Malbec was once a major component in the great wines of Bordeaux (where it is known as Côt and Côt Noir), but more recently it has also been relegated to a minor role there. It has been steadily replaced by Merlot and the other two Cabernets in most parts of Bordeaux. In the Médoc, it is mainly used to add colour and tannin to the encepagement.

In fact, if Petit Verdot was easier to grow, Malbec would likely have even less area under vine than it does today. It is the key grape only in the small appellation of Cahors (south-west France), where it is also known as Auxerrois. In Cahors, the wines are dark, rustic, full and soft, with earthy tobacco aromas alluding to Bordeaux.

 

Argentina is now regarded as the new home of Malbec. In the wine region of Mendoza, under the shadow of the Andes Mountains, the grape enjoys its vacation from the more moderate climate of the Médoc in Bordeaux - France. Here, there are hot summer temperatures and the grape is left hanging long into the growing season to ripen and soften its rough tannins.

The Malbec grape is a medium skinned grape (in warm climates, thick skinned and at high altitudes) and needs more sun and heat than either Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot to mature. It ripens mid to late in the harvest and it can bring very deep colour, confident tannins, and a particular plum-like flavour component to add complexity to red blends.
The best of Argentine Malbecs' are deep inky reds with juicy dark fruit and soft tannins, making a very approachable, early drinking style of wine. Malbec is also found in Chile, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand (e.g. Waiheke Island, Hawke's Bay and Gisborne) have the required climate and are producing some interesting examples. Traditionally it has been and still is being used as a blending grape in classic Bordeaux-style red blends - (being one of the famous five red grape varietals).