Malbec

Malbec
(Andrew and Carrie Purcell)

[MAHL-bek]

Characteristics

Malbec originated in Southwest France, where it's also known as Côt; it is still the main grape in the area's top appellation, Cahors. It was once a significant blending partner in Bordeaux's reds, but has largely fallen out of favor there. Farther north in France, it has a presence in the Loire Valley. However, Malbec today is most associated with Argentina, where it has become the signature red grape. It's also grown in other New World regions, including Chile and Australia.

Malbec is mid-ripening, has thick skins and small, concentrated dark purple berries that make for structured, full-bodied wines. The grape thrives in several soil types, but has shown an affinity for limestone, as well as clay and sand. In the vineyard, common threats include frost, rot and coulure, making dry conditions ideal.

In general, Malbec shows a range of black and red fruit, including plum and raspberry, as well as rich notes of chocolate and licorice, and some herbal and spice accents. Cahors Malbec tends to have hefty tannins and can be quite rustic and savory. Argentina's Malbecs are typically lusher, with softer tannins and juicier fruit.

Where it's grown

A map of the world with Argentina, France, Chile and Australia highlighted
Map by Henry Eng
France: Cahors in Southwest France; Bordeaux; Loire Valley

Malbec icons

  • Argentina: Achával-Ferrer, Bodega Catena Zapata, Viña Cobos, Cuvelier Los Andes, Viña Doña Paula
  • Cahors: Château du Cèdre, Clos Triguedina, Château de Haute-Serre, Château Lagrézette

Suggested food pairings

  • Argentina: grilled flank steak with chimichurri sauce
  • France: cassoulet

Malbec fans may also like

Know Your Grapes Red Wines Malbec Argentina France

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