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The Two M’s of Argentinian Wine in Canada

September 13, 2011 - by Steve Shanahan

Canada has fallen in love Argentinian wine. Well at least, we have fallen in love with the tip of the iceberg of Argentinian wine. Most Canadians have two M’s come to mind when they think about Argentinian wine, Mendoza and Malbec. Mendoza is the arid region cobbled with mountains and valleys that produces reds like Malbecs, Merlots, Cabernet Sauvignons as well as the indigenous Torrontes white wine plus the usual french transplants. But it is Malbec that Canadians gobble up the most from the Argentina sections of liquor stores and wine shops from coast-to-coast. Brands like Bodega Norton and Finca Flichman broke the market open in Canada, but no winery has quite had the success of Zuccardi’s Fuzion. In the last three years the Fuzion Malbec has gone from an obscure listing in most provinces to a top seller. Wine critics gushed over its great value, and deal conscious Canadian wine buyers started a buying frenzy that had never be seen before. My favourite Irish Pub, the Irish Embassy here in Montreal has it as their house red, and I enjoy with a plate of nachos and a hockey game.

Now that Canadian wine buyers trust “Made In Argentina,” what other great regions, wineries and wines will make up the next wave in Canada? You can already see all the major Argentinian wine houses expanding their offers and wine retailers making shelf space available for the big 3 varietals Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Chardonnay’s from wineries that have a strong foothold with their Malbec. Torrontes is not an unfamiliar name now either. I am personally hoping to see wine retailers embrace the Argentinian varietal called Bonarda. (See wine and music matching for two Argentinian Bonarda’s here) Bonarda is grape that originated in the Italian wine region of Piemont, and is widely grown in Argentina, but almost exclusively as a blending grape. It makes a juicy, soft tannin wine often called upon to add some cherry flavour to other wines. As a single varietal wine it can become very interesting as the wines gain some body from more mature vines – really giving a winemaker a wide palate to work with. This could make a great counterpoint for those who argue that Argentina is all about muscular Mendoza Malbecs.

And if you are looking for counterpoint to muscular Mendoza Malbec, wine maker Jean Bousquet has made an organic sweet dessert wine from Malbec called Dulce Naturel in the Tupungato region. It is a sublime product (music match here).

And when it comes to diving in and enjoying a Malbec from Mendoza or any other region on this Malbec day, coming up on April 17th, the BottleDJ suggests you match a Finca Flichman Gestos Malbec with Hey Rosetta!’s Red Heart. The wine comes from a 50/50 blend Merlot grown at mountain tops and valley lows, a great single variety blend. The song captures the intensity, warmth and ruggedness of the wine.

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