How Is A Traditional Argentine Malbec Made? - VinoApp Wine ClubVinoApp Wine Club

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Written by
Pablo Ponce

Published
April 17, 2020

How Is A Traditional Argentine Malbec Made?

Malbec vine, from Matervini.

Malbec vine, from Matervini.

Malbec is often considered as the national emblem of Argentina’s viticulture, however, there is a plethora of winemaking techniques which makes each Malbec unique. To name a few, distinctive terroirs, contrasting working methods and a wide range of products.

Today, we are going to explore the elaboration process of a traditional Malbec.

Needless to say, this winemaking process is not exclusive for this variety but… to pay homage to Malbec Day we are going to focus exclusively on Malbec!

The day of the harvest is an important event for wine and lays down the foundation for the entire winemaking process. Each winemaker decides his own harvest date which in turn contributes to the quality of the wine. Now, we’ll go over some of the key steps which will take us through the journey of a Malbec.

Harvest at Clos de Chacras

  1. The harvest is manual and usually during the early hours of the morning to protect the fruit from high temperatures. The grape harvest is also customized for each row, which helps in retaining the quality and integrity of each bunch. The use of small cases is also a key factor: they hold from 12 to 15 kilos.
  2. When the case is full, the first quality check is performed in the vineyard. If any leaf or twig falls in, they are discarded. Then, the fruit is transported to the winery.

    Manual selection at Puna Winery

  3. Once there, it is placed on the selection belt. This usually happens in two different stages. First, the best bunches are chosen which are later inserted into the crusher-stemmer. Second: Best grapes are selected.
  4. After that, the grapes are transported through special tubes to the casks where the fermentation occurs. This container can be made of different materials such as concrete, stainless steel or oak.

    Puna winery

  5. Argentine Malbec expresses a floral and red-fruit profile which is boosted when there’s cold maceration before the fermentation. This requires the grapes to be kept at a low temperature in order to avoid the fermentation process (usually 4 hours to a whole day).
  6. Then the components are extracted from the skins via pump-overs and deléstages.
  7. After two weeks approximately, the fermentation process will end and the devatting stage will begin. That is the moment when the liquid phase (just born wine) is separated from the solid phase (seeds and skin). The latter will go to the press to extract and squeeze every single drop out of the grape. During this stage, it is extremely important to ensure that the pressure is not too strong, to avoid crashing the seeds.
  8. Once the wine of the new vintage is obtained, the “polishing” stage begins. It turns out that spending some time in either an American or a French oak barrel suits Malbec finely. It improves its roundness and complexity, especially if the wood is used at the correct level. As you may know, it is more common nowadays to get premium Malbec that has aged in concrete eggs, also oak casks and so many other kinds of containers!

PH: Clos de Chacras

The wide range of production options that Argentina offers gives birth to a wide range of unique Malbecs which can cater to different tastes.

Now, have you ever spoken to a producer to learn how they produce their wines?

If you have some favourites, share it with us and if you don’t, VinoApp Wine Club will give you the opportunity to interact with some of the best local Argentine producers soon! Stay tuned!


Pablo Ponce

@poncetivi

Winemaker graduated at Don Bosco school, wine communicator and editor of the blog www.thebigwinetheory.com

He used to work, from 2005 to 2013, in different wineries in Mendoza, participating in the technical area of elaboration, microbiology, fractionation and quality control. Some of them are La Rural, Familia Zuccardi, Escorihuela Gascón and Finca La Celia. In parallel, since 2010, he began his career as wine communicator. In 2012 he created his blog “The Big Wine Theory” and since then he has collaborated with several digital channels.
He currently works as Wine Communicator of Bodega Gimenez Riili and is responsible for the content management for social networks of Santa Julia Winery, Cassone Family Winery, Benegas Winery, Clos de Chacras Winery, Compuertas Negras Winery, Arpex Argentina and Wine Institute (where he also works as a teacher).

 

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