Learn the Difference: Argentinian Malbec vs. French Malbec | Wine Folly (2023)

France is the place of origin of Malbec, but Argentina is now home to nearly 70% of the Malbec vineyards of the world. Thus, your very first taste of Malbec could have been from Mendoza, Argentina. There is a dramatic difference in taste between the two regions and this is because Malbec really shows how terroir affects wine.

Argentinian Malbec vs. French Malbec

Learn the Difference: Argentinian Malbec vs. French Malbec | Wine Folly (1)

An instant definition of ‘terroir’

Terroir encompasses all the regional factors that define the taste of a wine grape including sun, soil, the slant of a hillside, proximity to a body of water, climate, weather and altitude. Terroir happens before a winemaker even touches the grapes. Any winemaker worth his/her salt will tell you: great wine is made in the vineyard, not in the cellar. Read more about Terroir

Malbec taste by region

  • Argentina Malbec = Fruit-forward, plummy with a velvety texture
  • French Malbec = Savory, tart, firm tannins, plum, meat and blackberry

Learn the Difference: Argentinian Malbec vs. French Malbec | Wine Folly (2)
This uber-popular varietal is a household name thanks to Argentina, but it still has a foothold in southwest France where it originated. Same grape, two very different wines. A Malbec from Argentina tends to be plummy and fruit-forward, with a velvety soft texture. In France, Malbec tends to have more structure, firmer tannins, and an inky dark, brooding quality.

(Video) France vs Argentina Malbec Wine

Why does Malbec show Terroir better than other grapes?

Learn the Difference: Argentinian Malbec vs. French Malbec | Wine Folly (4)
Malbec growing in limestone soils in Cahors, France. source

This thin-skinned “black grape” is something of a rustic relative of Merlot so it shares its sensitivity to rot, frost, and pests. Thus, having ideal growing conditions are extremely important to the final product. Perfect conditions include ample sunshine and a dry climate to thrive. Too much sunshine, however, will turn wines into flabby fruit bombs with little structure (alcoholic soda pop, anyone?). In short, Malbec is a fickle grape and it’s more sensitive to the climate.

Other sensitive red wines?
Merlot, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Malbec and Sangiovese are sponges to their environments.

Learn the Difference: Argentinian Malbec vs. French Malbec | Wine Folly (5)

(Video) Getting Started With French Wine | Wine Folly

Tip: Young Malbec has a hot pink-tinged rim. Find out more about Malbec

Limestone gives Malbec high tannin and color

In the limestone soils of the Cahors region, Malbec produces its darkest, most tannic manifestation, showing blackberry fruit in its youth, and tobacco, coffee, and meaty notes as it ages. This is partly due to the calcium component in limestone, which helps maintain acidity late into the growing season for the grape, and contributes to structure in the glass. The vines thrive in the arid, limestone plateau called the Causses, which has a thin topsoil that forces the roots to dig deeply for nutrients. Hardworking roots equate to more concentrated grapes and a deeper wine.

Sunshine gives Malbec a fruitiness

In Mendoza, where 70 percent of Argentina’s wine — mostly Malbec — is grown, conditions are even sunnier and even drier. Here, at the foot of the Andes, the grape makes rich, robust wines with brambly black mountain fruit and sweet floral notes. With scarce rain, early summer hail, and a forceful gale called the Zonda, the vines here have to dig deep into the alluvial sand and clay soils which have formed over time from mineral deposits left by snow melt running down the Andes. The clay allows the vines to root deeply and thus soak up more of the soil’s minerals. The sand provides for good drainage, an important factor in keeping rot at bay.

Learn the Difference: Argentinian Malbec vs. French Malbec | Wine Folly (6)

Madeline talks about the potential of Argentinian Malbec (video)

One of the most significant factors in Mendoza’s terroir are the jagged Andes that dominate the skyline. Mount Aconcagua tops out at over 23,000 ft. and is the tallest in the Americas. The mountains provide altitude and cooler air, which slows down the ripening process and is essential to ensure the grapes develop enough acidity in this very sunny region. The grapes have the chance to develop full, ripe, fruity characteristics, while still building acid to ward off the soda-pop effect. The big temperature swings between day and night help enhance this ripeness/acidity tango. The resulting wine shows riper, fruitier notes thanks to the longer time in a more intense sun that high altitude provides.

