All About Malbec

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Malbec Information

Pronunciation – “mal-bek”

When we hear Malbec, we think of Argentina, however this grape variety didn’t originate there. Malbec has a longer history, and it came from France. Malbec was grown for centuries in the southwest of the country, mostly in the appellations of Cahors and Bordeaux. 

The grape variety is also grown in the Loire Valley under a different name. Malbec actually has a couple of synonyms, most well known being Cot and Auxerrois. Malbec tends to be deep in color intensity and purple to red in color. The wines change color with age, however Malbec tends to start off with a characteristic color. 

Malbec is mostly used for red wine production. In the old world it tends to produce tannic, heavy reds in Cahors. New world style is more fruit forward, with a bit of chocolate aromas and a significant acidity level. 

Malbec Tasting Notes

Wine tasting notes/flavor profiles

Primary Notes – Black fruit (Black cherry, Blackberry) Blue fruit (Blueberry, Plums) Chocolate

Secondary Notes – Oak (Vanilla, Chocolate)

Tertiary Notes – with age develops leather, coffee, tobacco

Body – Medium bodied most of the times, however it can be full bodied in Cahors

Palate – Sweetness – Dry; Acidity – Medium; Tannin – Medium;

Typical ABV% – 13-15.5% 

Malbec Styles 

Malbec is usually made only as red wine. In Cahors it is produced either as a single varietal red wine or blended with a bit of Merlot, in Bordeaux it is often used in blends on the right bank and in Argentina it is blended with Bonarda, also known as Uva Rara in Italy. 

It will always spend time in oak to ensure that the wine breathes a bit and to soften the tannins. The MLF happens when the wine is oaked and this will give characteristic butter and cream aromas which helps to soften the acidity a bit. 

Malbec Classifications

In France, Malbec is mostly grown in Cahors where it constitutes at least 70% of the wine by law although many times it is produced as a single varietal wine. In the Loire Valley it is used mostly as an addition to blends, and same goes for Bordeaux. 

In Argentina it can be produced both as a single varietal wine or blended with Bonarda however there is no classification for Malbec itself, as it can be varietally labeled. However it is grown mostly in Mendoza and the sub regions of Lujan de Cuyo and Uco Valley. 

When To Drink Malbec

Malbec can be an everyday wine but it can also be a wine that you can age and keep for a special occasion. When it comes to meat, try having it with beef, lamb, pork shoulder or darker poultry. When it comes to cheese pairings, go for funky and salty cheeses. 

Malbec Serving Temperature – Fahrenheit 64ºF (18 ºC)

Best Years To Drink Malbec

Now this does depend where the wine comes from and the producer, however most good Malbecs can go well past 10 years of age. The old world wines have more aging potential while the new world ones tend to age a bit faster. 

Malbec Nutrition Facts

Malbec tends to have about 135 calories per glass with about 5-6g of carbs. In a bottle expect to have 690 calories and 30g of carbs at least. 

Fun Facts About Malbec

Malbec originated in France, however Argentina is the biggest producer now. 

Malbec has a very deep purple color, but its tell in a blind tasting is the magenta tinged rim.

Most of the time, you will see a lot of color extraction in tainted tears or legs on the glass.

Malbec is grown at some of the highest altitude vineyards in the world.


Pairing Food With Malbec

Malbec Grape Information

Merlot vs Malbec