Also known as Cot or Auxerrois, Malbec is a grape variety that has seen an unbelievable rise in popularity in the past 15 years.
This is without doubt thanks to Argentina with which Malbec has become inseparably linked. It has become so associated with Argentina that many believe that’s where the grape variety is originally from.
Let us help you discover the wonderful world of Malbec.
How do you pronounce Malbec?
It’s an easy one to pronounce… Mal-beck
Where does it comes from?
Malbec is originally from the South-West of France, from the region of Cahors to be more precise.
It has also had a very important part in the wines of Bordeaux although it is much less used in blends today compared to what it was in the past.
As you probably know Malbec has found a home away from home in Argentina, where it was introduced in the late 1800s’.
What does it smell like?
The main aromas are black cherry, blueberry and plum.
With oak ageing, the wines develop aromas those of cedar and leather, smoke and liquorice.
What does it taste like?
French Malbecs, from Cahors, have high acidity and tannin with medium sweetness and generally a low to medium oakiness.
Argentinian Malbecs however are will be lower in acidity and tannin and slightly higher in sweetness and often in oak.
Typically Malbec from Cahors will have great ageing potential, thanks to its greater tannin and acidity levels.
What food to pair with Malbec?
The high tannin content makes it ideal for pairing with meat, especially red meat. Malbec, whether from Cahors, Argentina or elsewhere in the world is intense in taste, so you’re going to need dishes to stand up to it.
Game can also be a perfect match. And so can duck!
Watch out for spicy food as the high tannin will clash with the spiciness.
Malbec is also a very good match to meat stews and other rich stew such as Cassoulet.
One tip I always give is: to regional food, regional wine.
So if I’m having a Cahors, I’ll go for a duck confit or a cassoulet. While if I am having a big Argentinian Malbec, I recommend a grilled or barbecued cut of local beef.
Where are the best regions for Malbec?
There are some great Malbecs outside France and Argentina.. Chile is starting to produce some lovely wines, and so is Australia.
But if you want the very best, then it has to be France and Argentina.
Cahors in France for its old world style of more rugged wines.
Wines from the provinces of Mendoza and Salta in Argentina for their richness, intensity and smoothness.
What tastes similar?
If you enjoy Malbec, I would definitely recommend another tannic grape variety called Tannat.
Just like Malbec, the best wines come from France and South America.
In France, try Madiran wines while if you’re looking for smoother Malbecs, you should definitely give Tannat from Uruguay a go.
Another rather off the beaten track grape variety you could go to is Petit Verdot. Like Malbec, Petit Verdot is also used in Bordeaux blends. It is a very difficult grape variety to grow, but if you enjoy big Argentinian Malbecs I definitely recommend you give Californian or Australian Petit Verdot a go!
What are the best Malbec wines?
In my top 5 Malbecs to taste I have:
Nicasia Vineyard from Catena Zapata in Mendoza (is this the best Argentinian wine?) is an absolutely unbelievable wine that deserves to be in the world’s best wines without a doubt.
Finca Altamira from Achaval Ferrer in Mendoza is big and shows great complexity, while being so approachable at the same time.
Reserva Malbec from Colomé in Salta is unreal… So much happening, so much finesse and freshness in a big, big wine (this is the highest winery in the world)
Lou Prince from Domaine du Prince is just a beast of intensity and concentration
K2 from Chateau Troteligotte is sumptuous, very much elegant and refined