Malbec: The Tango Partner

Malbec is one of the Bordeaux blending grapes

  • Also called Côt and Auxerrois
  • Small grape with dark berries and thin skins
  • Needs more sun and heat than either Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot to ripen
  • Never truly succeeded in Bordeaux because of its susceptibility to disease and rot, so only small amounts were planted for blends
  • Grown mainly in outlying areas of Bordeaux such as Bourg, Blaye and Entre-Deux-Mers

Southwest France

  • The basis for the “Black Wine” of Cahors in the valley of the Lot River. Grows best in the arid limestone plateau of Cahors
  • Cahors wine must be 70% Malbec with the possible addition of Tannat and Merlot. Tends to be basic and Rustic
  • A resurgence of Malbec in Cahors is occurring due to the success of Argentine Malbec
  • Cahors winemakers work with the Argentines to promote “World Malbec Day,” April 17th
  • Malbec from Cahors is leathery and savory, with flavors of tart currant and black plum, black pepper, and spice with high acidity, firm tannins, and a pleasant bitterness


  • Malbec was brought to Argentina in 1868
  • Thrived in the dry high altitude climate of Mendoza
  • Rapidly became Argentina’s number one wine grape
  • In the 21st century, made its name as an affordable alternative to Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah
  • Malbec from Argentina is generally fruity, velvety, and high in alcohol, with flavors of pomegranate, blackberry, black cherry, and plum. Oak aging can bring flavors of chocolate, cocoa, and sweet tobacco
  • Big production with a wide variety of quality levels and oak aging practices
  • Brings a lot of the flavor and boldness of Cabernet and Syrah with much lower tannins
  • A very accessible food-friendly red wine, a gateway red wine for white wine drinkers
  • And…yes…easy to pronounce