What is Malbec Wine – The Best Organic Malbec Wines To Try
If you are looking for a high quality red wine to try, look no further than Malbec. Malbec is a grape that makes one of the most popular South American wines, as well as one of the most affordable and widely available.
Below, we take a look at Malbec and find out more about it. We’ll answer the question, “What is Malbec wine?”, and explain about the different types of Malbec wine, where the best Malbec wine comes from, and even give you a few recommendations of our own organic Malbecs to try.
By the end of this page, you’ll know everything you need to know to kick back and enjoy a glass of this delightful red wine!
What is organic Malbec wine?
Malbec is a red grape variety, originally grown in south-west France’s Cahors and Loire Valley regions (where it was commonly known as Cot). Since its introduction to Argentina, it has adapted itself to the conditions to produce beautifully full-bodied red wine, with soft-tannins, a rich, juicy flavour and hallmark velvety-smooth texture.
The ripening process gives the grapes smooth tannins and a plum-like flavor that adds depth and complexity to the wines produced from the Malbec grape. It is still capable of giving deeply coloured, inky-purple wines.
The History of Malbec Wine
Malbec is a fascinating wine! It’s unclear where the name “Malbec” came from, but it’s believed that the grape is named after the Hungarian peasant responsible for bringing the wine to France.
There is also speculation that the variety originated in northern Burgundy.
Interestingly enough, Malbec became far less popular in the Old World after the frost of 1956 killed off 75% of the grapes growing in Bordeaux. Before this the grape played an important role in Bordeaux wine, as a blending partner with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.
It was only after the Argentine wine-growing industry began to focus on growing Malbec (in the mid-20th century) that it became highly popular. Now, more than 75,000 acres of Argentine wine country is dedicated to growing Malbec, 75% of all Malbec is now grown here.
- Fun Fact: Malbec is one of the six grapes that can be used to make the Bordeaux blend.
Types of organic Malbec Wine
Did you know that the characteristics of Malbec change according to the region where it is grown?
- Malbec wines from Argentina tend to have fruit flavours of black cherry, plum, and blackberry. The deeper, subtler flavours include leather, violet flowers, cocoa powder, and milk chocolate. Depending on the type of oak used to age the wine, some Argentine Malbecs have a sweet tobacco flavour on the finish.
- Malbec wines from France, however, tend to be the opposite of the fruit-forward Argentine examples. Grown in the Cahors region, French Malbecs can have leathery, black plum and tart currant among them. There is also a higher acidity, with strong flavours of spice and black pepper. They tend to have less alcohol than Argentine Malbecs, with more substantial tannins. This means that French Malbecs have the ability to age for more years than the New World varieties.
There are a number of other regions in the world that also grow Malbec:
- The United States – California, Oregon, and New York are all known produces of Malbec wines. However, the grape is used mostly for blending and is rarely used on its own.
- Chile – Seeing the success of neighbouring Argentina, Chile decided to try its hand at growing Malbec grapes in the Central Valley. Chilean Malbecs tend to have stronger tannins, and is mostly used for Bordeaux-style Chilean blends.
- Australia – The Malbec clone introduced to Australia was quite weak, so it was often replaced by other grape varieties. However, there are still roughly 1,200 acres of Australian wine country dedicated to growing Malbec.
Drinking Malbec Organic Wine
Malbec is a full-bodied red wine, meaning it’s able to stand on its own. Malbec, like most red wines, should be served at just under room temperature – somewhere between 16 and 20 degrees. If you think the wine might be too warm, try placing it in the fridge for up to 30 minutes.
It’s best enjoyed from a traditional red wine glass, large enough to give a decent swirl, releasing the wonderful aromas.
Malbec and Food Pairings
As a full-bodied red wine, Malbec can stand up to stronger-flavoured foods. Malbec is intended to be served with bold dishes, strong spices, and anything with rich aromas.
