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Sunday 4 September 2016

A joint passion for malbec leads to a new business

Malbec is a grape variety that can arouse great passion. It is loved in Argentina and Chile, admired in France and Australia and is pretty much a curiosity everywhere in the wine world.

On a trip with Wines of Argentina last year, I learned that it can be made in many different styles - and in a range of terroir, although they shine in Mendoza (below).

This dark grape originates in France, where it was primarily used as a blending grape in the country’s famous Bordeaux reds. Cahors in the south of France was the first commercial producer of the variety but in the late-19th century, phylloxera nearly destroyed the wine industry, although today it is undergoing something of a renaissance. 

Cahors achieved AOC status and has been gaining momentum ever since. In Cahors, Malbec is called "Cot" or "Auxerrois" and was called “black wine” due its colour. 

Malbec was brought to Argentina in 1852 by Michel Pouget, a French agronomist and it is today Argentina's flagship variety.

Australia has some of the oldest malbec vines in the world, dating back to the late 1890s and each April 17 World Malbec Day is celebrated around the globe; an initiative developed by Wines of Argentina.

My trip to Argentina was partly organised by a charming lady called Daniela Penno, an Argentine who runs a PR business in Sydney. 

Now she and her husband, German Fumis, have launched Artisan Malbec, a wine club and retail outlet that aims to make it easier for Australians to access world-class malbec; and also plans a range of events centred around not only Argentine malbecs but the best from around the world. 

"We are starting, of course, with Argentina but then increasing our offer to Australian, French and Chilean malbecs soon," she says.

"This is a niche business, offering personalised customer service and a project with a lot of passion, effort and dedication from myself and my husband."

Don't expect to be bombarded with PR material, however. Penno aims to grow the business slowly. Prices start from $21 a bottle, so it might be fun to do some malbec exploration.

For full details check out

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