When customers ask me where the Malbecs are,  I always respond with another question— Argentinian or French?  They look at me quizzically, as though I have no idea what I’m talking about.  I could respond the same way if they asked about Tannat, but no one ever inquires about that wonderful grape.Many grapes originate in one country but later are found to grow wonderfully in another country and often result in wines completely different from the originals. These wines are fun to compare in “terroir tastings.”

Malbec is an excellent example. This grape originated in Cahors, France and is grown throughout Bordeaux. It’s one of the five grapes that can be blended into the great wines from that region. Wines from Cahors consist mostly of Malbec with a small contribution from another varietal, usually Merlot. These wines are complex, structured with layers of fruit and moderate to fairly big tannins.  Nice examples are Chateau Saint Sernin, Clos La Coutale and Domaine de Cause, all under $20.00. Malbec was later brought to Argentina where it produces massively fruit forward, low tannin wines of medium complexity that are easy drinking, user friendly, and inexpensive. Good examples to try are Durigutti, Renacer Punto Final and  Catena.

Carmenere originated in France and is known as the “forgotten Bordeaux varietal.” It is the sixth grape that is allowed to be blended into Bordeaux, although it has nearly disappeared from that region due to difficulty...

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