The name of “Malbec” supposedly comes from the surname of a Hungarian peasant who is attributed with being the first person to spread the variety throughout all of France.
If you were to ever check-out the big nerdy wine book that is The Oxford Companion to Wine, you’ll find that there are over 400 different names for the Malbec grape! This proving that the grapes’ popularity isn’t just a recent phenomena! In Bordeaux, it’s also known by Côt or Pressac, in the French Alsace and Cahors regions it’s called Auxerrois, Argentina sometimes gives it the name of Fer, and Portugal refers to it as Tinta Amarela.
Malbec was originally a very common grape in the Bordeaux wine region of France, where it is one of the “big five” grape varieties. These “five” being the main red grapes that make up Bordeaux blends, namely; Cabernet, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec.
Over time, the French started to get a little tired of the troublesome Malbec grape, which has a tendency for bunch rot and mildew. To make things worse, the phylloxera epidemic of the 1860s wiped out the majority of vineyards in France, with Malbec being one of the hardest hit.
The final straw came in 1956, when a frost throughout the country wiped out more than 80% of Malbec plantings. The French cried “sacre bleu!” in unison (I’m guessing), and most growers didn’t replant Malbec in their vineyards, preferring the other four more popular Bordeaux red grape varieties. Malbec is still found in small quantities in Bordeaux, where it’s used to add color and tannin to their blends.
The High Note is probably one of the more “available” that I’ve ever reviewed, with it being available from most grocery stores. It’s worth noting that recent vintages of the High Note Malbec have received close to 90 points from the Wine Speculator.
Vista del Sur is a new state-of-the-art winery in the Uco Valley, high in the Andes foothills of Argentina’s famed Mendoza wine-making region. Wineries throughout the world generally use the same equipment for each wine that they produce. However, Vista del Sur designed their winery around only producing Malbec.
Mendoza has come to be known as the first wine region for Argentinean wines. Malbec was introduced (along with Cabernet and Merlot) to Argentina in 1868 from cuttings in Bordeaux, where the grape has thrived ever-since in the warm dry climate.
Mendoza, accounts for 70% of Argentinean wine produced, and 84% of all Argentinean Malbec.
The grapes for High Note are sourced from four different vineyards, ranging in elevation from 3,700 feet to 5,000 feet above sea level, and are some of the highest in the world.
It’s worth noting that wineries in Argentina and Chile take great pride to proclaiming to have the “highest vineyards” in the world.
The excellent drainage experienced in Mendoza, coupled with the high altitude of the vineyards, help reduce vine disease, and provide a long growing season with low yields of small grapes with concentrated flavor, color and tannins.
In terms of body, Malbec falls right between Merlot and Cabernet. The High Note shows red fruit, cassis and smoke on the nose. More in the way of plum, blackberry, mocha, restrained oak and leather on the palate. Easy-drinking, but with enough acidity to make it a great partner for food. Spice, leather, and clove on the fairly chewy finish.
Red sauce pastas, smoked / grilled meats, eggplant, duck, Cajun (with restrained spice), or Italian fare would all work great with the High Note, but this wine has no problem standing on its own two feet.
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