Malbec Red Wine Variety

Malbec was a relatively forgotten red wine variety in Australia until about a decade ago, but thanks to Argentina there is now a great deal of interest in the variety.

Malbec GrapesMalbec Grapes By Ian L (originally posted to Flickr as Vines) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Malbec in France and In Argentina

Malbec's home is the Cahors Region in South West France. In that region it makes rich dark wines referred to as "black wines". These reached legendary status in pre-Phylloxera times, but the Cahors region has taken a long time to recover from that disaster. Only in recent decades have the Cahors wines regained more than local recognition.

In Cahors the variety is also called Cot, or Auxerrois. Other synonyms include Pressac, Pied Rouge, Jacobain, Grifforin.

See this article about the Black Wines of Cahors

Malbec is also used as a minor blending variety by some Bordeaux wineries.

In Argentina Malbec served as the "workhorse" variety for many years, producing ordinary everyday drinking varieties.

The opinion of the wines was so low that there were vine pull schemes to get rid of them, but fortunately wise heads prevailed.  By the 1990s  it was discovered that with a little care and modern technology Malbec could produce acceptable wines at a price point in the North American and European markets.

Soon an export boom began as Argentinian Malbec replaced Australian Shiraz and Chilean Cabernet as the value for money imported wine.

Riding on this success many Argentinian winemakers are now making excellent premium Malbec wines.

The Vineyard at the End of the World : Maverick Winemakers and the Rebirth of Malbec, by Ian Mount. Click to see how you can get your copy with free worldwide delivery

malbec in Australia

Wine Regions where the Malbec variety is used in Australia

The variety is certainly less common in Australia than it was a couple of decades ago, but there is some evidence that it may be making a comeback.

Until the 1980s Malbec was used as blending material with Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz or both. The role of blending partner with Cabernet has been supplanted by Merlot.

There has always been a few varietal Malbecs around but the variety was fading away until the past decade when a few enthusiasts have been giving the variety more attention.

