Astor’s Taytslin says, “Extremely
rare is the customer who wants to
splurge on a bottle of Malbec specifi-
cally. Over the past six months, I could
count them on one hand.” Still, Tayt-
slin makes the case that it’s not a lack
of willingness to spend more on wine.
It’s that because so much good juice is
delivered in the $10 range, consumers
feel they don’t need to pay more. He
also mentioned that people know Mal-
bec well enough that when they want
something “interesting” they’re looking
into different territories.
So, has Argentinian Malbec become
a one-hit, budget-friendly wonder? It
seems so, but it depends with whom you
speak. Adam LaPierre MW, the national
sales manager of the fine wine division
at Frederick Wildman and Sons, thinks
the big brand domination of $8-15 range
could mean it is growing a bit stale.
However, Malbec is on fire off-premise
in the $3-$8 and $15+ ranges. He pos-
its that the variety is accepted so widely
now that larger companies are creat-
ing even greater-value propositions.
I can’t help but wonder if the entry of
even lower-priced Malbecs will stretch
the quality of the $8-15 category. Or,
will better fruit be transitioning down
the chain if movement continues to be
slower in the higher-priced categories?
Malbec Dining Out
On-premise, a few things seem to be
happening. Jason Mabile, director of key
accounts in the New York metro area at
Lauber Imports, reports that for by-the-
glass lists 95% of restaurant wine buyers
want a Malbec for wholesale bottle price
of $8 or less. Those 5% who could trade
up, for example the Michelin-starred
restaurants, simply ignore the variety.
That posture seems not unlike the one
often taken toward Pinot Grigio. How-
ever, this could be New York snobbery
at work. LaPierre has been excited to
watch many independent and national
restaurant chains pick up lesser-known
producers without hesitation as the va-
riety is so widely accepted.
Whatever your position on Argen-
tinian Malbec, the category is at a piv-
otal point. If you support it, do so now!
Here is a sampling of a few personal fa-
vorites to discover or revisit:
Terrazas de los Andes
Don Cristóbal “1942”
Gouguenheim “Estaciones del Valle”
Altos Las Hormigas Reserva
Valle las Acequias
(Bodega Correas) “Roble”
Domnio del Plata
(Susana Balbo) “Signature”
Tikal Amorio (Ernesto Catena)
Coboa Bramare Machiori Vineyard
Nieto Senetiner Cadus Single Vineyard
Argentina is home to a number of ultra-modern wineries, such as Trapiche
(left). Above: the Andes provide not only a stunning backdrop to Mendoza
vineyards, but also an abundance of fresh meltwater for irrigation.
Mendoza: Think Big
Clearly the most important wine-
making province of Argentina, Mendoza
is huge, covering more than 395,000
acres of vineyards and yielding more
than 80% of Argentina’s wine.
There are actually five large oases
within Mendoza: North, East, Center,
South and Uco Valley (Valle de Uco);
and while each is further divided into
many subregions, producers have wisely
chosen to favor the general region, Men-
doza, for labeling. In turn, Mendoza has
gained household-name status—right
alongside Malbec—among American red
Scarce rainfall and pure meltwater
irrigation make the difference for men-
doza, as they allow growers to regulate
vine and grape growth, as well as
sugar and tannin concentration.