Malbec is a kind of grape that is grown world wide, but primarily in Argentina and France. It originated in France (Cahors), mostly used in blends (i.e. Bordeaux blends), but wasn’t really popular as a single varietal. It wasn’t until it started to grow in Argentina that Malbec as a single varietal really began to take off.
While the same grape, the flavors/characteristics of Argentinian and French Malbec are very different. Argentinian Malbec tends to have high acidity, lots of tannin (dryness), black fruits (blackberry, black raspberry, plum…), and floral notes. It is more fruit forward with a smooth ending. French Malbec tends to be more earthy. There is way more tannin (dryness), grit, and smokiness to it. There are still some black fruit flavors, but the earth and grit of the wine are more apparent. You need to let French Malbec, or blends with French Malbec (Bordeaux), breathe for a while, whereas Argentinian Malbec can be enjoyed right away or with minimal oxygen exposure. Both are fantastic, depending on what you are looking for in a wine.
I had Bodega Luigi Bosca’s Malbec, an Argentinian Malbec, in my stash, so I decided to use this wine for my pairing. When first thinking about what to pair with a wine, it is very important to think about what country the wine is from and what foods/dishes are native to that dish. Typically, if the dish and the wine are both native to that country or culture, they will pair well together! If you think about the typical foods of Argentina, beef is a staple. It makes sense that an Argentine wine and steak would go together. If you are ever in the mood for a steak, an Argentinian Malbec would be an excellent choice, regardless of its individual flavors.
Bodega Luigi Bocca was rated as Wine Spectator’s Top 100 wines of 2015, and it is no wonder. This wine was everything I wanted for a steak. It exuded plum, cherry, and mocha. There was a slight leathery pepper note at the end of the taste, creating a nice balance of fruit and tannin. I chose this wine for a steak because the initial fruit flavors would only enhance the juiciness of the steak.
In Argentina, Chimichurri is a considered a condiment, so I decided to make some and put it on top of the steak. Chimichurri is the Argentinian version of pesto. It is mostly parsley, cilantro, garlic, red onion, oil, and vinegar. The acidity of the onion and the herbal flavors of the herbs go marvelously with the juiciness of a steak. I went all out for this post, and bought some Manchego Cheese to go with it all. I know nothing about cheese, especially what cheeses pair well with wine, so I can’t tell you why I chose Manchego to pair with the meal other than, I googled it.
The pairing, I dare say, was absolutely wonderful, especially when you have the meat, chimichurri, and manchego all in one bite. The juiciness of the steak, the acidity and earthiness of the chimchurri, and the creamy cheese went oh so well with the flavors of the wine. With the food, I tasted more of the berry notes and less of the leather of the Malbec. On its own, the wine was more balanced and even. I could have ordered this at a restaurant and have been extremely content. Was it a match made in heaven? Was this wine and this meal soulmates? Almost! While the flavors went well together, I missed the leathery peppery dryness at the end. However, as with all things with wine and food, that is just personal preference. 4 grapes.
Recipe: Eye Round Steak with Chimichurri and Manchebo Cheese (Skinnytaste)
Wine: 2013 Bodega Luigi Bosca Malbec ($24) Dominion Wine and Beer
Questions for you! Comment below!
- How familiar are you with Malbec?
- Do you prefer French or Argentinian Malbec?
- What are your favorite steak pairings?
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