Malbrontes – Malbec and What?

A red wine made with white grapes. Sounds unlikely? White grapes have long been used as part of red wine production. It may be pretty obvious that to make a red wine you need the colour from the red grape skins but there is nothing stopping you from adding a little white too. This used to be common practice in Chianti but the choice of grapes impacted the quality so the practice is no longer so common. In the Rhone valley in France the white grape Viognier is often added to Syrah to make the famous wines from Côte Rôtie. In Australia they even make a point of it and put the blend on the label and I’ve heard of many wine producers who experiment with different ways of introducing white grapes into their red wines. One Australian producer put some of his Shiraz into a barrel that had formerly held Chardonnay. He left the fine lees (deposit) in the barrel and the result was an added richness and creaminess to the Shiraz.

It is important to state that this is not about blending red and white wine together, that would mean ending up with a rosé or very light red. Making a red wine this way means you have to ferment the red and white grapes together. The idea is to get plenty of colour and extraction during the fermentation, but combined with a lightness and freshness from the white grapes. Malbrontes is just such a wine even though it does sound more like a long-forgotten character from Jurassic Park. It combines in more than name two of Argentina’s best known grapes. The fragrant Torrontés adds a fresh and floral element to the juicy, rich spiciness of the Malbec. I was sceptical at first but this wine quickly won me over. It has the chunky blackberry fruit from the Malbec but the Torrontés makes the whole thing seem fresher and softer and it’s seriously easy-drinking. You can even chill it down slightly and make it a perfect partner to a barbecue.

Wine Searcher gives an up to date list of where you can get this wine.