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Malbecs Around the Globe

25 years ago, Argentina’s leading red grape, Malbec, was relatively unknown to Americans. Some wine lovers probably knew the grape from Bordeaux blends. A few aficionados may have tried an inky black and very tannic French wine called Côt, the original Malbec from the Cahors region.  However, a dramatic rise in Argentina’s wine quality and incredible export success catapulted Malbec from the relative backwaters of the wine world to vino stardom. According to Argentina Tourism and Wines, between 1995 and 2005 the value of the country’s wine exports increased by more than 300% with about 25% destined for the United States — most of it was Malbec. Since then, exports have plateaued and in recent years slightly declined, but Argentine wine quality, led by Malbec, can be world class. Some of these Malbec wines approach the power of a Cabernet Sauvignon with concentrated dark fruits and tasty tannins. Others, with higher acidity, have the finesse of a Pinot Noir. In The Wine Bible, Karen MacNeil describes it best as, “distinct in character and spellbinding in flavor.” The French region of