What to drink this week

Ar­gen­tine Mal­bec re­vis­ited

Country Life Every Week - - TOWN & COUNTRY NOTEBOOK -

Ar­gen­tine Mal­bec is a gift that keeps giv­ing. The more of these wines I taste, the more I sus­pect that the grape of Ca­hors, grown high in the foothills of the An­des, is pro­duc­ing the New World’s great­est reds. I say that out of no dis­re­spect to the finest Cal­i­for­nian Caber­nets and Aus­tralian Shi­razes, not to men­tion New Zealand Pinot Noirs—i’m a huge fan of all three.

Why you should be drink­ing them

The story of Mal­bec in the prov­ince of Men­doza in Ar­gentina is ac­tu­ally quite an old one. At the height of the phyl­lox­era epi­demic in the 1880s, many vi­gnerons from south-west France em­i­grated to Ar­gentina and be­gan plant­ing their na­tive grapes in a drier, warmer climate. At the turn of the 20th cen­tury, more than 50% of the pro­vin­cial bud­get of Men­doza came from wine, but the qual­ity tra­jec­tory of Ar­gen­tine Mal­bec only took off in the 1990s with the work of Ni­co­las Catena, the Lur­tons and oth­ers.

What to drink

Fran­cois Lur­ton, son of An­dré, is con­tin­u­ing the tra­di­tion of Borde­lais emi­grés to Men­doza and mak­ing some of the most de­li­cious, re­fined Mal­becs I’ve en­coun­tered, from plant­ings high in the Uco val­ley. Piedra Ne­gra Gran Mal­bec 2008 (£27.95; www.wineu­topia.co.uk) has a lovely com­bi­na­tion of choco­latey rich­ness and bright, red-fruit ten­sion. Cha­cayes 2013 (right, £53; www.tan­ners-wines. co.uk), from a sin­gle vine­yard, is denser and more com­plex, with notes of mint and thyme; for all its chewi­ness, it re­tains a beau­ti­ful pu­rity and fresh­ness.

Harry Eyres pays homage to ‘the New World’s great­est reds’

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