance was born. The popularity of Malbec has continued to grow and in 2017 there were over 41,000 hectares planted, which gives it a 36.37% share of Argentina’s planted red grape varieties. (Source: National Wine Institute).
The traditional Malbecs of Cahors are very different to those from Argentina. The Cahors style is much more deep, with a lot of finesse and terroir identity and they can also be very fruit driven and full of minerality. In Argentina the consistent warmth, the cool nights and long growing season allow the grape to ripen into an altogether different beast – fleshier, softer, with notes of jam, tar and leather and hints of bitter chocolate. At their best they can make true ‘vins de garde’ with the potential to age gracefully for 15-20 years.
In his exploration of Malbec in Argentina Hervé has identified a number of different terroirs in the Lujan de Cuyo and Valle de Uco regions which offer perfect growing conditions for this majestic grape variety.