2009 Zonte's Footsteps Violet Beauregard Langhorne Creek Malbec

Malbec Grapes
One of the five grapes permitted in Bordeaux blends, Malbec was until 1956 a significant variety in south-west France. The great frost of that year put pay to the oldest vines there and now like Petit Verdot, takes a back seat to the Cabernet brothers Sauvignon and Franc and their mate Merlot. Most vignerons replaced the disease-prone Malbec with more resilient and economically viable alternatives. 

The predominant plantings in France are now found in the Cahors region where Appellation Controllee regulations require a 70% minimum content, Merlot and Tannat usually supplementing the remainder. In that southern region of Bordeaux it goes under the names Cot, Cot Noir or Auxerrois. 

Documented evidence suggests that Malbec has over 1000 synonyms, a legacy of widespread plantings at its peak in 30 different departments of France. It is interesting to note that the name Auxerrois in other regions such as Alsace is an entirely different grape variety. This synonym however may also suggest a hint as to its origins in a town of the same name in northern Burgundy and not as it is recorded, the Cahors region. 

Since the late 1980's Malbec has become Argentina's signature variety thriving in the hot, high altitude Mendoza Valley in the country's west where it avoids vineyard moulds and diseases that had pestered it in Bordeaux. Perhaps not as popular as the maestro Lionel Messi, it has however single-handedly put Argentina on the world's wine stage producing wines of different styles and price points. As its most widely planted variety Malbec or Fer as it is known there, has become the equivalent to the story of Australian shiraz.

If there was a spinoff in the Australian context, Malbec's resurgence, if that is what you call it, has been slow since its heyday a couple of decades ago when it was used primarily in Cabernet or Shiraz blends. With more knowledge nowadays about the health benefits of dark-skinned grapes such as Malbec and Tannat and with the efforts of entrepreneurial and enthusiastic vintners, the future appears positive for Malbec as a varietal wine in Australia.  

Malbec is found in vineyards throughout the mainland states and has thrived at Langhorne Creek for decades.  Zonte's Footstep's first 100% Malbec release packs a real wallop of blueberry. Glass staining opaque purple with an intense nose of smokey dark cherry, plum fruit, violets and the ubiquitous blueberries. Beside the stains, in the mouth you get big dark fruit and rich chocolate flavours playing centre stage. Full, well-rounded with a spicy edge to it that is softened by gentle, velvety tannins. Lingering, fruity finish. A touch flabby in texture and a little too much heat are my only concerns. Nonetheless, this is a wine that is certainly not backward in coming forward !  

Source: Retail Purchase. Alcohol: 14.5%. Closure: Screwcap. Rating: 88 Points.
Website: http://www.zontesfootstep.com.au/

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