(Video) Great Value Malbec: French and Argentinian Taste Special

A lil’ history of Malbec’s Origins

Learn the Difference: Argentinian Malbec vs. French Malbec | Wine Folly (7)
Vineyards in Cahors along the Lot River. source

For centuries, Malbec played a supporting roll in Bordeaux blends but it often underperformed because of its sensitivity. Further up the Garonne River from Bordeaux, Malbec has done very well in southwest France, particularly the Cahors appellation. The cooling breezes from the Atlantic keep the vines rot-free, while warm daytime temperatures and Mediterranean influence allows grapes to ripen. In Cahors, Malbec is called ‘Cot’ and in the Middle Ages it was called “black wine” for its deep, purple-ebony hue.

Learn the Difference: Argentinian Malbec vs. French Malbec | Wine Folly (8)

About the Author Kate Soto is the manager of winegoddess.com a wine retail store that offers wine classes, a wine club and private events in Evanston, Illinois.

(Video) Malbec vs Cabernet Sauvignon: What's the Difference?


What is the French equivalent of Malbec? ›

Syrah. Both Syrah and Malbec share many fruit flavor characteristics. Both are also indigenous to France, however, they found homes far away from their origins in the New World. While Malbec became world-renowned from Argentina, Syrah quickly gained popularity from Australia where it is also known as Shiraz.

What are the tasting notes of French Malbec? ›

Malbec Tasting Notes by Region

From the Cahors region, it is leathery, with flavors of tart currant, black plum, and savory bitterness often described as green at the start. French Malbecs, from the Loire and Cahors, have higher acidity, which attributes to flavors described as black pepper and spice.

What is Argentinian Malbec? ›

Malbec is a full-bodied red wine that originated in France but grows mostly in Argentina. While French Malbec is more savory and tart, with firm tannins and flavors of plum and leather, Argentinian Malbec is more fruit forward, with a velvet texture and flavors of cocoa and plum.

What does Argentinian Malbec taste like? ›

The palate of this Argentine wine opens up with juicy notes of black cherry, plum, and blackberry. There are also nuanced flavors of milk chocolate, cocoa powder, and leather. In some cases, depending on the amount of oak aging, Argentinian Malbec could have a sweet tobacco finish.

What is the difference between French and Argentinian Malbec? ›

A Malbec from Argentina tends to be plummy and fruit-forward, with a velvety soft texture. In France, Malbec tends to have more structure, firmer tannins, and an inky dark, brooding quality.

Is there a French Malbec wine? ›

French Malbec wine can trace its origins back to the days of the Roman Empire. Roman soldiers planted vineyards as they built roads in what we now know as Southwest France. Impressed by the dark color and intense tannins of the resulting Malbec wine, they referred to it as the “Black Wine of Cahors.”

Does all Malbec taste the same? ›

While the Malbec grape originated in France (in the Cahors region), the Argentinian Malbec is the most celebrated. The two taste very different — while an Argentinian bottle is plummy and soft in texture, a French bottle is quite tart and savory.

Is Malbec a good beginner wine? ›

While malbec as a grape is often touted for tannins (the components in wine that add structure but dry out your mouth), I don't encounter strong tannins in many malbecs. This makes malbec a good red wine for beginners.

Is Malbec sweet or sour? ›

Malbec is dry rather than sweet, but the plush intensity gives this wine a hint of sweetness, so it's not as dry as Cabernet Sauvignon, for example. Barefoot Malbec features hints of blackberry, blackcurrant, vanilla, caramel and a hint of toasted oak, so it's better known for rich complexity than sweetness.

Which country makes the best Malbec? ›

Argentina doesn't just produce the best quality malbec wines, but they also produce some of the most affordable quality malbec wines.

Should Malbec be refrigerated? ›

Best Storage Temperature for Malbec

The best temperature for storing Malbec is 12-15°C (55°–59°F). You can store Malbec in a wine cellar, wine fridge, or cabinet.

Is Malbec the healthiest red wine? ›

As an especially thick-skinned variety, Malbec claims higher antioxidant levels than other red wines especially in terms of resveratrol. This variety has two to four times the amount of anti-inflammatory, health boosting antioxidants than other popular red wines like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

How long does Malbec last once opened? ›

For fuller bodied reds such as Malbec or Shiraz, these can last nearer to 5 or 6 days due to the higher tannins and the slightly higher alcohol levels these varieties tend to have, which slow the ageing process.

What is the best way to drink Malbec? ›

Malbec wines are best served in a traditional red wine glass, slightly chilled, somewhere in the realm of 60-65 degrees.

What should I drink if I like Malbec? ›

Top Wines Similar to Malbec
  • Cabernet Sauvignon.
  • Merlot.
  • Pinot Noir.
  • Zinfandel.
  • Sangiovese.
  • Bonarda.
  • Syrah.
  • Dolcetto.
Jul 21, 2022

Why does Malbec do so well in Argentina? ›

Argentine malbec is no longer just decent volume wines. The vineyards planted on higher altitudes, on the Andes' mountain slopes, benefits from a cooler climate. Traditionally, vineyards have been planted on the plains. At higher altitudes, it is easier to retain the acidity in the wines.

