To celebrate World Malbec Day 2022, which coincides with Easter Sunday this year, we’re sharing 19 facts about Malbec with you.
- A French grape
Malbec is part of, and is the reason for the name of, the Cotoïdes family of wines which is made up of: côt, malbec, négrette, valdiguié, tannat (the day of which we wrote about earlier in the week.
- First recorded in 16th century
First records of Malbec, then known as Auxerrois (from the name of the town Auxerre), are from the 16th century.
- French Malbec regions
Malbec originated in South-Western France, more specifically in the Cahors region. The calcareous and rocky soils and high altitudes are perfect for growing Malbec.
- Malbec was once grown in 30 different departments of France. This is evident from the more than 1000 synonyms for the name Malbec.
- Why the name?
The name Malbec is thought to have come from Monsieur Malbeck who introduced the grape to Bordeaux.
- It is also known by the following names:
- Bordeaux wines
Malbec is one of the 6 grapes permitted in Bordeaux wines.
- A necessary component of A.O.C. Cahors
Malbec is required to make up at least 70% of the AOC Cahors wines with Merlot and Tannat making up the rest of the blend.
- Malbec in other blends
Malbec is often blended with Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Tannat to produce dark full-bodied wines. In the Loire Valley in France, Malbec is blended with Cabernet Franc or Gamay.
- Not just red wines
Some brands produce sparkling white and rosé wines from Malbec just as Champagne makers use Pinot Noir to produce champagne
- What to pair with Malbec?
Steak is the traditional pairing with Argentinian malbec. Lamb is often suggested to pair with French Malbecs. Blue cheese is a surprising pairing suggestion for the wine.
- Malbec grapes appearance
Malbec grapes are small and have a deep purple colour with thick skins.
- More alcoholic than other wines
Wines produced from Malbec grapes are higher in alcohol than Merlot and Pinot Noir. The grapes and their wines darkness led to them being called “black wines” in the Middle Ages.
- Difficult to grow elsewhere in France
Malbec vines are extremely sensitive and the grapes are prone to rot, develop downy mildew and have barely any no resistance to frost.
- French Malbec wines
French Malbec wines have rich fruity flavours and medium tannin levels. Cahors Malbecs are their darkest. Younger Malbecs taste of blackberries. tobacco, coffee and meaty notes present in older Malbecs from Cahors.
- Larger plantings in Argentina than in France
Malbec was introduced to Argentina by the Frenchman Michel Pouget in 1868. Today, Argentina has more than 25,000 hectares of Malbec. It’s quite significantly larger than the French Malbec plantings which had diminished to only 5,000 hectares in 1994.
- Argentinian Malbecs
Argentinian Malbec wines in contrast are less tannic and have velvety soft texture. These wines have brambly black mountain fruit and sweet floral notes.
- Malbec in the world
Apart from its home country of France and its adopted country of Argentina, Malbec is also grown in the United States where it is found in California, New York, Oregon, Idaho, Texas, Virginia, North Carolina, Michigan, New Jersey, and Colorado. It is also grown in Australia, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Italy, Mexico, New Zealand, and Peru.
- World Malbec Day
Malbec World Day, better known as World Malbec Day is celebrated on the 17th April annually. That celebrates the day on which Argentinian President Domingo Faustino Sarmiento asked Michel Aimee Pourget, a French soil expert to bring new vines to Argentina. These included Malbec.
What’s your favourite Malbec? Happy World Malbec Day 2022! Which Malbec or Malbec blend will you celebrate World Malbec Day 2022 with?
Want to know about other French wine varietals?
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