Malbec Matters: A Global Varietal’s Past and Present

                                  William H. Beezley, Department of History, University of Arizona

Thursday, October 15, 2015, 5-7 pm

Sensory Theatre, Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science, UC Davis

Presented by the Center for Wine Economics, Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science and the Hemispheric Institute on the Americas at UC Davis

     Malbec, fish, and Beezley




World renowned author Bill Beezley will present a lecture on "Malbec Matters: A Global Varietal’s Past and Present." This is a joint presentation of the Center for Wine Economics, Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science and the Hemispheric Institute on the Americas at UC Davis. Following the lecture there will be a reception with tasting of Malbec.

Argentine winemakers in the 1980s discovered the potential of the Malbec grape known to Roman troops, at least one Pope, Catherine Great, Eastern Orthodox priests and some tight-fisted French bankers. The Argentines produced a big, bold, tannic spectacular varietal at a moderate price. Their Malbec  wine exploded in the 1990s on the international market and quickly eclipsed in popular perception and sales the Shiraz of Australia and the Cabernets from Chile. The grape originally came from France, of course, from Cahors with its miserly reputation, and it produced the so-called Black Wine used in blending the wines of Bordeaux. Today Argentine Malbec continues to expand its market with increasing competition from a growing number of regions producing it. For the full story and the chance to taste some Malbec, come to the presentation “Malbec Matters.”   

Malbec Matters: A Global History of the Grape and the Wine.
This book project narrates the global history of this grape and the wine it can produce. The narration has five chapters:

1. The earliest history of the grape, its arrival in France and widespread production there, notably in Leon and Cahors

2. Early devotees of Malbec under a different name: A Pope, Peter the Great, Catherine the Great, and Ukrainian Eastern Orthodox priests

3. Cot (that is Malbec) and the European market in the context of competition between Bordeaux and Cahors

4. French grapes come to Chile and Argentina (including Malbec)

5. Malbec becomes the wine of Argentina

The epilogue considers the global presence of Malbec, both as an Argentina wine sold to the world wine market and as new grape being planted and vinified in the US, Chile, Australia, and even with new clones in France, in Leon and, especially, Cahors.

About the Speaker

William H. Beezley has achieved an international reputation for his investigations of Mexico’s history and culture through such publications as the classic Judas at the Jockey Club, other books such as Mexican National Identity: Memories, Innuendos, and Popular Culture, and such fundamental anthologies as A Handbook of Mexican History and Culture and The Oxford History of Mexico, edited with Michael C. Meyer.

He has authored or edited over twenty additional books, including Mexicans in Revolution, written with Colin M. MacLachlan,and Latin American Popular Culture: An Introduction, edited with Linda Curcio-Nagy. His books have been translated into Spanish and Mandarin Chinese.  His interests extend throughout Latin America and to the topics of craft brewing and Malbec wine.  He has appeared as a guest expert in over a dozen PBS episodes of “The Desert Speaks” and “In the Americas with David Yetman.”  He has taught at North Carolina State University and held endowed chairs at TCU and Tulane and visiting positions at Universities of Texas, Calgary, British Colombia and the Colegio de Mexico.

He now teaches at the University of Arizona, directs the Oaxaca (Mexico) Summer Institute in its seventeenth year, sits on the editorial boards of The Americas, Mexican Studies, and University of Santiago (Chile)’s Revista Iberoamericana de Viticultura, Agroindustria y Ruralidad, and serves as a member of  the  technical commission  of "Wines, vines and winemakers: voyages, messages and métissages" at Toulouse University. He is the editor-in-chief of The Oxford Research Encyclopedia for Latin America.

His current research projects investigate “Objects, Episodes, and Latin America’s Lively Arts,” “Porgy & Bess Battle the USSR in Cold War Latin America,” and "Malbec Matters: the History of a Varietal.”






Presented by the Center for Wine Economics, Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science, and the Hemispheric Institute on the Americas at UC Davis.



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