Description 1 of 2

Name of varietal: Malbec

Common synonyms: Côt, Auxerrois, Pressac, Vesparo, Malbeck
 
Parentage of the grape: indigenous to France
 
History of the grape: Some believe Malbec is named after a Hungarian peasant who spread plantings along the French countryside (Janos Malbec-seed, perhaps?). But modern day oenologist Pierre Galet suggests that it was originally called “Côt” and Malbec may perhaps be a name given to it when it was grown in Burgundy. Regardless, the varietal was once one of the most popular grapes grown in France. However, it is very sensitive to frost and coulure (breaking apart), and after a particularly harsh winter in 1956, plantings of Malbec in France are now mostly limited to Southwest France, particularly in Cahors, and to the Medoc in Bordeaux, where it is a blending grape. 
 
Malbec has become the star red attraction in Argentina, where it is often produced in a lush, fruity style. Some parts of the country were resistant to the Phlloxera epidemic, allowing some vines to grow without the need for grafting. Wines made from these very old vines are highly sought after for their concentrated structure. In Mendoza, some of the most distinguished Malbec is produced from plantings in dizzingly high vineyards in the foothills of the Andes, where hot days and cool evenings allow for a long growing season and precise acid to alcohol balance in the grapes. 
 
In other parts of the world, such as parts of the US, Malbec is rising in popularity as modern growing techniques have adapted to its persnickety growing needs. 
 
Characteristics of the grape: deep red/purple/garnet, deep tannins, plum, dark cherry, blackberry, anise, tobacco, espresso
 
Regions where the grape is currently important: France: Bordeaux (Medoc), Cahors, Buzet, Bergerac, Languedoc, Saumur; Argentina, Chile, California, New York, Washington, Oregon, Australia
 
Type or types of wines the grape produces: dry red, rosé, dessert, sparkling
 
– Description from Amanda Schuster

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Description 2 of 2

(aka. Auxerrois, Cot, Pressac)

Malbec is only of minor importance in California, where it is rarely allowed to produce wine on its own. The grape is more often used as a minor player in California’s answer to Bordeaux ‘Meritage’. Malbec was once a major component in the great wines of Bordeaux (where it is known as Cot),but it has also been relegated to a minor role there. In the Medoc, it is mainly used to add color and tannin to the encepagement. In fact, if Petit Verdot was easier to grow, Malbec would likely have even less acreage under vine than it does. It is the key grape only in the small appellation of Cahors, where it is known as Auxerrois. In Cahors, the wines are dark, rustic, full and soft, with earthy tobacco aromas alluding to Bordeaux.

Argentina is now the home of Malbec. In Mendoza, under the shadow of the Andes Mountains, the grape enjoys its vacation from the more moderate climate of the Medoc. 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 best of Argentine Malbecs are deep inky reds with juicy dark fruit and soft tannins. Also found in Australia, South Africa and New Zealand, it is used as a blending grape in Bordeaux-style blends.

Don’t cry for me, I’m in Argentina...
...Sure, but you do make the odd trip to the vineyards of America to visit and lend a helpful hand to your childhood friend, Cabernet Sauvignon. Many enjoy your rustic character, but those in the high stakes wine game of Bordeaux and California have little tolerance for your fruitless tendency to skip out on the job. It seems that with your dark skin and color, you fit in better with the Gauchos of Argentina, where the heat and dryness bring out the best of your character, making you more inclined to put in a full day's work. But whenever needed, you’ll always be available for us north of the Rio Grande. – Description from Appellation America (view original content)

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