Malbec is a red wine grape varietal that has traditionally been a blending grape in the red wines of Bordeaux and southwest France. Over the last decade, Malbec has emerged as the leading red-wine grape varietal in Argentina.
The aromas and flavors of Malbec can frequently offer layers of dried black fruits (blackberry, black cherry, black currant, and plum), floral (violet and rose), bakeshop (toffee, cinnamon, chocolate, coffee, and anise) and tobacco shop.
Malbec is a deeply intense colored grape (particularly in the New World) and is often medium-bodied with medium tannin, medium acidity, and high levels of alcohol. The Malbec from France tends to provide a less colored and slightly “green” tannic sensation—often thought of as a somewhat rustic style of wine. However, the grape clusters of Argentine Malbec show differently than their French counterpart. Argentine Malbec shows smaller berries (therefore greater color pigment) in smaller grape clusters—coupled with the New World’s love affair with hang-time and greater extraction during fermentation— produces more concentrated wine with richer mouthfeel and softer tannins.
Malbec is the dominant red varietal in the Cahors (cah- OHR) appellation where it’s locally known as Côt Noir—located in southwest France. This varietal also plays a minor role in the blended red wines of Bordeaux, France. Malbec was introduced to Argentina in 1868, producing a softer, less tannic-driven variety than the wines of Cahors or Bordeaux. Mendoza—the large growing region in Argentina has emerged as the popular and very fashionable world producer of Malbec. Smaller amounts of this grape are found in the Loire Valley and California’s North Coast region, where it is blended in the New World versions of the classic red Bordeaux wines.