Antelope Valley Press - AV Living (Antelope Valley)

Malbec finds a home in Argentina

- WRITTEN BY Lyle W. Norton | Special to the Valley Press

Not in a million years would I have guessed that the highest peak in the Western Hemisphere would be Mount Aconcaqua in Argentina. My interest was in learning more about the vineyards east of the mountain in Mendoza, where some of the world’s finest malbec is produced.

The roots of malbec are the Bordeaux region in southwest France where it is among the “big six” permitted red grapes. Today, with diminished plantings, it is used in some blends, but lingers in the shadows of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc and petit verdot.

Malbec’s status in Argentina is quite different. It has found fame and a home in the sun, becoming the country’s signature grape and providing world markets with accessible full-bodied wines at reasonable prices. While vineyards exist in South Africa, Australia and Chile, their combined production doesn’t match the capacity of Argentinia­n malbecs.

For years, the Mendoza region has been a destinatio­n for adventure tourists who enjoy hiking, skiing and climbing. Today, 1,000 vineyards and hundreds of wineries attract wine tourists in unparallel­ed numbers. Seventy-five percent of all Mendoza vineyards are planted in malbec. High altitude, arid climate and varied soil types create the terroir and potential for aromatic, powerful,

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