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Malbec Around the World

Sunday is International Malbec Day. Herewith, some information on the grape variety. Malbec is indigenous to southwestern France, where it is known by its original name: Côt. Côt (Malbec) is the offspring of two obscure French grapes—Magdeleine Noire des Charentes and Prunelard. While Côt/Malbec is one of the five grapes that can be legally blended to make red Bordeaux, plantings of it in Bordeaux have been declining for a long time. In the mid-nineteenth century, the grape was brought from Bordeaux to Argentina where it is now the leading grape for fine red wines. There, Malbec is grown in the dry, sunny, extremely high-altitude vineyards that, like steps, descend from the peaks of the Andes. And, in contrast to Bordeaux, Malbec in Argentina is almost always made as a single varietal, rather than as part of a blend. Malbec tends to be low in acidity and slightly less tannic than Cabernet Sauvignon. Indeed, it’s prized for its soft, mouthfilling texture (the wine equivalent of molten chocolate cake), its deep inky color, and its plummy, mocha, and earthy aromas and flavors.

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