Grape Profile: Malbec – Argentina’s Flagship Grape

Grape Profile - Malbec - Argentina's Flagship Grape

Malbec World Day is just around the corner so I thought it would be a great time to get to know the Malbec grape a little bit better. I have most definitely consumed my fair share of red wine made from Malbec over the years from around the world.

Malbec wine is typically known for its dark cherry red/violet colour, it can be so dark it nearly seems black. It is medium to full-bodied and is the perfect wine for those who love their meats and proteins.

Before we get stuck in, let’s check out some fun facts about the Malbec grape:

  • Malbec is one of the 6 grapes allowed in a Bordeaux red wine blend
  • It originated in Cahors in South West France where it is called Auxerrois or Côt Noir
  • It needs more sun and heat to ripen compared to Cab Sauv and Merlot which is why it’s typically grown in warmer climates

When is Malbec World Day?

Malbec World Day is on the 17th of April every year (check out more global wine days here). You can find out all about the day alongside events happening around the world on the website which was created by Wines of Argentina.

So make sure you crack a bottle of Malbec on the 17th and use the hashtag #MalbecWorldDay.

Malbec World Day Logo

Where is Malbec grown?

Malbec grapes are grown around the world.

It is synonymous with Argentina (the most well-known regions are probably Mendoza, San Juan and Salta) where it was introduced to the country in 1852 by Michel Pouget. Currently, there are around 76,603 acres of Malbec vines in the country.

There are also many great examples of Malbec grown in other countries such as:

  • France (quite popular in Bordeaux and the Loire Valley especially)
  • Italy
  • Spain
  • South Africa
  • Australia (South Australia and Victoria produce some good ones)
  • New Zealand (look for examples from the Hawkes Bay and Gisborne)
  • USA (quite popular in California, Washington & Oregon)
  • Brazil
  • Bolivia

Malbec can either be a varietal wine (i.e. 100% made of Malbec) or used in a blend (typically to add colour).

Is Malbec dry?

Yes, it is classed as a dry red wine and it typically has bold, yet silky tannins. It can be quite fruity with sweet spices that may make it seem sweet to some palates.

What are the typical aromas and flavours you find in Malbec?

It really depends on where the grapes are grown and how the winemaker decides to craft the wine. However, these are some of the most popular flavours and aromas you may find in a wine made from Malbec:

  • Black fruit (think plums, cherries and blackberries)
  • Sweet spices
  • Cocoa/chocolate
  • Spicy florals
  • Black pepper
  • Paprika
  • Tobacco/smoky
  • Firm, sweet, silky tannins
Malbec Wine Sensory Garden at Whicher Ridge Wines, Geographe Wine Region

Wine Sensory Garden at Whicher Ridge Wines – Geographe, WA

What to pair with Malbec?

I am all for the philosophy of matching wine with local produce, so really an Argentinian BBQ would be an ideal match.

However, the below food matches would also go down a treat in my opinion:

  • Steaks (especially with a pepper sauce or a creamy mushroom sauce)
  • Blue cheese or any type of melted cheese (mmmmmmmm)
  • Beef burgers
  • Lamb with mint/rosemary/sage
  • Roasted stuffed capsicums
  • Grilled eggplants
  • Mushrooms
  • Roast beef/turkey/lamb or pork with potatoes

Who’s hungry now? I definitely am!

Malbec tasting notes:

Here are some tasting notes from Malbecs I have had the pleasure of drinking in the past:

Yep we literally are living out of our suitcases until all our stuff arrives from Perth which means dinner on the floor with plastic plates & cutlery. We’re also trying to save money due to launching a small business which means food & wine from @aldiaustralia . This is one of their $10 reds from Argentina ??. It’s a typical colour for a Malbec – deep purple-y red. The nose is also deep and dark with black plums and spice dominating for me. In the mouth it’s juicy and easy drinking. It’s your every day quaffable red wine. The decent tannin and acidity suggests it’d be a great bbq meat feast wine. Mr. Spittoon didn’t really agree with the 93 points by James Suckling sticker on the label, even for the $10 price tag ? All opinions are based on my own taste buds. Wine is subjective & always evolving, so make sure you drink what you enjoy! #tcweekdaywine #tctastingnotes . . . . . #movinginterstate #aldi #aldifinds #aldiwine #aldidinner #malbec #argentinawine #memdozawine #bodegapredranegra #predranegra #wine #vino #redwine #wineanddine #newhouse #wineandfood #wineblog #wineblogger #travellingcorkscrew #wineoclock #movinghouse

