It's no wonder that Malbec has become one of the most popular grape varieties in the world today. The grape yields a wine that is dark, ripe, and powerful while still remaining easy to drink. It's one of the reasons that Casillero del Diablo has made their Malbec a pillar of the winery’s line-up. The hard work has paid off as the Malbec from Casillero del Diablo was recently awarded 91 points by James Suckling, showing that the winery's commitment to quality and sustainability is worth the effort.

 

The origin and history of Malbec

Most American wine drinkers associate Malbec with South America. For many, the first thought may be the wines of Argentina. Evidence suggests that Malbec was planted in Chile before any other place in South America. Given the fact that Malbec is one of the five grapes grown in Bordeaux, this makes perfect sense. Starting in the mid-19th century, the Central Valley of Chile (Valle Central) began to be known as the Bordeaux of South America for the popularity of the grapes planted there from the famous French region. As a result, the history of Malbec in Chile is long and prolific. In fact, the first Malbec vines to be imported to Argentina almost certainly came by way of mule track over the Andes from Chile!

While Malbec’s relationship with South America and its association with Bordeaux are well-known, the grape was actually first grown in a lesser-known region of Southwest France - Cahors. This region is the birthplace of the grape and where many aficionados point as the most representational expression of the variety. Chilean winemakers have noted that the climate of Chile is much more similar to that of Cahors than the climate of Argentina. For many, this has lead to the unique Chilean expression of Malbec that is more closely aligned to its place of origin.

 

Casillero del Diablo Malbec - unique and balanced

At Casillero del Diablo, Malbec is planted in Valle Central. Here, the sunny, mild Mediterranean climate is an ideal location for the grape, which tends to need a bit more sun and heat to grow than Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot. The alluvial soils (moved by water) of the region offer excellent drainage and mirror the soils of Cahors in France. Winemaker Sebastian Rodriguez has applied his rigorous standard of sustainable agriculture to the estate’s plantings of Malbec. 

The flavor profile of Casillero del Diablo’s Malbec is representative of most of those from Chile. They fall in between the two most famous examples of the grape: Argentina and France. This makes for the best of both worlds! While Casillero del Diablo’s Malbec has many of the popular “Argentine” elements of the grape including dark, ripe fruits like blackberry and plum along with elements of cocoa powder and violets, it also provides more of the black pepper, spice, and savory seriousness of French Malbecs. It is another example of Chile’s unique position as a mid-point between the Old and New World. Given the 500 year history of grape growing in the country, this should come as no surprise!

 

Malbec's versatile flavors 

The possibilities of pairings for Casillero del Diablo’s Malbec are varied. One of the classic pairings will be any grilled meats, including steak, sausages, and kebabs. With its blue fruit sweetness and smooth tannins, this Malbec can go well with earthy flavors like cassoulet, beef stew, or roast duck. But Malbec isn’t just for meat; it can be a perfect pairing for roasted vegetables or a vegan stir fry with plenty of mushrooms! While pairing with foods is wonderful, the easiest and quickest way to appreciate the wine is just drinking a glass on its own!