Malbec’s more than decade-long meteoric rise to prominence north of the Rio Grande has secured it a place at dinner tables and around barbecue pits all across America. Invariably, Malbec offers a deeply colored mouthful of wine that complements a wide variety of foods that Americans enjoy: steaks, burgers, pork barbecue, pizza, and a host of everyday, stick to your ribs fare. However, Malbec’s star has not always burned so brightly. For years, much of the Malbec on store shelves in this country were simply blah or at best one trick ponies, with only a handful of notable exceptions. It is not because Malbec makes inherently inferior wine (nothing could be further from the truth), but because for too long there were so few really good Malbecs in North America to choose from. With the exception of Catena, Alta Vista, Achaval-Ferrer, and a handful of other notable producers, most Malbecs in this country in decades past were one dimensional wines that provided the grape variety’s deep hue and jolt, but little else. Thankfully, all that has changed. Today, we in North America have many excellent Malbec wines to choose from and one need not have an expense account to enjoy them.
Although Malbec’s origin is southwest France, including Bordeaux, where it still plays an important supporting role alongside Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot, Argentina has come to fore as the contemporary champion and spiritual home of Malbec. A continuous stream of excellent Malbecs now flow north from Argentina to grace North American tables. And I am happy to report that many of my favorite Argentinean Malbecs are now readily available in the U.S. Almarada, a new venture from Malbec specialist Antonio Mas, offers a tasty, crowd-pleasing Malbec from the famed Uco Valley at a very reasonable price. Graffito, La Posta, Luca, Mendel, and Tikal are even more consummate Malbec producers that consistently fashion excellent, affordable Malbecs at the level of Achaval Ferrer, Catena and Alta Vista. With that said, one should also not overlook the top Malbec wines from France’s Cahors appellation where Château Armandière and Domaines Georges Vigouroux are fashioning traditional, world-class Malbecs. So why not fire up the grill, call friends over for a barbecue, and pour a glass of a truly good Malbec?