- Meat – Malbec and steak are perfect partners, and rarely seen apart in the famous ‘parrilla’ (steakhouses) of Mendoza and beyond. Lighter, fruitier styles are good with rustic pasta dishes and pork. The spicy, smoky, and leathery flavors of French Malbecs make it a good option for slow-cooked casseroles.
- Spicy Dishes – If you’re looking for a wine to pair with your Mexican or Indian meals, we highly recommend Malbec, especially an Argentine Malbec. The spicy nature of Mexican dishes will bring out the stronger flavours of your Malbec, and the unique combination of spices and flavours in Indian food are perfect for pairing with the rich red wine.
Remember, the full body, smooth tannins, and juicy fruit of Malbec makes it an excellent pairing for heavier foods. Any dish that has bold flavours will go nicely with your Malbec.
Organic Malbec Wine Characteristics
The flavour profile of the best recommended Malbec wines can depend on the region of
origin but common Malbec flavours are:
▪ Black cherry
▪ Black pepper
Where is organic Malbec Grown?
Today vine varieties have a habit of cropping all over the world. Current numbers suggest that there are about 100,000 hectares of Malbec grown globally. Argentina is home to easily two-thirds of those vines with France coming in second. Malbec growers are now to be found in other New World countries, but usually for blending purposes.
Organic Malbec Wine Regions
Organic Malbec wine regions in France
There are records referring to the presence of organic Malbec in Cahors as far back as the sixteenth century, and it seems incredible that, given the quality of the wines, Cahors had to wait until 1971 to be recognised as an AOC. Here, the grapes ripe in the sun, surrounded by wooded hills, meadows, and shrubs; the latter often picked up in the wines’ aroma profile. 31% of the winemaker in the region have organic accreditation. The vineyards of Cahors are planted on two main types of terroirs, the limestone plateau known as the Causses and the alluvial soils of the Lot valley. The best organic Malbec wine regions in France are:
▪ Cahors & South-West
▪ Loire Valley
Organic Malbec wine regions in Argentina
▪ San Juan
Good Malbec wines are cultivated country-wide, albeit the lion’s share is in Mendoza.
The top six best Malbec wines, taste-tested from Vintage Roots
1. Domaine Bousquet Malbec (available in both 75cl and 37.5cl bottles) This has got to be one of the top Malbec wines to try, and a benchmark organic Malbec wine you’ll find, anywhere! Reviewing the 2020 wine in The Wine Enthusiast Magazine, Michael Schachner wrote, “The fresh and bouncy nose on this wine smells of blackberry, cassis and rubber, while the palate is vibrant and clean. Spicy, lightly herbal black-plum and black-cherry
flavours are warm on the finish.” The wine is unoaked and, as a result, the ripe, juicy fruit shines through and makes for an extremely food-friendly wine. A top Malbec in every way.
2. Domaine Bousquet Virgen Malbec No Added Sulphur Music to many ears, this no-added-sulphite organic Malbec wine has a fragrant and concentrated nose of black berries and violet. The palate has plentiful vibrant fruit with sweet spice, accompanied by touches of pepper and blue flowers. The Malbec fruit is all estate-grown at a very cool 4,000 feet above sea level, in the foothills of the Andes.
3. AOC Cahors Château de la Marjoliere The grapes for this wine come from vines planted on the terraces above the river Lot. Here the limestone soils are critical to yielding fruit that is both ripe and elegant. After fermentation the grapes were gently pressed to keep harsh tannins at bay. Aged for a
year in concrete to retain the wine’s natural freshness and purity of Malbec fruit. This is a highly recommended French Malbec wine with bright, ripe black fruits and super balance and length.
4. Alpha Loire Domaines Touraine Le Malbec With Argentina and Cahors, the two best-known places to find the best organic Malbec wine, we are thrilled to have a top Malbec made in the Loire Valley. It is a lovely, fresh expression of the variety – ripe blue fruits with cherry and red berries. It’s supple and moreish and very drinkable indeed.
