Malbec – It’s Hipster Heaven!
It may be the rise of Enotourism or just the handiwork of 21st Century hipsters and beatniks, but there has been a definite push towards new and exciting styles of wine in recent times. There was once a time when the “in crowd” were satisfied with a wooded chardonnay or even a cab-sauv blend, but in their pushback against mainstream, they seek a point of difference in every part of their lives.
Being a part of cultural mainstream is no longer funky or “on trend”. Now, the fashionista elite are seemingly creating a new class of non-conformist cool kids who shun the big brands in favour of craft beers and micro-breweries. They turn their noses up at Shiraz, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay and yearn for little known varietals from exotic foreign locations. Just take a walk through any wine list (or in a hipster hang out, perhaps it is more likely called the Carte des Vins!) and you’ll likely see more Rioja, Malbec and Gamay than Cabernet or Shiraz.
And while I don’t pretend to be part of this emerging anti-establishment social set, I do admit to holding admiration for their foray into lesser known wines particularly where unusual or little known grapes are concerned.
One of the emerging oenological champions of these hipster Millennials is a red wine that hails from South Western France but is now doing better work on other parts of the Globe. Malbec, is a native of the Bordeaux Region that almost 200 years ago spread its wings to the Southern Hemisphere and is now producing beautiful examples in moderate climates at higher altitudes. In Australia, elevated and cooler climate regions in places like Canberra or Orange in New South Wales are proving a breeding ground for spectacular Malbec – like the Tamburlaine Organic Wines Malbec 2016 which is pricey at $44 but a cracking drop.
But if you need to find an exceptional Malbec at a budget friendly price point, a bottle of an Argentinian example of the style, is likely to fit the bill. It was the French who introduced Malbec to introduce the country and these days, the Mendoza Region (which, incidentally, produces almost 60% of the country’s wine) with its high altitude and low humidity, is perfectly suited to growing the grape. Like nearby Chile, the Argentinian vineyards escaped the phylloxera epidemic that wiped out most of the “old world” vines in the late 19th Century. Modern winemaking practices have vastly improved the quality and appeal of their wines in recent decades and now, a Mendoza Malbec is the equal of a top Australian Shiraz.
Kaiken Ultra Malbec 2015
One of the better ones I’ve found recently is the Kaiken Ultra Malbec 2015, which is available at Dan Murphy’s at about $24 a bottle. It is a vibrant purple in the glass and displays hints of violet and cocoa powder on the nose. Once on the palate, plums, blackberry and dark cherry flavours take hold and meet firm tannins and a forest floor spiciness at the back end. The anomaly of sweet tannins and vibrant colour earthiness is quite enchanting. A perfectly enjoyable way to wash down bangers and mash, or even Mum’s lamb roast!
It may be unpatriotic for me to confess my admiration for the style, but perhaps, at least, I’m one step closer to being allowed entry to the new farm hipster hangouts!