A popular red grape variety that rose to fame after clever marketing and easy food pairing suggestions. Malbec and steak go hand in hand. These two specialities from Argentina have proven the statement ‘what grows together goes together’.
Malbec creates full-bodied red wines, bursting with bright black fruit flavours and chocolate notes. Prices are very varied for Malbec. Good wines can easily be found for under £10 and there are many outstanding examples in the £10-£15 price bracket.
Malbec makes rich, full-bodied red wines with medium tannins and acidity. This makes it an easy style to pair with food and also to drink solo. The big structure means it ages well both in oak barrels and in the bottle. Oak adds lovely vanilla and toast flavours that compliment the fruit. With age, tertiary tobacco and leather notes can form.
Argentina is the New World home of Malbec. This is where the grape variety rose to fame in the 21st century. The Argentinian Malbec’s have a spicy character with deep black fruits. Oak ageing is common adding toasted wood and vanilla notes. Mendoza, close to the Chilean border in the foothills of the Andes is where many of the most impressive Malbec wines come from.
In Bordeaux Malbec may also be called Côt. It was one of the main varieties in Bordeaux until the devastating winter freeze of 1956 when many vines were destroyed. After this, more fashionable varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot were replanted. It is a difficult variety to ripen in Bordeaux so is only planted in the warmest sites.
This is the home of Malbec in France. Here it can be called Côt or Auxerrois. Malbec is the most planted variety in the region and makes up the majority of the blend (at least 70%), often with a little Tannat and Merlot. These are big, bold wines that can greatly improve with oak barrel ageing and time in the bottle.