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 vines growing at Grey Sands in Northern Tasmania.
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.
Malbec is also used as a minor blending variety by some Bordeaux wineries.
Malbec is one of the varieties described in my Book What Varietal is That?
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.
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 or so when a few enthusiasts have been giving the variety more attention.
By 2021 there are about 180 wineries using Malbec in Australia:
- Ada River Gippsland
- Adinfern Margaret River
- Alkoomi Frankland River
- Andrew Peace Wines Swan Hill
- Aravina Margaret River
- Atlas Wines Clare Valley
- Audrey Wilkinson Hunter Valley
- Ballandean Estate Granite Belt
- Banks Road Geelong
- Barrecas Geographe
- Bay of Shoals Kangaroo Island
- Ben Potts Wines Langhorne Creek
- Big Easy Radio McLaren Vale
- Blaxland Wine Group Barossa Valley
- Bleasdale Langhorne Creek
- Blue Pyrenees Pyrenees
- Brave Goose Vineyard Goulburn Valley
- Bremerton Langhorne Creek
- Brookland Valley Margaret River
- Brothers in Arms Langhorne Creek
- Browns of Padthaway Padthaway
- Bungawarra Granite Belt
- Campbells Wines Rutherglen
- Cape Grace Wines Margaret River
- Cape Naturaliste Margaret River
- Capel Vale Geographe
- Carpe Diem Margaret River
- Casa Freschi Langhorne Creek
- Casella Riverina
- Castelli Estate Denmark
- Celestial Bay Margaret River
- Chalmers Heathcote
- Churchview Estate Margaret River
- Claymore Clare Valley
- Cloudburst Margaret River
- Coates Wines McLaren Vale
- Cofield Wines Rutherglen
- Collins and Co Wines Barossa Valley
- Corymbia Swan Valley
- Cowra Estate Cowra
- Cullen Wines Margaret River
- Delatite Winery Upper Goulburn
- Dinny Goonan Family Estate Geelong
- Djinta Djinta Gippsland
- Drakesbrook Wines Peel
- Driftwood Margaret River
- Eldredge Clare Valley
- Erin Eyes Clare Valley
- Evoi Margaret River
- Faber Vineyard Swan Valley
- Ferngrove Vineyards Frankland River
- Flametree Margaret River
- Forest Hill Denmark
- Forester Estate Margaret River
- Fraser Gallop Margaret River
- Gaelic Cemetery Clare Valley
- Gestalt Wines Adelaide Hills
- Gil Graves Bendigo
- Gipsie Jack Langhorne Creek
- Golden Ball Beechworth
- Golden Grove Estate Granite Belt
- Grace Farm Margaret River
- Grape Farm Winery Pyrenees
- Grassy Point Coatsworth Wines Geelong
- Grey Sands Northern Tasmania
- Haan Barossa Valley
- Harcourt Valley Bendigo
- Hay Shed Hill Wines Margaret River
- Heartland Wines Limestone Coast Zone
- Higher Plane Margaret River
- Hillbille Blackwood Valley
- Hither and Yon McLaren Vale
- House of Cards Margaret River
- Ironcloud Geographe
- Island Brook Margaret River
- Jane Brook Estate Swan Valley
- Jeanneret Wines Clare Valley
- Jilyara Margaret River
- Jim Barry Wines Clare Valley
- Joadja Vineyards Southern Highlands
- John Kosovich Wines Swan Valley
- Jones Winery and Vineyard Rutherglen
- Juniper Estate Margaret River
- Kaesler Barossa Valley
- Kanoetree Langhorne Creek
- Karatta Wines Robe
- Keith Tulloch Wine Hunter Valley
- Kings Landing
- Knappstein Wines Clare Valley
- Konpira Maru Various
- Kurtz Family Vineyards Barossa Valley
- La La Land Murray Darling
- Lake Breeze Langhorne Creek
- Lamonts Swan Valley
- Landhaus Estate Adelaide Hills
- Langmeil Barossa Valley
- Lethbridge Wines Geelong
- Levantine Hill Estate Yarra Valley
- Little Bridge Canberra
- Little River Wines Swan Valley
- LS Merchants Margaret River
- Macaw Creek Wine Mount Lofty Ranges Zone
- Mansfield Wines Mudgee
- Marq Margaret River
- Matchbox Wines Clare Valley
- Matriarch and Rogue Clare Valley
- Maxwell Wines McLaren Vale
- McHenry Hohnen Margaret River
- Mercuri Estate Clare Valley
- Mia Valley Heathcote
- Millbrook Winery Perth Hills
- Mitolo McLaren Vale
- Moombaki Wines Denmark
- Mordrelle Adelaide Hills
- Morris Rutherglen
- Moss Brothers Margaret River
- Mount Charlie Winery Macedon Ranges
- Munari Heathcote
- Murrumbateman Canberra
- Muster Wine Company Barossa Valley
- Nannup Estate Blackwood Valley
- Next Crop Wines Langhorne Creek
- Nick Spencer Wines Tumbarumba
- O'Leary Walker Clare Valley
- Oakway Estate Geographe
- Olive Farm Wines Swan Valley
- Olive Hills Estate Rutherglen
- Palmer Wines Margaret River
- Paracombe Wines Adelaide Hills
- Petaluma Adelaide Hills
- Peter Lehmann Barossa Valley
- Petersons Glenesk Estate Mudgee
- Pfeiffer Wines Rutherglen
- Pike and Joyce Adelaide Hills
- Poachers Ridge Vineyards Mount Barker
- Pondalowie Bendigo
- Possums Vineyard McLaren Vale
- Pyren Vineyard Pyrenees
- Reedy Creek New England
- Risky Business Margaret River
- Riverbank Estate Swan Valley
- Robert Channon Granite Belt
- Robertson of Clare Clare Valley
- Rolf Binder Barossa Valley
- Rudderless Wines McLaren Vale
- Rusden Wines Barossa Valley
- SC Pannell McLaren Vale
- Seabrook Barossa Valley
- Serrat Yarra Valley
- Settlers Ridge Margaret River
- Sevenhill Wines Clare Valley
- Silkwood Wines Pemberton
- SinglefileWines Denmark
- Skillogalee Clare Valley
- Slain Giant Barossa Valley
- Steve Wiblin's Erin Eyes Clare Valley
- Stone Bridge Wines Clare Valley
- Summit Estate Granite Belt
- Sussex Squire Clare Valley
- Swinny Frankland River
- 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
- Tonon Vineyard and Winery Perth Hills
- tripe.Escariot Margaret River
- Victory Point Wines Margaret River
- Vinaceous Various
- Virgara Wines Adelaide Plains
- Warrabilla Wines Rutherglen
- Warramunda Estate Yarra Valley
- Waterwheel Wines Bendigo
- Wendouree Clare Valley
- Whicher Ridge Geographe
- Whistling Eagle Wines Heathcote
- Windows Estate Margaret River
- Winya Wines Queensland Zone
- Wise Wine Margaret River
- Wombat Lodge Margaret River
- Xanadu Margaret River
- Yarra Peaks Yarra Valley
- Yarra Yering Yarra Valley
- Zilzie Murray Darling
- Zonte's Footstep Langhorne Creek
Updated 5 September 2021
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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 Cahors wines 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
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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 beef ribs.
See the book Daring Pairings for more food pairing suggestions.
See this page for an article about Malbec
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