Malbec wine has its day on the world stage

JUST as we’re all getting over the buzz of International Carrot Day – you missed it? – we’re heading headlong into World Malbec Day to celebrate malbec wine.

Wines of Argentina, which promotes the image of Argentine wines abroad, organises  the  day in tribute to the malbec grape, which  it has adopted as its own. April 17  is the  third World Malbec Day.

In truth, malbec wine is originally from Bordeaux (south east of Bordeaux, Cahors is famous for its  long-lasting ‘black wines’, a pronounced malbec blend).

So OK,  we don’t send each other cards on World Malbec Day, but it’s a good enough excuse to talk abut these deep plummy wines.

To get in the south American mood I didn’t dance any tangos, but I did make  chimichurri sauce as a spicy blanket for a grilled steak. Parsley, garlic, chillis, shallots, lemon. Oh, go Google it and enjoy the tingle  tipple  tastes.

 First up is Portillo Malbec 2011 (at Majestic, £9.99  –  buy two  bottles and save £6 until April 29, that’s   £6.99 each). This malbec wine was declared Best Argentinean Malbec under £10 in the Decanter 2012 awards. Judges described it as “pure and elegant”.

Portillo Malbec 2011 wine review
Portillo Malbec 2011

There’s plummy notes, cloaked in a supple, tempting layer of vanilla with blackpepper spices  playing palate ping pong.  I had put too much chilli in my sauce, but the Portillo embraced the combinations.

Tesco Finest Argentina Malbec 2012  (£6.99) had bilberries and beckoning blackberries on the nose and a floral lift, perhaps violets. It is still a young wine, not quite settled in itself.

 Like those old school discos with girls on one side of the room, boys on another, you just sense that with a little aging, interesting things might happen.

Fincas del Sur Malbec 2011 (£12.99 www.virginwines.co.uk) was not perturbed by my sauce-steak combo  but rejoiced in the flavour match.  Ripe tannins,  packed bunches of plums and a frizzling of malbec spice  bring an elegance to this Mendoza wine.

Finally, let’s pop over the border to Chile and  Viu Manent Secret Malbec 2010 (£11.99, www.oddbins.com). My first taste seemed familiar. Here in a glass was my sister’s fruitiest home-made blackurrant jam. A berry-fest with spice and soft, velvet,  fruits.

Also in my glass
I’ll  tempt you with a white if you don’t like reds. It’s only fair. Les Pierres Bordes Marsanne Viognier 2012 (£5.75, www.thewinesociety.com) is a blend of two grapes both familiar and important in the Rhone, but here in a wine from the Languedoc.  Six months spent on the lees  adds another layer  of interest over marsanne’s  fruity freshness  and the   luscious peach flavours from viognier.