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Welcome to La La Land – an eclectic collection of new generation wines from north-west Victoria (near Mildura). I love the descriptions on the back labels of @lalalandwines. The Malbec has: “Malbec for the dream-weavers and believers. The trend setters, go getters & jet-setters Deep and divine, rich and robust; Madman or poet, Malbec is a must!” This 2016 Malbec is a deep purple-red colour in the glass. It has a very fresh and pretty nose full of plums and violet perfume. In the mouth it tastes like you’ve just bitten into a plum – so fresh and juicy. There’s also hints of mocha and spice in there. Delicious! All opinions are based on my own taste buds. Wine is subjective & always evolving, so make sure you drink what you enjoy! #sample #tcweekdaywine #tctastingnotes . . . . . #lalalandwines #wingarawinegroup #malbec #vicwine #aussiewine #melbournewine #wine #vino #elloco #wineoclock #winetasting #redwine #ilovewine #wineblog #wineblogger #perthwineblog #travellingcorkscrew #winerylovers #gtwine #winesearcher #winelover #winenerd #winegeek #winenight #winelover #winetime #wineday

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@ferngrovewines from WA’s Great Southern region produce some cracking wine. I have a real affinity for the Orchid range too – simply because I love the flowers! The bonus thing though is that the wine is pretty fab too. This 2015 King ? Malbec is a brand new release from the Frankland River winery which retails for approx $32. It’s a deep purple magenta colour on the eye. While on the nose it’s soft and plush with a mix of jammy red and black berries and a hint of spice. On the palate it’s perfectly rounded with juicy, fruity goodness and a delectable long finish . I do love a good Malbec ? All opinions are based on my own taste buds. Wine is subjective & always evolving, so make sure you drink what you enjoy! #sample #tcweekdaywine #tctastingnotes

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Nothing beats the winter chills better than a good bottle of red wine. This Argentinian ?? Malbec was in one of the #thetcwineclub monthly 3-bottle boxes and I have to admit I’m pretty chuffed with this choice. You can find out more about the club here: travellingcorkscrew.com.au/wine-club This bottle is full of girl power as the winemaker behind it, Susan Balbo, was in fact the first woman to graduate as a winemaker in Argentina (1981). This ‘lush with hints of spice’ 2015 Mendoza Malbec is nearly opaque on the eye with a gorgeous velvet red-purple shimmer to it. The nose is full of black fruits like blackberries, pencil lead and vanilla. On the palate it’s juicy and full of flavour with a delicate, lingering cherry ? finish. It’s rather savoury mid-palate with coffee, charcoal and baking spice entertaining the taste buds. Pairs perfectly with a spicy bolognese and cosy couch blanket. All opinions are based on my own taste buds. Wine is subjective & always evolving, so make sure you drink what you enjoy! #gifted #tcweekdaywine #tctastingnotes

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What’s the best Malbec wine in your opinion? Leave a comment below!

3 thoughts on “Grape Profile: Malbec – Argentina’s Flagship Grape

  1. Brilliant! I will be off to look for a nice affordable Malbec for our Sangria next week and I am inspired by your pairing notes for our Tapas! Bleu cheese, beef meatballs, maybe some grilled eggplant, stuffed peppers….I’l let you know what we end up pairing! Might be a little different since making it into a Sangria will pull the fruit forward. Thanks again for the inspiration!

  2. I’m drawn to this grape because of its characteristics but also because my mother is from Buenos Aires. Like all grape varieties there’s a big spectrum with this one and the ones we like have been great — definitely need more “research”!

Grab a glass of wine and let me know what you think...

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