By Alejandro Iglesias (Sommelier AAS)
Each year, Malbec World Day (MWD) conquers new areas of a world in love with the flavour that our viticulture’s most representative grape variety offers. Eight years after its first edition initiated by Wines of Argentina (WofA), #MWD2018 showed impressive figures such as 120 events in 100 cities in 60 countries, and on social media the hashtag #MalbecArgentino was tagged by 25 million accounts. This phenomenon made us realise Malbec is a wine enjoyed and celebrated worldwide.
For this eighth edition, Wines of Argentina, supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Argentine Investment and International Trade Agency, provincial governments and the Argentine Viticulture Corporation (COVIAR), proposed "You know me and you don’t" as a motto, referring to the constant development and evolution of styles and origins the variety has to show to the world. This communication link was accompanied by seminars, workshops, fairs and virtual wine tastings that allowed us to show the world that Malbec has plenty to tell.
Buenos Aires and the kick-off to celebrations
The beginning of international festivities took place in the city of Buenos Aires with an exclusive event at Presidente. The Recoleta-based bar was prepared for the occasion with a wine fair comprising 20 wineries and in addition, bartender Sebastián García designed a cocktail menu with Malbec as the special ingredient. It was an evening where industry officials, sommeliers, journalists and celebrities gathered to enjoy a drink and even participated in making cocktails at the bar.
On 17th April, harvest festivities moved to the heart of Corrientes Avenue, more precisely to San Martín Theatre. In a joint initiative by Bodegas de Argentina, the Argentine Viticulture Corporation, the Viticulture Fund of Mendoza, Ente de Mendoza tourism agency and the government of the City of Buenos Aires, numerous figures from national government, provincial governments and wine industry representatives came together under the motto "It's better with wine. Drink it how you like it". Together they enjoyed the play "Luján Eje del Mundo" (Luján, the Axis of the World), a piece recreating the traditional Harvest Festival celebrated in the department of Luján de Cuyo performed by the National Folkloric Ballet. During the performance, shown for the first time to the public, it was also possible to taste numerous wines from Mendoza that embody the Malbec revolution in the world.
At the same time Buenos Aires city celebrated Malbec Week with a wide range of activities, discounts and benefits in different wineries and wine bars.
Prophet of the Land
As expected under the Malbec banner, local wine regions organised an array of events. In the province of Mendoza, wineries enthused the public with open-door activities, special menus in their restaurants and other exciting proposals.
Initiated by the Wine Fund of Mendoza, Malbec Week was celebrated at La Enoteca wine shop with initiatives such as the “Arte and Malbec” exhibition, a special presentation on Pouget, a pioneer of Malbec in Argentina, a Malbec wine tasting with food pairings, a special edition of high-altitude Malbec and an educational trip called "Learning and teaching – The culture of the grapevine and wine". Festivities ended in a closing event with Street Art and Malbec in the boardwalk of Sarmiento Street in the middle of the City of Mendoza.
MWD in numbers
Malbec is not only Argentina’s emblematic grape, it is synonymous with the country as an ambassador in the world and has represented the Argentine wine industry for the past 20 years thanks to its strong character. "Daily searches on the Internet of the word ‘Malbec’ surpass tango, Argentine meat, Messi and even Maradona", according to Alberto Arizu, president of WofA, in a bid to show the Malbec phenomenon in the world.
Currently, Malbec represents 18% of total wine production in Argentina with 40,400 hectares planted, 35% of red varieties and 56% of total wine exports.
The United States is the main export market with 38% in terms of volume. That is why New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Texas, Nashville and other cities were key partners in the celebrations of the grape varietal with tastings, exhibitions, wine festivals, gastronomy and educational activities with sommeliers. In Canada, which represents 8.9% of Malbec exports, events were held in Quebec, British Columbia, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Vancouver with educational seminars and wine tastings.
The United Kingdom, the second-largest country importing our wines with 16% in terms of volume, was also one of the places chosen for festivities along with other European countries where 23 celebrations were held in cities such as Prague, Rica, Moscow, Manchester, Edinburgh and Copenhagen. In Latin America, 43 celebrations were held in cities such as Rio de Janeiro, Bogotá, Lima, Sao Paulo, Mexico City, Cartagena and Asunción. Contests, weekend wine fairs, seminars, dinners and premium tastings took place.
Finally, the international agenda finished with 17 events between China, Japan and Thailand held in cities such as Shanghai, Hong Kong, Xiamen, Shenzhen, among others. Additionally seven other events were held in Africa and nine in Oceania based in Australia and New Zealand.
10 highlights of a record MWD
These are some of the activities organized by Wines of Argentina during the Malbec celebrations in the world:
1. Napa Valley, Denver and Tampa. Three master classes with tasting of 44 wines by Napa Valley Wine Academy.
2. San Francisco. Master class with tasting of 13 wines by Evan Goldstein MS.
3. Virtual Tasting of five different Malbecs by Christy Canterbury MW reaching 978,060 Twitter accounts with the hashtag #MalbecArgentino.
4. Canada. Tasting of 21 wines for the Wine Align tasting panel with the participation of David Lawrason, John Szabo MS, Michael Godel, Sara d'Amato, Steve Thurlow, Janet Dorozynski and Margaret Swaine.
5. Denmark, Finland and Norway. Master classes by Paz Levinson.
6. Finland. Seminar by Alberto Arizu, president of WofA.
7. China. Educational activities in 30 universities in different cities and provinces throughout the Chinese Territory to celebrate MWD aimed at more than thousand students.
8. Sao Paulo, Brazil. Wine fair for sommeliers, journalists, bloggers, influencers, restaurateurs and the general public.
9. Mexico. Dinners, wine and food pairings for opinion and trade leaders with different styles of Malbec and live artistic performances.
10. Buenos Aires. Official launch of MWD events in Presidente Bar, with the presence of journalists, opinion leaders and influencers.
Celebrations on a high level
From my point of you, I assure you I participated in the best Malbec World Day celebrations on the planet: a trip to the Malbec vineyards in the Quebrada de Humahuaca located at an altitude between 2,400 and 3,000 metres; raising a toast with Andrés Rosberg and other guests was the highlight. This journey with members of the Association of Bodegas de Quebrada de Humahuaca allowed us to observe the potential of our emblematic grape variety and understand the expression of the grape varietal in each corner of Jujuy’s first Geographical Indication.