Australia’s Growing Love Affair With Malbec

Stamp printed in Australia shows the CoonawarraPeople will fly thousands of miles and cross oceans to visit the winelands of Australia.

I know. I made that trip several years ago, and my body clock is still recovering from it.

But I’m not complaining. That was a fun trip. I tasted a lot of great wine, survived driving on the “wrong side” of the road, and toured the iconic Sydney Opera House.

I also learned that you should not try to jam too many areas of Australia into a single trip, because Australia is a big country. Really big.

My main memory of the Australian people (broad generalization alert!) is that they are free thinkers. Even though world-class wines are crafted in a number of the country’s growing areas, the Aussies love to try wines from “new places.” Not traditional winemaking countries such as France or Italy, necessarily, but countries like Chile and Argentina.

It took a few years, but I now finally have proof that my observation was correct. According to this report in The Drinks Business, exports of wines from Argentina to Australia have increased 400% in just four years.

“Argentina is benefiting from consumers’ search for something different, and this is seeing us pick up market share,” Andrew Maidment, Europe and Asia head of Wines of Argentina, told The Drinks Business. “This growth has been organic and not prompted by significant changes in policies such as free trade agreements or other outside influences.”

So what’s behind the growth?

Maidment says it is the Aussies’ openness to wines from other countries. So while sales of more traditional varieties have declined, sales of Malbec — Argentina’s signature red wine — have been soaring.

During my Down Under visit, I was too busy trying to immerse myself in all-things-Australian to drink Malbec from Argentina. But looking back, I now realize I missed out on a real food-and-wine pairing treat.

Malbec would have been a perfect pairing partner for a savory Australian meat pie filled with beef, onions, garlic and gravy.

Now, I’m planning another road trip — one that won’t involve any sleep deprivation or harrowing left-side-of-the-street driving. There’s a place in Costa Mesa, Calif., called Pie-Not that serves a number of Aussie-style gourmet pies.

I can’t wait to have one of those hand-held pies in one hand and a glass of Argentine Malbec in the other.

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Tomorrow: Don’t let today’s blog discourage you from exploring the winelands of Australia. In that country’s Pyrenees region, wine tasting can be a wild experience — really wild.

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