5. Domaine Bousquet Gaia Red Blend Cheating just a bit here but we wanted to show just how good Malbec is in a blend. Here Malbec represents 50% of the blend, alongside 45% Syrah and a splash of Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine was aged for ten months in French oak. Writing about the 2018, wine critic Stephen Tanzer said, “Black fruits, liquorice, menthol and violet on the nose, accented by a peppery top note. Plush, savoury and fairly full-bodied; a seriously mouth filling, silky blend with a smoky, gamey, salty Syrah element and no rough edges whatsoever. Noteworthy flavour intensity and depth here, and also more horizontal than the Cabernet and Malbec Reserva bottlings. Finishes very long, with substantial but thoroughly ripe tannins and lingering notes of liquorice, spices, and violet. These top wines from Domaine Bousquet share a very subtle and successful use of used oak and offer outstanding value in an Old-World style.”
6. Domain Bousquet Ameri Single Vineyard Malbec Scoring 95 points in the Decanter Magazine tasting, “My Top 10 South American wines of 2021”, the panellists said of the wine, “Ameri is vinified from organically grown grapes sourced from selected rows in A Gualtallary vineyard at 1,200 meters. Alistair Cooper MW: Powerful, savoury aromas join sweet blueberry and cherry. Real structure, delicacy, and poise from prominent but integrated oak and textured, clay-like tannins. Beautiful freshness on the layered finish. Amanda Barnes: With a bright floral lift and freshness, this is a juicy vibrant Malbec that speaks of its cooler sub-region. Fresh red plums and wild herb notes add to the intrigue. A lovely wine with finesse and lots of energy. Dirceu Vianna Junior MW: Restrained but intense nose of ripe dark fruit, chocolate, florals, and spice. Excellent palate density, silky tannins, balancing freshness and a wonderful persistent finish.” 2019 vintage Vintage Roots work extensively with Domaine Bousquet in Argentina. You can read more about Argentinian organic wine here.
Malbec wine food pairings ideas
Let’s get steak out of the way. Yes, we know, Argentina, beef and all that but let’s see if we can’t tempt you with three alternatives you might not have considered.
● Malbec and the very British Cheddar are often a very good match. Macaroni cheese is one of those meals that can be elevated to what we like to call, homely gourmet status, if you make it with a really top-end Cheddar. We also like Simon Hopkinson’s version of the recipe. You can find it here or in his really excellent book, The Vegetarian Option. Recommended organic Malbec to pair? The Chilean Adobe Malbec Reserva
● You need to shop carefully, for sustainability purposes, but grilled swordfish is a surprisingly good match-up with Malbec. It’s easily done with a bit of seasoning and olive oil but if you want a recipe, Jamie Oliver has one here. Best organic Malbec to pair? We think the Malbec from Alpha Loire Domaines located in France’s Loire is just the ticket.
● Described brilliantly accurately as ‘drool-worthy’, Tom Kerridge’s Pulled Pork is one of those meals that is foodie heaven from start to finish. This pork dish demands a full-bodied, flavoursome organic Malbec and we suggest you look no further than the Château de la Marjolière Cahors.
Celebrate Malbec Day
Did you know that every year, on the 17th of April, we can celebrate World Malbec Day? The invention of Wines of Argentina you would be excused for thinking the date was randomly pulled from the diary hat. But no, there’s a story. As you now know, Malbec hailed originally from the south-west of France. It arrived in Argentina in the mid-nineteenth century, thanks to Frenchman, Michel Aimé Pouget, who was tasked with boosting and improving Argentina’s national wine industry. Legislation, which included the formation of a School of Agriculture was brought to the
then governor of Mendoza on April 17th, 1853. Readily given the stamp of approval, the legislation soon became law, and the Argentinean wine revolution began. If you want to show off your new-found Malbec knowledge, you can try out this quick Malbec quiz. Or celebrate in style and buy a case of deliciously lip-smacking organic Malbec wines from Vintage Roots. Shop organic Malbec wines or explore our website and get inspired for your next organic wine tasting experience.