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
Suggested food pairings
For more on Malbec
- Argentina: Modern Malbecs
- Proof of Terroir? Researchers Dig Deep into Argentine Malbec
- France's Southern Frontier
- A Locomotive in Cahors
- Mendoza vintage chart