Tannin: Medium to high
Age: Most should be enjoyed within a few years, but the best wines from Cahors age extremely well gaining complexity.
Aka: Also known as Auxerrois and Cot.
Malbec (MAHL-bek) originated in France, but you could be forgiven for thinking that it is native to Argentina, which has adopted this grape variety and done so much to restore its prestige. Introduced into Argentina from France in the mid 19th century, it is now the country’s most important premium red grape variety. Acreage has increased so much that Argentina now produces the majority of Malbec made worldwide.
In its French homeland, and elsewhere, it can be a difficult grape to grow because it is susceptible to disease and rot, but it is perfectly suited to the heat, long hours of sunshine and altitude of Argentina’s main wine regions. Importantly, the dry mountain air in these Argentinian regions means that the vines are virtually disease free. With such favorable growing conditions the most important consideration for winegrowers is not to over-produce Malbec and to ensure they take measures to restrict yields. When they do, the results are extremely impressive.
Malbec makes full bodied wines with a violet bouquet and a dark fruit character of blackberry, cherry and plum, accompanied by notes of spice and tobacco – quite similar to Carmenère but with more depth. Tannin is medium to high, while acidity is low and it takes well to oak aging. However, it expresses itself quite differently across regions, being softer and rounder with riper, richer fruit in Argentina compared to its French stronghold in Cahors, which produces firmer, earthier versions.
Argentina’s success with Malbec has not gone unnoticed and winemakers around the world are taking note, with many adding it to their vineyards. We are sure to see many more excellent wines from this exciting grape.
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