Lure your in­ner gau­cho with a mighty Mal­bec

Belfast Telegraph - Weekend - - FOOD -

Ah, the mighty mal­bec, how much do we love thee. In fact, ex­ports of the red from the US to the UK have leapt from 77% between 2013 to 2017, ac­cord­ing to Nielsen. So how has Ar­gentina’s A-list grape be­come such a hit on the wine scene? For starters, this pur­ple grape has depth and breadth, while height def­i­nitely comes into play with vine­yards in the Men­doza re­gion peak­ing at 1,500m above sea level.

Orig­i­nally a French va­ri­etal, the vines flour­ish at high alti­tude in the foothills of the An­des. Hot, arid con­di­tions with long hours of sun­shine and cool tem­per­a­tures at night pro­duce wines that are prized for their soft, vel­vety tex­ture and plummy flavours.

We love it for ev­ery­day drink­ing, freely pour it on spe­cial oc­ca­sions, sip it in the sun­shine, savour it by can­dle-light, and are pas­sion­ate about the per­fumed fruit. Vy­ing for your corkscrew, these six pur­ple beau­ties may even en­cour­age a tango ... 1. Trapiche Pure Mal­bec 2016, Men­doza, Ar­gentina (£6.29 from £7.29, un­til April 17, The Co-op­er­a­tive, in-store only) A cham­pion of the grape, Trapiche win­ery has the pick of some of the best parcels of fruit, and this ver­sion brims with dark red fruits in­clud­ing plums and cher­ries, high­lighted by vi­o­let-scented flo­rals and fin­ish­ing with silky tan­nins. 2. Diver­sity of Ter­roir Pre­mium Mal­bec 2016, Men­doza, Ar­gentina (£7.98, Asda) Richly per­fumed with dark cherry and Trapiche Pure Mal­bec 2016, Men­doza, Ar­gentina, Co-Op, £6.29 Fin­cas Del Sur Mal­bec 2017, Men­doza, Ar­gentina, Vir­gin Wines, £12.99 rasp­berry liqueur, the al­lur­ing scents make you want to dive right in. Smooth and berry for­ward, well in­te­grated tan­nins firm up the lay­ers of dam­son, straw­berry and sweet, bram­bly fruits. A good week­day wine to come home to. 3. OPI Mal­bec 2017, Men­doza, Ar­gentina (£9.99, Laith­waites) De­li­ciously invit­ing, this smooth and silky mal­bec is full of ripe black­berry, plum and blue­berry, with hints of vi­o­lets and spice. El­e­gant with a fine struc­ture, yet rich and dense with­out be­ing heavy, it’s soft and rounded with lovely length. Tes­ta­ment to the wine­maker, it was named ‘Best Mal­bec of Ar­gentina’ in its de­but vin­tage. Bring on a juicy steak. 4. TTD Mal­bec Reserva High Alti­tude 2016, Men­doza, Ar­gentina (£13, Sains­bury’s) Full and for­ward, invit­ing and in­tense, this su­per­mar­ket own la­bel hits all the right notes if you like your mal­bec rich and ripe with a sub­tle use of oak. Made by the tal­ented win­ery team at La Casa del Rey, it fea­tures waves of spicy dam­son, cherry and per­fumed black fruits. 5. Fin­cas Del Sur Mal­bec 2017, Men­doza, Ar­gentina (£12.99, Vir­gin Wines) With a gor­geous mixed bou­quet of roses and vi­o­lets, and feel­ing plush on the tongue from be­gin­ning to end, this is a top notch mal­bec from lead­ing pro­ducer Zuc­cardi. Soft as a vel­vet cush­ion, it cloaks the mouth with very ripe plums, dam­son and black­cur­rant flavours. 6. Zuc­cardi Moun­tain Vine­yard Mal­bec 2013, Ar­gentina (£22, Sains­bury’s) An­other win­ner from Zuc­cardi, this is a broad-shoul­dered mal­bec that’s full bod­ied and rich with com­plex vi­o­let aro­mas and herbal tones. Note swathes of blue­berry and black­berry fruit with an in­cred­i­ble ripeness, as well as a silky soft­ness, and a pow­er­ful, per­sis­tent fin­ish. A real charmer, and a keeper. Diver­sity of Ter­roir Pre­mium Mal­bec 2016, Men­doza, Ar­gentina, Asda, £7.98

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