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Malbec finds a home in Margaret River

13
Feb

Evans & Tate - Malbec

 

Malbec wines from France and Argentina have always been popular, but for a long time in Australia, the grape variety struggled for an audience. Many wineries have continued to show faith in Malbec, investing in trialling the grape in new regions and experimenting with the style of wines made.

It seems, at long last, it has found a home in Margaret River, with the region producing some first rate Malbec wines that are becoming increasingly popular and proving the viability of growing and making Malbec in Australia.

 

MALBEC grape

The Malbec grape is a thin-skinned grape and needs more sun and heat than either Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot to mature. It ripens mid-season and can bring very deep colour, ample tannin, and a particular ripe plum-like flavour. Margaret River is proving to be a particularly suitable environment for Malbec, as are regions in South Australia like Langhorne.

 

Evans & Tate - Bridgelands Vineyards

 

MALBEC IN AUSTRALIA

The grape was introduced to Australia in the 19th century, though it was for a long time used as a “workhorse” for bulk wines, fortified wines and to bolster reds that lacked colour and depth. The particular clones planted in Australia were of poor quality and highly susceptible to coulure, frost and downy mildew. By the mid to late 20th century, many acres of Malbec were uprooted and planted with different varieties. By 2012 around 450 hectares were planted to Malbec nationwide, with South Australia having the most significant amount. As newer clones have become available, plantings of Malbec in Australia have increased slightly, especially in Western Australia.

Over the years, many growers have tried and failed to get customer support to ensure the success of Malbec, though it seems as though their persistence is starting to pay off. The quality of fruit from regions like Margaret River, which is proving to be a region that suits this grape, has established the credentials of Malbec, warranting several show awards in recent years.

Evans & Tate Chief Winemaker Matt Byrne says that an increased demand for the varietal is a great thing for the region.

“It’s an easy variety to grow and obtain yields, but very difficult to find the rare suitable sites that produce a complete, balanced stand alone wine from halting vegetative and berry growth at the right time…”

Matt thinks that Margaret River, particularly in vintages such as 2011, show the perfect conditions for the grape. He also says that sites like the one Evans & Tate uses are even more perfectly suited to Malbec.

“Our source Block shows exceptional vine and crop balance year after year. It has free-draining, warm soils, with high gravel content. It also produces berry size on the smaller end of what Malbec can produce and this allows for a more desirable structure…”

The 2011 Evans & Tate Margaret River Malbec received a Silver in 2012 at the Margaret River Wine Show, following it up with a Silver at the 2013 Qantas Wine Show of WA. It also nabbed a Gold medal at Cowra Wine Show 2013 and a Silver at the National Wine Show 2013, being the highest pointed Western Australian wine in its Class. But Matt Byrne says that is yet to hit its straps and will continue to improve with age.

 

Evans & Tate - Malbec

 

MALBEC AROUND THE WORLD

Wine critics tend to describe the French style of Malbec common in the Libournais as a “rustic” version of Merlot, softer in tannins and lower in acidity. The Malbec also known as Auxerrois of the Cahors region is much more tannic and a darker colour. Cahors’ Malbec is deep dark purple in colour, with aromas of ripe plums, tobacco, garlic, and raisins.

In Argentina, Malbec becomes softer with a plusher texture and riper tannins. The wines tend to have juicy fruit notes with violet aromas. In very warm regions of Argentina, Chile and Australia, the acidity of the wine needs to be monitored to ensure that it’s not be too low, causing an overly weak tasting wine.

 

MALBEC AND FOOD

If you look toward the style and type of food made in the regions where Malbec is grown, the common thread is meat. In Cahors, in the South West area of France, the regional dish is cassoulet- a rustic, haricot bean based stew that includes sausages, confit of duck and sometimes other meats. The other is Argentina, where beef and barbecues are the customary meal.

Taking advice from those experts that have for so long embraced this lovely wine, Malbec can be matched with a wide variety of red meats, like a char grilled steak or some Beef/Pork ribs.

 

 

The 2011 Evans & Tate Margaret River Malbec is a Cellar Door exclusive, available from our online Cellar Door and the Evans & Tate Redbrook Cellar Door in Margaret River. 

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