World Malbec Day

Why is World Malbec Day on April 17th?

As I’m sure you all know, Malbec is a French variety, principally grown in the Cahors region 200km east of Bordeaux, close to the Pyrenees. In the last few years, Malbec, once almost a swear word as it was such a rough variety, has had something of a revival in its homeland, thanks to the success of the Argentine product.

Argentina produces more Malbec than anywhere else in the world: almost 25% of Argentine vineyards are planted with Malbec: that’s more than the next three most popular red varieties of Bonarda, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah combined.

And yet its success was almost accidental. It was only in the mid 19th century that Malbec vines arrived in Latin America.

The original grapevines were brought over 300 years before that by the Spanish settlers, as the priests needed a steady supply of wine for the mass. The predominant variety in colonial times was uva negra, also known as criolla chica, but that’s a story for another day.

After independence from Spain, Argentina was embroiled in Civil War for much of the 19th century, forcing huge numbers of people into exile: among them, a native of San Juan called Domingo Sarmiento.

He was a kind of Renaissance man of his time: journalist, teacher, and politician, with a keen interest in agriculture and mining as the means of developing the economy.

Then, as of now, the focal point of the wine industry was San Juan and Mendoza, stretching north into La Rioja, Catamarca and Salta, all areas which the Spanish had colonised by the end of the 16th century, after crossing the Andes from Chile.

After traveling in Europe and the USA, Sarmiento found himself in Santiago de Chile, where he was instrumental in setting up the Quinta Normal in 1841. Based on an agricultural school in Paris, he and his students planted numerous grape varieties imported from France, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, and Malbec.

When relative peace returned, Sarmiento returned to Argentina, and invited over one of his enologist contacts from Santiago, the Frenchman Michel Aime Pouget. He headed up a new agricultural school at Mendoza: a project officially approved by the local government on 17th April 1853: so that’s the date we celebrate World Malbec Day. Salud and Cheers!

Raise a glass tonight, and let’s all toast Sarmiento!

Duration
5 days
Group Size
1 to 4

Wine and History: Mendoza to Salta

Take the long and winding road from Mendoza to Salta, visiting lesser known boutique wineries in San Juan, La Rioja, and Catamarca along the way.

This deep immersion into the wine and culture of Argentina is perfect for those who want to combine an exploration of the rich history of the region with some of its best off the beaten track wineries, while driving through some breathtaking scenery close to the Andes.

Our journey begins in the hub of Argentine wine production, Mendoza, taking the iconic Route 40 north through the emerging wine regions of La Rioja, Catamarca, and Tucuman.

Click here to view map route.

from
500 USD
Duration
3 days
Group Size
1 to 4

Classic Wine Route

Explore the varied landscape of the Valles Calchaquies and its excellent boutique wineries in this Argentine wine tour par excellence.

Our Classic wine route combines Salta's superb boutique wineries in the highest altitude wine region in the world with the breathtaking landscape of north west Argentina.

Apart from the ubiquitous Malbec, this area is known for its fine Torrontes and Tannat.

Click here to view map route.

from
300 USD
Duration
6 days
Group Size
1 to 4

Wine and History: Salta to Mendoza

Take the long and winding road from Salta to Mendoza, visiting lesser-known boutique wineries in Catamarca, La Rioja, and San Juan along the way.

This deep immersion into the wine and culture of Argentina is perfect for those who want to combine an exploration of the rich history of the region with some of its best off-the-beaten-track wineries, through some breathtaking scenery close to the Andes. Apart from Argentina’s classic red Malbec, we’ll be sampling lesser-known varieties like Tannat, and discovering the Argentine take on classics like Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, and Pinot Grigio.

Our journey begins in the highest altitude wine region in the world, the Valles Calchaquies in Salta, famous for its production of Torrontes, a white grape variety that is unique to Argentina. From Salta’s principal wine town of Cafayate, we take the iconic Route 40 south, through the emerging wine regions of Tucuman, Catamarca, and La Rioja, before arriving in the provinces of San Juan and Mendoza, producers of 93% of the nation’s wine.

Click here to view map route.

from
600 USD