Wednesday, April 20, 2011

We Celebrate Malbec Day by Drinking 20 Types

This past weekend marked Malbec World Day, a celebration of Argentina’s premier wine varietal.  Malbec is like Argentina’s Celine Dion.  Hear it out: it’s the country’s universally known export that is commonplace on wine menus and LCBO aisles as often as you hear ‘My Heart Will Go On’.  Despite the mainstream prevalence - just like Celine - you can’t deny it’s actually good and can’t help but relate to its melodic accessibility.   That being said, the Malbec got its Vegas-calibre headlining show in Toronto at Club V, courtesy of the iYellow Wine Club.  Forget the boring ‘tasting table’ seminar. 20 Argentinean wines for the tasting, a hot Yorkville room and South American-inspired mini-eats were the perfect conditions for learning about wine the hip + urban way.
IYellow Wine Club, founded by Angela Aiello (also a past hip + urban girl of the week), “gets it” when it comes to developing a wine culture in an urban environment.  Wine is supposed to be social and fun...why let pretension and wine snobs get in the way?  iYellow, which started as a wee blog (just like us!) a few years ago, is now a 5000-strong community of wine-loving members that learn and taste via wine schools at The Drake, by online-savvy conversations through social media and YouTube; as well as, monthly organized social events and tours introducing the Toronto masses to wine regions and styles.  This month Malbec, next month Australia!  Travelling the globe with wine is easy with iYellow’s events and classes.

Now back to Malbec.  The hot and dry climate in Argentina is ideal growing grounds for a wine that is sweetly tannic, plummy and juicily robust; making it both easy drinking and food-friendly.  Its shining quality is the versatility and accessibility.  It finds itself just as comfortably on a white-clothed table next to a fancy plate of meat, as it is at home with a pizza.  Although Malbec is Argentina’s national gem, it is produced globally (hence, Malbec world day); the grape is grown in several French wine regions, most notably Cahors from south western France.  But let’s not forget the BEST thing about this varietal – the value.  All this versatility and robustness packed into a bottle that never breaks the bank.  There are many options available on the market of Malbec , including a myriad of blends and organic labels; all of which are accessible in character and quality-price value, making it easy to taste and try many with little commitment.   Try a Malbec at home with steak or barbecued meats, pizza and pasta.
So after 20 wines tasted at Malbec World Day, it’s easy take away an understanding of what makes the characteristic of Malbec special.  Yes, learning accomplished!  A few gems were found.  Organic wine (aka. wine you can feel good about drinking) is always a good thing.  The Santa Julia Organica Malbec ($12.95) is full of pink-purple fruits and light enough to be sessionable for glass after glass, but with adequate structure to be enjoyed with heavy meats; a great pairing for lamb.  Another stand-out tasting was actually not a Malbec – not even a red wine!  Torrontes, the national white wine of Argentina has been billed the ‘next Pinot Grigio’ with its similarities of youthful fruit and flowers.  The Tilia Torrontes ($12.95) is a great example of the style; crisp and light with a hint of peach pits and leaves.  Great for summer and is easy drinking on its own.  Both wines can be found at your local LCBO.

If you’re looking to learn more about Malbec and wine, check out iYellow online and on YouTube.  Thanks to iYellow and Club V for making wine hip and accessible.  Check out their next event featuring Australian wines in May at 99 Sudbury, check out for more info. --- Michelle Tham

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