“We’re not talking about a Boom Varietal; Malbec is here to stay”
David Stevens-Castro is a Queensland based highly regarded wine expert originally from Chile. Artisan Malbec team met him at the sunny Gold Coast to talk about Malbec and share the experience of including this wine in his famous wine lists.
How long have you been adding Malbec to your wine lists and why?
I've been adding Malbec to my wine lists for over 3 years. Being a South American born sommelier, my clientele is always keen to taste what I select for the wine lists that I produce, and tasting wines that come from my origins add a compelling angle to hook their interest.
Tell us your favourite thing about Malbec.
The floral aroma with the blueberry and rocky tones of the variety, as well as its impact and weight of flavour on the palate.
Which are the main differences of New World Malbecs wines and those from Cahors in France?
Acidity and richness; Argentina produces a Malbec of more concentration and has also a higher proportion of oak influence bouquet and flavours if compared with France's Cahors, which will be higher acidity, lower alcohol and lighter in body with less influence of oak maturation, a more juicy 'easy drinking' style.
Why do you think Malbec variety has been rising in popularity in Australia?
Due to the Australian love of grilled meats. Australian's have adopted the BBQ as a national pastime, and they already enjoy rich concentrated reds from Barossa and McLaren Vale to match with the BBQ. As a result Malbec is an attractive proposition for many, as it shares similar characteristics of being rich and powerful as well as an affinity with meat for food matching.
Why a client would ask for a Malbec?
Because they find it trendy and it shows in-the-know knowledge. Normally this type of client likes to experiment with something different every time they dine out, often because they have travelled the world and they know that countries like Argentina are producing great Malbec.
Which is your best Malbec pairing?
It is a bit of a state-the-obvious kind of answer, but yes, grilled meat! I particularly enjoy it with lamb and rosemary dressing. Malbec has the tannin and intensity of flavour to counterbalance and play in synergy with the oiliness of the meat.
Many say that Malbec is a boom varietal that will end soon. What’s your point of view?
The only way is up! If we look back 10 years, you wouldn't find 1/3 of the amount of producers currently available in the marketplace. Imported wines in Australia is certainly a category on the rise and Argentina offers a great value proposition, only rivalled by South Africa and of course, their next door neighbour Chile. Malbec is here to stay and there is already traction with this variety in big markets such as U.S & U.K so it will continue growing elsewhere too.
Artisan Malbec: Why do you think Argentina adopted the Malbec?
Fabricio Portelli: When Argentina reached out to go and discover the rest of the world we realised that we had so much Malbec in our terroir that we weren’t exploiting. This is when international consultants accidentally realised that instead of competing against wines like Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay it would be best to compete with a unique and new wine like Malbec. This is where its potential was and this is exactly how it happened.
Artisan Malbec: Malbec is now celebrated around the world – which country do you think is going to surprise us next?
Fabricio Portelli: Chile, without doubt. Every year there is an increasing amount of Malbec wine and it offers its own uniqueness because of its maritime climate viticulture as opposed to Argentina’s desert climate viticulture. Also because Chile is so close to us, it is easy for them to come here on a regular basis and learn about our progress and developments in this wine variety.
Artisan Malbec: Do you think Malbec has reached its maximum potential, either in Argentina or worldwide?
Fabricio Portelli: Up until now it was all about the variety of the grape, but now the first ‘terroir wines’ from Malbec have started to appear. With time these will undoubtedly give Malbec a finer, long-lived wholeness, which will then be compared against the best wines in the world. Having said that Malbec has already proved another dimension when combined with other wines like Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.
“Consumers always associate Malbec with Argentina and what characterises us like tango, soccer, beautiful landscapes and our meat. Malbec reflects all of what Argentina is made of”
David Stevens-Castro is the co-author of award winning cook book: PAIRED: Champagne & Sparkling Wines (The food & wine matching recipe book for everyone) He has a degree in Agricultural Science, specialising in fruit and wine production and extensive experience as a sommelier.