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Mulling over Malbec.

In re-reading Lance Cutler's "Making Malbec" (October 2007), I notice that you pose some interesting questions as a conclusion. I would like to propose a few answers. They may not be technically correct but as a long-term Malbec fan, I believe that I can speak with some authority. I do believe that the French and Argentine grapes have evolved in quite different ways owing to terroir, but underneath, they are the same grape and have most of the same characteristics.

To your question "Can California produce Malbec as good as that being produced in Argentina?" my answer is a resounding "no." They can produce an internationally styled wine that might sell, but will not represent great Malbec. The climate, soil and winemaking philosophy in California preclude their reaching the level of the better Argentine or French Malbecs.

Argentine Malbec sales start to lag above $30, and do not show any strength again until they reach stratospheric numbers for the internationally acclaimed fruit bombs. That will change as people recognize that the truly great Malbecs are the "lovely, feminine beauty" that you allude to.

Mickey Vail

Frontier Wine Imports

Dover, N.J.

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Title Annotation:READERS' MAIL
Author:Vail, Mickey
Publication:Wines & Vines
Article Type:Letter to the editor
Date:Dec 1, 2007
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