Malbec wine comes from a red grape variety, originally from France but best known as the varietal flagship of Argentina. French plantations of Malbec are primarily found in Cahors, South West France. Most famously part of the Bordeaux variety, Malbec is often incorporated into more complex red blends. It is one of the 6 grape varieties allowed when blending red Bordeaux. Single varietal bottling of Malbec is rare, but some blends feature more Malbec in their makeup than others.
Dark, inky red with medium to robust tannins, Malbec has deep, rich fruity flavors like blackberry, plum, ripe raspberry and black cherry. Heavier oaken varieties have a smokey character with aromas of tobacco, leather, and dark chocolate. If you like a full-bodied red wine with large components of Shiraz or Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec is the wine for you.
A Short History of the Origins of Malbec
Malbec is the name given to a French purple grape variety grown in the south of France used for the making of red wine. There are two varieties of Malbec grown in the Cahors region of France – one in Gaillac and one in Mortpellier.
Malbec is sometimes called “Pressac” after one of the two producers, Mr. Pressac and Mr. Malbeck, who first produced this variety. It is also sometimes called Côt, Auxxerois, Cahors or Gaillac. The most famous producers of Malbec are Bodedgas Piedra Negra, Bodegas Septime, Domaine Jean Bousquet, Mariflor, Gabriel Vigouroux, Yacochuya, and Selentein.
The Malbec grape variety can now be found growing in areas all around the world. Because Malbec grapes flourished in Argentina to such an extent that it became better known than the original grapes from Cahors in France, it forced the region to produce better wines and as a result the grape-growing region of Cahors has grown significantly.
Today Malbec is successfully produced in 7 countries in the world:
– Argentina grows the most with 76,700 hectares of Malbec in 3 main regions: San Juan, Salta, and Mendoza.
– France with the second largest production of 15,000 hectares in 3 main regions: Loire Valley, Bordeaux, and South-East France
– United States of America where 3,500 hectares are produced in 3 main regions: Washington, California, and Oregon.
– Chile has 2,500 acres of Malbec in 3 main regions: Cachapoal, Colchaga, and Curicó.
– South Africa is the 5th largest producer with 1,100 hectares.
– Australia also has about 1,100 hectares of Malbec mainly in Victoria and South Australia.
– New Zealand has only 200 hectares in 2 main regions: Hawkes Bay and Gisborne.
Although the Malbec grape variety is produced all over the world, it is highly susceptible to weather conditions. It does not like wet climates and prefers clay-limestone or calcareous soil. It is also highly sensitive to cold and frost and full sun is important for the ripening process. Because of its fine skin, the grape matures mid-season.
The different tastes of Malbec wine depends on the climate and the type of crop. If harvested before being fully matured, it will have a fruity taste. If grown in a cold climate it has a taste of cherry while cooler climates produce more of a raspberry flavor. In an ambient climate it develops the taste of plums and in a warm climate it tastes more like blackberries.
As the heart of the Argentinian industry, Malbec World Day is celebrated each year on the 17th April in Argentina which also represents the date on which President Domingo Faustino Sarmiento is famously known to have transformed the Argentine wine industry.
Malbec goes will with many dishes, particularly dishes prepared with red meat, mushrooms, and cumin spices as well as roasted vegetables. It goes well with blue cheese, goat’s milk and most cows’ milk cheeses.