Are you celebrating? Here are some things you might not know about Malbec and wines that you may want to consider after reading this. Cheers!
Origins of Malbec - The Black Wine of Cahors
Lets talk about Malbec! Let's pay homage to its French roots. Malbec plantings in South West France were identified in 1868. Called Côt Noir or Auxerrois, it is still the main grape variety in the Cahors appellation (est. in 1971) which covers 45 communes with 21,700 ha planted. Malbec blends must be 70% Malbec and blending partners are typically Tannat and Merlot. A small amount of Malbec is also planted in the Loire Valley, here blended with Gamay and Cabernet Franc as well as Bordeaux where it was blended into France's most famous red wine export with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot. Malbec is less abundant in Bordeaux where after a severe frost in 1956, 70% of the plantings were destroyed.
Malbec - The Grape
The grape is thick skinned with smallish, dark berries that have concentrated flavour. UC Davis research has provided DNA findings that suggest Malbec shares a parent with Merlot and therefore many of its traits, Merlot being more broadly planted.
In terms of terroir, Malbec prefers dry breezy vineyards that hold heat, ripening early to mid-season. Soils that suit Malbec includes limestone to clay and sand although limestone brings a special character. Threats to good production of Malbec include cooler climate frosts, coulure, downey mildew and rot which is why a dry climate produces better results. Malbec from Cahor tend to be more tannic showing rustic savory character where Argentine Malbecs lean into lush and juicy with softer tannins.
Aromas and flavours range from red to black berry, cherry and plum often with hints of mocha, savory herbs and liquorice to oak spice. Efforts to capture the highest quality expressions of Malbec from producers in both France and Argentina will note "single vineyard" on the label.
Malbec & Mendoza
Malbec & Perfect Pairings
If you are sipping a red wine from Cahors then duck is your dish. If you are pouring Mendoza, then look no further than Asada - the famous Argentine BBQ featuring meats especially steaks. How about a great cut like aged Rib-eye and Waygu 5 or 6. Whatever you choose, it's going to be a delicious and now informed Malbec celebration. Next up - a trip to Mendoza. Stay tuned.