An Argentinian Treasure for World Malbec Day

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Hear ye, hear ye! Today I doth proclaim World Malbec Day, a day to solemn ourselves and pay tribute to the magnificent Malbec grape, and all its vinous manifestations, forsooth (rolls up scroll).

Yep, here we are with another wine holiday on our hands. This time it’s World Malbec Day; yea verily yea (I really need to start using that phrase IRL)! It’s interesting that Tannat Day and Malbec Day are so close together on the calendar, and they are the signature grapes of neighboring countries Uruguay (Tannat) and Argentina (Malbec). Not sure if this was done on purpose or not, but it makes sense to continue our little South American sojourn, so vámanos.

Malbec is a wine I have intensely adored, especially in my beginning days of wine exploration. And I still love it. I haven’t had it as much lately because I’ve been spending my wine budget elsewhere, but for me and many in the world it’s a classic.

I’ve had wonderful Malbecs from my home state of Washington, but today I’m unlocking my wine treasure chest to introduce you to one of my favorite Argentinian Malbecs, which will give you a great idea of why Malbec shines in this country.

Malbec and Tannat have similar backstories. In the 16th century, Spanish missionaries spread vinifera plantings throughout Argentina to establish a supply of sacramental wine. Using the farming practices of the natives, the Spanish irrigated the vineyards in the valley with ice/snow melt from the Andes Mountains. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, many European immigrants came to Argentina and brought with them new grape varieties, including Malbec. Both Tannat and Malbec are grapes native to southwest France.

This particular Malbec is magical. I used this wine in a class I taught to illustrate Old World vs. New World wine characteristics (essentially, warmer climates yield grapes with higher sugar content, and cooler climates yield grapes with higher acid content, because they don’t ripen as much as their warm climate counterparts). Everyone loved it, and this beauty just got more interesting and sumptuous the longer it revealed itself in the decanter.

For best results, decant for 30-60 minutes prior to drinking. If it’s for a group, pour out the whole bottle into a decanter.

Here are the details and my impressions of the wine:

Phebus Malbec Gran Reserva Mendoza Argentina

Phebus Malbec Gran Reserva Mendoza Argentina. Photo courtesy Total Wine.

Phebus Malbec Gran Reserva Mendoza Argentina

  • $27/bottle at Total Wine
  • Full body, lots of heft, 15% ABV
  • Good acidity providing solid structure
  • Bold, unfolding layers of blackberry, black cherry, coffee, chocolate, tobacco
  • Velvety texture
  • Long, complex, irresistible finish

As I have regrettably lost my tasting notes from the last time I had this wine, my list may be missing a few details, but I’m providing you with the product description from Total Wine, which sums up my recollection as well:

“A very complex and elegant wine with floral aromas of violets, black cherries and licorice. On the palate the wine is deep and rich, perfectly balanced with delicate silky tannins and well integrated French oak. Perfect with a juicy steak, game, rich cheeses and chocolate desserts.”

My husband picked up this wine from Total Wine years ago. We first had it with a roast and it was magnífico. It’s one wine we turn to again and again and we are always floored by its quality. Remember, Argentina is also famous for its excellent beef, so Malbec + steak = natural harmony.

Total Wine also sells the Phebus Malbec ($14) and the Phebus Malbec Reserva ($17) in addition to the Gran Reserva ($27). I’ve had the Reserva which is still excellent – not as outstanding as the GR but nevertheless a wonderful wine for the price. You can try the others, but the Gran Reserva is unbeatable in style and quality. Go ahead and splurge on this version, I assure you it’s worth it!

For fun, buy all three bottles and do side-by-side tasting comparisons. See if you think they are each worth their price. Call it your World Malbec Day fiesta!

Happy World Malbec Day! Do you have a favorite Malbec I should know about? ¡Dígame! 🙂

Nat Geo Wines of the World


1 thought on “An Argentinian Treasure for World Malbec Day

  1. Pingback: Say “Kia Ora” for International Sauvignon Blanc Day | The Rambling Vine

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