How did Malbec go from its birthplace of Cahors to being the national red wine grape of Argentina? It started some 175 years ago.
Malbec arrived in Chile from France in 1840. It was brought to Argentina from Chile in 1850.
Its success is the combination of several factors starting with South America’s long tradition of winemaking, which dates to Mendoza’s founding in 1561. Prior to Malbec’s arrival, Chile and Argentina had been producing wine made from native grapes.
As Malbec was beginning to take root, it was helped along by a massive immigration from France, Spain and Italy in 1878. This brought better winemaking techniques and a culture of appreciating wine. Notable winemakers adopted Malbec early, and by 1890 Malbec had become an important grape in Mendoza.
More recently, the 1990s saw a revitalization and modernization of winemaking in Argentina and a growth of exports. Between 2000 and 2012 the number of hectares planted with Malbec vines doubled.
Today half of the exported bottled wine from Argentina is Malbec.
Whether it is Cahors Malbec or an Argentine Malbec in your glass, take a moment to enjoy the rich history in each sip.
A special thank you to Professor Pablo Lacoste from the University of Santiago in Chile for the facts and figures cited in this article.
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With an appreciation for tradition, winemakers in Cahors also seek to modernize Malbec for a new generation of wine lovers. Today the new trend is to produce a rosé of Malbec.
The past few years have seen a surge in the popularity of rosé wines in the United States, particularly rosé from France. Though it is still difficult to find Cahors rosé in US stores and restaurants, you’ll definitely want to look for it if you have the opportunity to travel to the region.
Malbec is an extremely versatile grape for rosé. The wine can span a variety of colors and styles – from salmon pink to bright magenta, light and fruity like the rosés of Provence to bursting with ripe red berries like a light bodied Gamay or Pinot Noir.
Your visit to the Cahors region is not complete without a day in Saint-Cirq Lapopie.
The commune perched on a cliff overlooking the Lot River is classified as one of the “Most Beautiful Villages in France” (Les Plus Beaux Villages de France). In 2012 the French voted it their favorite village in the country.
Take time to stroll along the cobblestone streets and visit the boutiques. There are plenty of cafés and restaurants to enjoy a drink or bite to eat. Climb the steps near the church for magnificent views of the rooftops and river.