(Wine Enthusiast) Argentina’s most adaptable grape migrant, Malbec (original birth place: Cahors, France) is responsible for securing the country’s place on the global wine map. Transplanted to Mendoza by French agronomist Michel Aimé Pouget in 1852, this bold red effortlessly adapted to Andean terroir and captured drinkers’ hearts with its berry aromas, juicy flavors and smooth tannins. Malbec has adapted to Argentina’s diverse latitudes, from the northwest Jujuy Province down to Patagonia’s Río Negro and Neuquén provinces in the south.
But there’s more to Malbec beyond the wines you’re familiar with. As Malbec World Day grips the globe, with tastings, pop-ups, and an array of events lined up every year on April 17, we take a look at four new ways to drink Malbec—from a vermouth to gin—that showcase just how versatile this humble grape from Southwest France can truly be.
Rolando Hilbing, Argentina’s first Master Distiller, picked up a bronze medal for his eponymous London Dry gin at Austria’s Destillata 2018 distilling contest—a gin that has Malbec raisins at its core.
After studying enology at Germany’s Geisenheim University in the 1970s, Hilbing returned home to Argentina to work in the wine industry. In 2000, the opportunity to start his own boutique spirits company arose, and Hilbing Franke Family Distillery was born. Basing spirits on Malbec was an obvious choice, as the red grape practically courses through Hilbing’s veins.
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