A fantastic alternative to Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah, Malbec is a thick-skinned red grape that originated in France, where it's known as Côt. Found in Bordeaux blends alongside Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Petit Verdot, Malbec tends to have notes of red plum, blackberry, vanilla, sweet tobacco, and cocoa. Fantastic on its own, Malbec is also remarkable when partnered with blue cheese, mushroom burgers, duck, and even desserts like tiramisu.
Malbec was never considered a top varietal in France, so when severe frost wiped out tons of Malbec vines in 1956, winemakers didn’t bother replanting as many. Instead, they dedicated those acres to more popular grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. With a total acreage of just over 97,000, Argentina was Malbec’s saving grace as they account for 75% of those acres. Where French Malbecs tend to be a bit more savory with subtle spice, Argentinian Malbec is fruitier with hints of leather.
Looking to indulge? Here are some wines to try:
France & Italy
Grape Photo Courtesy of UC Davis.