Malbec enjoys the sun and warm, dry weather even more than Cabernet Sauvignon. It has thin skins and is susceptible to spring frosts. Humidity can cause mildew and rot in the grape. It is important that Malbec is harvested only when fully ripe. When mature, the flavor profile is dominated by plum and anise.
Malbec has found a home in California primarily as a blending grape. Some California vintners include Malbec in Meritage blends. Typically it is a small component and is added as an accent.
In Bordeaux, Merlot has largely taken over Malbec’s role. The frost of 1956 decimated Malbec vines throughout the region, and grape has never fully recovered. But it remains the primary component in Cahors where it is often called Auxerrois.
In Argentina, Malbec does particularly well as a single varietal. It makes full bodied, almost inky wines that go well with stews and braised or simmered dishes. Higher altitudes allow for a longer growing season and more hang time; crucial for top quality Malbec.
Unfortunately, many of these vines were not planted on phylloxera resistant rootstocks and are gradually being replanted. This continues to be an expensive and burdensome process.
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