Malbec, also known as Côt or Auxerrois, is a black grape used to create a dark wine that is rich in tannin. It is one of five main grape varieties to be blended in Bordeaux, but it is perhaps best known as the “black wine of Cahors”.
The French Malbec has rustic, meaty and tannic qualities, which is often softened with Merlot. The grape ripens in the middle of the growing season, forming small, colourful fruit with thin skins. Its sensitivity to the terroir means that great care must be taken to grow the grapes and to harvest them at the right time. The ideal terroir for Malbec is elevated, rugged and with limestone soil.
Once prominent throughout southwest France, Malbec suffered heavily in the severe winter of 1956, and was generally replaced by other varieties that were more fashionable at the time, and easier to nurture. While its French origins are what first brought it to prominence, Malbec has reached a new level of international recognition following its widespread adoption in Argentina, particularly in Mendoza. The Argentinian Malbec tends to be fruitier and with softer tannin.