Definition - What does Malbec mean?
Malbec is a red grape varietal. A deep purplish-red, almost black-skinned grape, Malbec has medium thick skin, moderate tannins and unique flavors of plum and leather that add complexity and dimension to wines made with the varietal. With its origins in Northern Burgundy and known in France as cot or pressac, Malbec has traditionally been used in the making of red Boudreaux blends to add vibrant color as well as claret, however, the Malbec vine is grown in wine regions all over the world today and is popular as a single varietal wine as well. Although it originated in France, over 70% of the world's Malbec vines are grown in Argentina, where it was transported to the New World after The Great French Wine Blight.
WineFrog explains Malbec
Malbec has a diverse flavor profile; it is grown all over the world, but he grape is thought to have originated in France in the northern Burgundy region. This varietal grows very well in Southern France and specifically in Argentina where it has become the country's signature wine and varietal, as it grows best in this South American region. Malbec grapes like high heat and a lot of sun to ripen, and the vine is hardy overall and is susceptible to frost.
After The Great French Wine Blight, many vines were left devastated; the remaining crops took a another large hit during the 1950’s when a heavy frost killed nearly ¾’s of the Malbec crop in France, which led to a decrease in the grapes use and popularity in France. The vine rootstocks were transported to New World regions like Argentina in an effort to invigorate the vine's production.
Wines made with Malbec grapes are balanced, smooth and very drinkable with a well-rounded mouthfeel. The Malbec grape develops widely different flavors depending on where it is grown; when grown in France it has pronounced leathery flavors and flavors of currant, black plum and can be quite bitter, while Malbec grapes grown in Argentina have pronounced fruit flavors of plum, cherry and blackberry, chocolate, floral and hints of leather. The differences in the characteristics of Malbec grapes grown in different regions explains why the grapes are used so differently in wine making in each region, with Malbec being part of a blend in France and used solely to make a 100% varietal wine in Argentina. The one characteristic that remains despite the region is the color, Malbec grapes produce wines that have a deep plum/purple color that is often described as inky.