Fabre Montmayou Gran Reserva Malbec 2015
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Hervé Joyaux Fabre, owner and director of Fabre Montmayou, was born in Bordeaux, France to a family of wine negociants. When he arrived in Argentina in the early 90’s looking for opportunities to invest in vineyards and start a winery, he was impressed by the potential for Malbec in Mendoza, and shocked by the number of neglected top notch old vine vineyards available for purchase. At this time pulling out old vines and replanting with new higher yielding more predictable clones was all the rage. Hervé Fabre knew he needed to act immediately. Within months he purchased the first of what would be many old vine, high elevation vineyard sites under his control - An impeccable 37 acre spread in Vistalba planted with original rootstock Malbec vines in 1908. Shortly after, Herve built a Chateau style winery on the property and continued purchasing old vine parcels throughout the country. A Patagonian winery was constructed in the Rio Negro region ten years later. At present the family owns 217 acres of vineyard land in Mendoza (Vistalba, Compuertas, Tupungato) and 122 acres in Patagonia (Allen, General Roca). All wines are estate grown, farmed using traditional methods without the use of herbicides, and fermented with native yeasts.
By far the largest and best-known winemaking province in Argentina, Mendoza is responsible for over 70% of the country’s enological output. Set in the eastern foothills of the Andes Mountains, the climate is dry and continental, presenting relatively few challenges for viticulturists during the growing season. Mendoza, divided into several distinctive sub-regions, including Luján de Cuyo and the Uco Valley, is the source of some of the country’s finest wines.
For many wine lovers, Mendoza is practically synonymous with Malbec. Originally a Bordelaise variety brought to Argentina by the French in the mid-1800s, here it found success and renown that it never knew in its homeland where a finicky climate gives mixed results. Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot and Pinot Noir are all widely planted here as well (and sometimes even blended with each other or Malbec). Mendoza's main white varieties include Chardonnay, Torrontés, Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon.
Known for its big, bold flavors and supple texture, Malbec is most famous for its runaway success in Argentina. However, the variety actually originated in Bordeaux, where it historically contributed color and tannin to blends. After being nearly wiped out by a devastating frost in 1956, it was never significantly replanted, although it continued to flourish under the name Côt in nearby Cahors. A French agronomist who saw great potential for the variety in Mendoza’s hot, high-altitude landscape, brought Malbec to Argentina in 1868. But it did not gain its current reputation as the country's national grape until a surge in popularity in the late 20th century.
In the Glass
Malbec typically expresses deep flavors of blackberry, plum and licorice, appropriately backed by aromas of freshly turned earth and dense, chewy tannins. In warmer, New World regions, such as Mendoza, Malbec will be intensely ripe, and full of fruit and spice. From its homeland in Cahors, its rusticity shines; dusty notes and a beguiling bouquet of violets balance rich, black fruit.
Malbec’s rustic character begs for flavorful dishes, like spicy grilled sausages or the classic cassoulet of France’s Southwest. South American iterations are best enjoyed as they would be in Argentina: with a thick, juicy steak.
If you’re trying to please a crowd, Malbec is generally a safe bet. With its combination of bold flavors and soft tannins, it will appeal to basically anyone who enjoys red wine. Malbec also wins bonus points for affordability, as even the most inexpensive examples are often quite good.