A Brief History of the Malbec

Mmmmalbec. See what we did there? It’s that red wine you see on restaurant wine lists and come across sometimes in a good wine store but maybe don’t know what it is. We’re here to explain it to you!

So where does Malbec come from? The answer, like almost everything else, is France! The first recorded reference to the variety was in the 16th century and it originates in a place in the southwest part of France called Cahors, although it’s called Auxerrois or Cot Noir there. There are theories as to how the name Malbec came to be, and one of the most popular is that it was planted in Bordeaux by a Monsieur Malbeck.

The reason why it’s not as popular as, say the Cabernet Sauvignon or the Pinot Noir is because, in 1956, a massive frost killed off 75% of the crop that was planted in Bordeaux, which is a mainstay of red wine in France.


However, although the same frost occurred in Cahors, the Malbec (Auxerrois) grape was replanted and was able to thrive, allowing it to be a blending buddy for Merlot and Tannat, and now is being produced as 100% Malbec varietals.

The true catalyst for the grape’s popularity is its exportation to Argentina back in the 1800s, where it has taken off like a rocket. It’s now the most planted varietal in all of Argentina, and accounts for more than a third of all black grape varieties in the country and cover twice the area of the next most planted variety.

So that’s a little background on our friend, the Malbec! In our next blog, we’ll discuss the differences between French and Argentine Malbecs!


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