  • Ada River Gippsland
  • Adinfern Margaret River
  • Alkoomi Frankland River
  • Andrew Peace Wines Swan Hill
  • Atlas Wines Clare Valley
  • Audrey Wilkinson Hunter Valley
  • Ballandeen Estate Granite Belt
  • Barrecas Geographe
  • Ben Potts Wines Langhorne Creek
  • Blaxland Wine Group Barossa Valley
  • Bleasdale Langhorne Creek
  • Brave Goose Vineyard Goulburn Valley
  • Bremerton Langhorne Creek
  • Brothers in Arms Langhorne Creeek
  • Browns of Padthaway Padthaway
  • Bungawarra Granite Belt
  • Campbells Wines Rutherglen
  • Cape Grace Wines Margaret River
  • Carpe Diem Margaret River
  • Casa Freschi Langhorne Creek
  • Casella Riverina
  • Castelli Estate Great Southern
  • Celestial Bay Margaret River
  • Chalmers Heathcote
  • Cloudburst Margaret River
  • Coates Wines McLaren Vale
  • Cofield Wines Rutherglen
  • Collins and Co Wines Barossa Valley
  • Cullen Wines Margaret River
  • Delatite Winery Upper Goulburn
  • Dinny Goonan Family Estate Geelong
  • Djinta Djinta Gippsland
  • Drakesbrook Wines Peel
  • Eldredge Clare Valley
  • Erin Eyes Clare Valley
  • Faber Vineyard Swan Valley
  • Ferngrove Vineyards Frankland River
  • Forester Estate Margaret River
  • Fryerstown Road Vineyard Macedon Ranges
  • Gapsted Alpine Valleys
  • Gipsie Jack Langhorne Creek
  • Golden Ball Beechworth
  • Golden Grove Estate Granite Belt
  • Grassy Point Coatsworth Wines Geelong
  • Haan Barossa Valley
  • Harcourt Valley Bendigo
  • Hay Shed Hill Wines Margaret River
  • Higher Plane Margaret River
  • Hillbille Blackwood Valley
  • Island Brook Margaret River
  • Jane Brook Estate Swan Valley
  • Joadja Vineyards Southern Highlands
  • John Kosovich Wines Swan Valley
  • Jones Winery and Vineyard Rutherglen
  • Juniper Estate Margaret River
  • Karatta Wine Limestone Coast Zone
  • Keith Tulloch Wine Hunter Valley
  • Knappstein Wines Clare Valley
  • Kurtz Family Vineyards Barossa Valley
  • Lake Breeze Langhorne Creek
  • Lamonts Swan Valley
  • Landhaus Estate Adelaide Hills
  • Larry Cherubino Margaret River
  • Lethbridge Wines Geelong
  • Levantine Hill Estate Yarra Valley
  • Little Bridge Canberra
  • Little River Wines Swan Valley
  • Mansfield Wines Mudgee
  • Marq Margaret River
  • Matchbox Wines Clare Valley
  • Maxwell Wines McLaren Vale
  • McCuskers Vineyard Perth Hills
  • McHenry Hohnen Margaret River
  • Mercuri Estate Clare Valley
  • Millbrook Winery Perth Hills
  • Mitolo McLaren Vale
  • Moombaki Wines Denmark
  • Mount Charlie Winery Macedon Ranges
  • Munari Heathcote
  • Next Crop Wines Langhorne Creek
  • Noorinbee Selection Vineyards Gippsland
  • Olive Hills Estate Rutherglen
  • Paracombe Wines Adelaide Hills
  • Peter Lehmann Barossa Valley
  • Petersons Glenesk Estate Mudgee
  • Pfeiffer Wines Rutherglen
  • Pondalowie Bendigo
  • Possums Vineyard McLaren Vale
  • Pyren Vineyard Pyrenees
  • Reedy Creek New England
  • Rewine North East Victoria
  • Riverbank Estate Swan Valley
  • Robertson of Clare Clare Valley
  • Rolf Binder Barossa Valley
  • Rowanston on the Track Macedon Ranges
  • Rudderless Wines McLaren Vale
  • Rusden Wines Barossa Valley
  • serrat Yarra Valley
  • Settlers Ridge Margaret River
  • Sevenhill Wines Clare Valley
  • Silkwood Wines Pemberton
  • Skillogalee Clare Valley
  • Slain Giant Barossa Valley
  • St Ignatius Vineyard Pyrenees
  • Steve Wiblin's Erin Eyes Clare Valley
  • Stone Bridge Wines Clare Valley
  • Summit Estate Granite Belt
  • Sussex Squire Clare Valley
  • Tahbilk Nagambie Lakes
  • Talisman Wines Geographe
  • Tamburlaine Hunter Valley
  • Temple Bruer Langhorne Creek
  • The Islander Estate Vineyards Kangaroo Island
  • The Silos Estate Shoalhaven Coast
  • Thorn-Clarke Wines Barossa Valley
  • tripe.Escariot Margaret River
  • Victory Point Wines Margaret River
  • Vinaceous Various
  • Virgara Wines Adelaide Plains
  • Waterwheel Wines Bendigo
  • Wendouree Clare Valley
  • Windy Ridge Vineyard Gippsland
  • Winya Wines Queensland Zone
  • Wombat Lodge Margaret River
  • Xanadu Margaret River
  • Zonte's Footstep Langhorne Creek

The taste of Malbec

Some Malbec wines, particularly those from the French region of Cahors are particularly dark in appearance, so much so as they are known as the Black Wines of Cahors.

When you taste the wine though you may be surprised at the smoother flavour, although many have firm tannic structure. These tannins of course indicate that the wine is probably suitable for ageing.

Rich, gamey, tannic, blackberry, damson, violets...

These are some of the descriptors for these wines used on De Long's Wine Grape Varietal Table

A dark purple colour, a thrilling damson and violet aroma , a lush fat rich fruit flavour and a positively soothing ripe tannic structure

Oz Clarke Grapes and Vines

Oz Calrke's Grapes and VinesOrder with free worldwide delivery

Malbec and food

The two homes of Malbec give some clues for what foods you might consider.

Cahors is in South West France where the classic dish is cassoulet - a rustic haricot bean based stew that includes sausages, confit of duck and maybe some pork and other meats.

Argentina is the home of Beef and BBQs, or assado. So you might accompany your Malbec with grilled steak, sausages or ribs.

See Daring Pairings for more suggestions.

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