I’ve been watching malbec disappear from shelves for years now. It seems to be a wine trend with no end in sight. And for a while there was no question as to why that was. The wines were rich, textured, complex even…and cheap. Finding a good “everyday” malbec in the $10 range was almost easy. I’m sure you can tell where I’m going with this, but in the last couple years this has changed. Now, malbec after malbec I taste is just meh. Boring, bland, typical. Sometimes even in the high price range! This is a product of demand of course. The demand has been so high, that the pressure to produce more malbec at low prices has created a quality sink. Wine is not a widget. You can’t just go to the factory and tell the machine to produce more malbec. If you want more malbec, you have to plant vines and then you have to wait. Vines take years to produce grapes that produce good wine. If you don’t wait those years, you’ll make bad wine. When demand is this high, vineyards are planted in places that they shouldn’t be…existing vineyards are grown for quantity over quality…fruit is sourced from one end of Argentina to the other (based on price, not quality)….you get the idea. You end up with wines that lack substance, soul, sense of place.
The upside to all this is that when I do come across a producer that is doing it right, they stick out like a beacon. Christian Allamand’s malbec did just that. It helps that the three single vineyards it’s sourced from come from the Uco Valley in Mendoza. The terroir here is distinct and great for malbec. Altitudes are high so the temperature shift from day to night are drastic. This ensures very ripe fruit due to the amount of sun it gets during the day, but preserves acidity due to it being cool at night. Irrigation comes from the cold run off of the Andes, soils are well draining and non-nutritive, meaning the vines have to struggle, focusing all their energy on a small amount of fruit. Christian farms organically now, uses native yeasts and a very tiny amount of oak. The result is a pure malbec, deep purple in the glass with a pretty nose (violets). Elegant and powerful all at the same time. The best part is that Christian is practically giving the stuff away at $14.99/bottle.
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