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The purple Malbec variety grapes which now grow all over the Old and New Worlds had their origins in France, where they are one of the few grape varieties allowed to be used in the highly esteemed blended wines of Bordeaux. However, it is perhaps the New World Malbec wines which have attracted the most attention in recent years, as they thrive in hot southern climates in ways they cannot in their native country, where the damp conditions leave them highly vulnerable to rot. Malbec grapes are renowned for their high tannin content, resulting in full-bodied red wines packed with ripe, plummy flavors and held in their characteristically dark, garnet colored liquid. In many countries, Malbec is still used primarily as a varietal for blending, as it adds a great level of richness and density to other, lighter and thinner varietals. However, single variety Malbec wines have been greatly on the rise in recent years, with some fantastic results and big, juicy flavors marking them out as a great wine for matching with a wide range of foods.
When it comes to Argentinian wines, one region stands head and shoulders above the rest. The high altitude wine region of Mendoza has been producing high quality wines for some time now, and has established itself as one of the premier homes of New World viticulture, thanks to its combination of bold, Latin American approaches to winemaking coupled with a European flair for excellence and finesse.
Today, the Mendoza accounts for almost two-thirds of the Argentinian wine output, making it a dominating force in the country’s industry, and wines from Mendoza are exported all over the world. Its success comes from several factors - not least for the fact that it is one of the oldest and most well established New World wine regions, having been planted in the mid 19th century and allowed to develop from heritage vines of the finest European specimens. The altitude is certainly a key factor when it comes to Mendoza. The average elevation of vineyards in this region is 1000 metres above sea level, a factor which creates almost unparalleled consistency in climatic conditions, allowing the vintners to regulate their growing and harvesting for optimum effect.
Mendoza is primarily a Malbec producer, although Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo and Chardonnay varietal grapes are also grown here to great effect. The Malbec grapes of Argentina tend to have a higher level of expression and flavor than those in its native France, because Mendoza Malbec grows in smaller bunches, with smaller, more intensely charactered berries.