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Ruta 22 Malbec 2013
The geography surrounding Ruta 22 is one of plateaus, mountains and of extreme weather. This area is mainly characterized by a landscape of lakes, mountains and forests. Ruta 22 captures the essence of Patagonia, transporting people to a barren and rugged landscape; a landscape that is a fertile and potent foundation for amazing possibilities; and one that inspires adventure, sincerity and fearlessness.
One of the most southerly regions on the globe for fine wine production, Patagonia has experienced extraordinary vineyard expansion since the early 2000s.
Patagonia vineyards occupy the lower foothills of the Andes at 1,000 to 1,600 feet. Here cold air drops at night from incredibly steep elevations—the Andes reach well over 15,000 feet in this zone—a phenomenon that produces drastic diurnal shifts. Cold nights contrasted with hot summer days produce grapes with striking color, full ripeness, great finesse and aromatic intensity.
Favored for its luxury brands, the Patagonia wine growing region of Argentina focuses on a diverse array of international varieties: Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillón and Viognier among the white grapes, and Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon for reds.
Known for its big, bold flavors and supple texture, Malbec is most famous for its runaway success in Argentina. However, the variety actually originates 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.