This Saturday, like all April 17, Malbec Day will be celebrated, the flagship strain of Argentina. The figurehead of an industry that is said to be part of the New Wine World, but which was actually born in the 16th century in the province of Santiago del Estero. Of course, other versions tell another story. Nice occasion to discuss them with a drink in hand.
Beyond any circumstance, what celebrates Malbec Day is a political decision, since that day in 1853, the Mendoza legislature voted for the creation of the Agronomic Farm promoted by Domingo Faustino Sarmiento, just like the one that already existed. in Chile, by Michel Pouget. At this point, a drink will have to be served again: did the Frenchman come from his country with stakes of various varieties or did he just cross the Cordillera with those same stakes that he cultivated in Chile? In truth, the really important thing is that It is the mythical foundation of what would be the modern viticulture of Argentina. Thus, by boat or on the back of a mule, what would later be known as “French grapes” arrived in the country.
With an additional advantage: in 1863 the phylloxera epidemic destroyed the Malbec plantations in France and therefore, Argentina is the only country in the world with original French stock prefylloxera. As in so many other things, his name also deserves a talk with a drink in hand. For some it originates from the surname of a Hungarian nurseryman, Malbek, who was the first to separate it and grow it without other varieties. It settled in various areas of France and in the Cahors area, a variant originated with a rough palate and hard tannins. Hence the name “bad bec”, bad peak, bad taste.
Malbec is currently the most cultivated strain in the country with 45,657 hectares and its production increased by 52% since 2010, according to data from the National Institute of Viticulture (INV). Its production is equivalent to 39.96% of the red varieties and the leadership in its cultivation corresponds to Mendoza, with 85.9% of the total. And it was also the most exported variety in all of 2020.
At what point does Malbec Day find the wine industry this year?he asked Clarion to Maximiliano Hernández Toso, head of Wines of Argentina (WOFA), the entity in charge of promoting Argentine wine throughout the world.
– I am not original in saying that the moment is difficult due to the pandemic. For this reason there will be no face-to-face celebrations in any city in the world, as we used to do. The idea is also to appeal to virtuality, a bet that WOFA implemented last year, to be able to share the event with more people.
And he explained that everyone can follow the activities of the different events on social networks through #MalbecArgentino and #MalbecWorldDay.
Hernandez Toso express that “despite the increase in consumption last year, for the industry, due to the pandemic, inflation and the level of wages, in the local market, which represents 75% of total wine consumption, it will be a year for survive. But there are other countries that are already emerging from the pandemic and that are also great customers of our wines and that is why exports are good. ” And he assured that “today, Argentina is making the best wines in its history.”
And it seems that not just malbec: James Suckling, one of the most important American wine critics in the world, assured a few weeks ago that “Argentina is more than malbec.” “I fully share – said Hernández Toso – we are diversity. The wine industry is diversity. And we have very creative winemakers. We have great chardonnays and excellent cabernets. A pinot noir was awarded and a merlot was chosen the best world exponent of the strain. Something very good comes with the criolla chica, an almost forgotten grape, as well as with the cabernet franc and the semillon. But, of course, Malbec has its best global expression here. “
A characteristic, it is worth mentioning, that is replicated in the various terroirs where Malbec is grown. From the Cordillera to the Atlantic and from Salta to Chubut, the variety has peaks of diverse quality and originality. And remarkable.
What is increasing the most in the local market is consumption in the bottle and in higher priced products. In exports there is also this premiumization of demand?
Yes, totally. Above all because of the quality of the wines we produce and due to the rise in costs and the tax burden, we have already lost the cheapest wine markets. It is also a global trend, since less wine is drunk, but of better quality. And Argentina got on that trend … although there are always risks.
What if. The dollar that we have now allows us a certain economic equation. But if the exchange rate lags, we could be left out of various markets. Here, it is not only necessary to fight against frost, pests or rains. We are managing that. What is outside of nature is more serious. Human decisions are the biggest problem.
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