My wife and I were having dinner with good friends last night, and I served them a Gascon Reserve Malbec, 2010 from Argentina, imported by Gallo. The Gascon part is easy enough to find, even at your local grocery store, but the “reserve” bottling will make a difficult search for anyone, and deservedly so: it’s a delicious quaff by any standards. Malbec itself comes from the Cahors region of France, just a little southeast of Bordeaux. Sometime in the 1850’s, and prior to the phylloxera plague that devastated so many French vineyards, Malbec cuttings somehow made their way to Argentina. Some have suggested that the pre-phylloxera part of the story explains why Malbecs from Argentina taste so much better than their French counterparts. It is theorized that the Malbec vines which replaced the phylloxera-destroyed originals never again achieved the former glory of their French predecessors. Well, I’ve never tasted a 19th century Malbec, but I can certainly attest to the superiority of their now widely available Argentine offspring.
While we’re on the subject of wines that somehow do better in their host countries than in their original homes, think of Zinfandel and Petite Sirah … and, if this kind of thing interests you, have you ever looked at Jancis Robinson’s (et al.) rather new book, titled Wine Grapes? It’s nothing short of both glorious and magisterial!