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The Malbec grape
Malbec is a big purple bruiser of a grape, known for making robust, hearty full-bodied red wines. It’s one of the six varieties allowed in red Bordeaux wine, and it is also the staple of Cahors wine in South West France. Whilst being in the doldrums for many years, it is recently enjoying renewed fashion either on its own or blended with Tannat and Merlot in both regions. But it is in Argentina,and especially the Mendoza region where Malbec arguably finds its finest expression. Look for hugely powerful fruity wines from mid-ranking producers and somewhat more restrained but still powerful brooding and complex, earthy Malbecs from the top producers.
Both styles of Malbec are well suited to the mounds of rare steak which, whilst perhaps a cliché, form the centrepiece of a South American dinner. If you buy a case of Malbec, try storing a few of them for a bit longer, to see how they develop – you could be in for a treat.