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Today is World Malbec Day; who decides these things? Wasn’t it World Chardonnay Day a few weeks or so back? Wasn’t there a push for a Zinfandel Day late last year and a Sauvignon Sizzle dureing the summer? One forgets… As there are more grape varieties in Italy alone than there are days in a year we could be in for a grape-day tussle eventually! While the active wine-folks on twitter and facebook often support such special ‘days’ simply by opening an appropriate bottle one can’t help wonder exactly who benefits. If such events are little more than marketing promotions little thought or imagination seems to be dedicated to them.

Except for this one instance.

Last April, to celebrate World Malbec Day it was revealed that Kent’s Chapel Down Winery would vinify Argentinean Malbec grapes to make, what would be termed, a “Kent Malbec”.

The project was designed to be an opportunity for Chapel Down to get experience of new grapes, new techniques and put an English spin on one of the world’s most popular styles of wine.

The grapes, air-freighted to the English winemaker by Wines of Argentina from the Gaucho estate near Mendoza, were fermented slightly cooler than is traditional in Argentina [as Chapel Down wine-maker Andrew Parley was conscious some intercellular maceration would have taken place in transit] before the wine was matured in new American oak for nine months.

The result is a sublime ‘big red’ wine (abv 14%) with a blackcurrant, blueberry and raspberry nose, silky tannins and a long finish of berry fruit and garrigue herbs.

It’s a great match for a grilled Argentinean steak or a lovely bit of English lamb.

I’ve been sent a bottle but have decided to give it horizontally positioned on the wine rack for a few years (five perhaps?) as they reckon that while it is “ready to drink now” it would also be a “Great Keeper, benefitting from cellaring for up to 10 years”.

“An English Salute”, as the wine has been named has its official launch day today – World Malbec Day.

According to European Union laws the bottle doesn’t contain wine and thus it has to be referred to as a “fruit based alcoholic beverage”.

In fact they can’t even call it a Malbec because, while no one is disputing that the grapes are Malbec and were grown in Argentina, this “beverage” has been made in England. Chapel Down can’t sell it either. Instead it will be giving away this “fruit derived alcoholic beverage from produce sourced outside the European Union”.

Interested oenophiles will need to buy some of Chapel Down’s own award-winning English sparkling wine to secure a bottle of “An English Salute” but, says Frazer Thompson the Chapel Down CEO:

“This is a chance for fans of English and Argentinian wine to get their hands on something that is genuinely unique.

“English wine in general is going to be in short supply this year but this wine will be in even shorter supply.

“It will, quite literally, be impossible to buy.

“We’ve had loads of enquiries from buyers about the wine, but I’m afraid that we can’t sell it, only give it away as samples.

“So we have decided to do just that.”

To buy some delicious Chapel Down wine and claim your very own limited edition bottle of An English Salute, visit www.chapeldown.com

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