Why is Malbec only made in Argentina? ›

Even though Malbec grapes thrive in the sun, they can't withstand high temperatures. The high altitude Argentinian vineyards, which have a dry and cooler climate, is perfect growing conditions for Malbec. These 'sunny' Argentinian Malbec grapes end up producing a more jammy, fruit-forward and softer wine.

Which red wine is best of France? ›

Top 10 French Red Wines for 2022
  1. Domaine Pontifical Châteauneuf du Pape 2016. ...
  2. Domaine Coste-Caumartin Beaune Premier Cru Les Chouacheux 2018. ...
  3. Domaine Raspail-Ay Gigondas 2019. ...
  4. Chateau Les Bertrands Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux Nectar des Bertrands 2018. ...
  5. Pierre Gaillard Collioure Magenca 2018. ...
  6. Domaine Matray Saint Amour 2020.

What happened to French Malbec? ›

For French Malbec, things took a very different turn. The grape went missing for almost a century due to phylloxera, war, frost and the replanting of other varieties. It wasn't until the 1970s that the Vigouroux family bought an abandoned Château in Cahors and helped bring Malbec back to life.

What is French red wine called? ›

Grenache Noir, Syrah, Mourvedre, Carignan, Tannat, Cabernet Sauvignon are some of the red wine grape varieties grown in Provence.

Which is better Malbec or Pinot Noir? ›

Malbec is meatier, grittier, has more structure, whereas pinot noir is light, aromatic, and low in alcohol content. Malbec has a moderate to high tannin content whereas pinot noir is light on tannins, leading some to consider it a more accessible easy-drinking red.

What is the Malbec grape called in France? ›

Malbec is a French variety that was widely planted throughout the Middle Ages in different regions in France, where it was so common that it had over 1,000 synonyms. Local growers would give Malbec a local name – Auxerrois, Pressac, Doux Noir, Quercy and Plant du Lot were just a few.

Do you serve Malbec warm or cold? ›

Pinot Noir is best served between 55-60°F, while Merlot, Syrah, Zinfandel, Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon are best served between 60-65°F. If you're storing your wine in a warm area, such as your kitchen, put a bottle of red in the fridge about 30 minutes before you're ready to serve it.

Is Malbec a light or heavy wine? ›

And finally, Malbec is a wonderful example of a world famous full bodied red wine. It's produced in Chile and France, but Argentina leads the production of the grape. It's an easy drinking medium tannin wine presenting fruits like black cherry, pomegranate, plum and raisin.

Should you let Malbec breathe? ›

Whether it's a young Napa Cab, an Argentine Malbec or Aussie Shiraz, these wines typically need a dose of oxygen to smooth out any roughness and soften tannins. Of course, if you enjoy the punch that these wines can pack straight out of the bottle, there's no need to delay.

Is Malbec good for your heart? ›

Malbec, a smooth red wine with notes of blackberry and chocolate, has high levels of antioxidants and has been linked to both heart health and immune health.

Is Malbec better than Shiraz? ›

Malbec Wine vs Shiraz Wine

While Malbec and Shiraz are both fruity, full-bodied wines, Shiraz is slightly more complex. Malbec is smoother with notes of plum, blackcurrant, and vanilla, whereas Shiras is smoky and spicy, delivering a peppery finish on the palate.

Is Pinot Noir sweeter than Malbec? ›

Let's start easy: both are considered dry red wines. Like Pinot Noir, Merlot wine has less than 0.5g of residual sugar, making it an extremely dry wine. On the other hand, Malbec wine is sweeter, with around 1.5g of residual sugar.

What food pairs with Malbec? ›

You'll find Malbec a great match for steak, pork, and lamb, as well as fattier fish like salmon and poultry with dark meat. Game meat—like bison, ostrich, and venison—are also a safe bet. In addition to meat pairings, consider foods with richer sauces or more vibrant flavors.

Is Malbec full of sugar? ›

Malbec: An Argentinian wine that has plum and cherry flavors. It is medium to full-bodied wine is higher alcohol content and, because of that, is low in sugar. Very close to being almost entirely fermented, Malbecs are a dry wine that offers fewer than 1.5 grams of sugar per glass of red wine.

Is Costco Malbec good? ›

This one is very similar to the prior vintage, and we're going to rate it the same at 88 points. It's right there among the best vintages of this Malbec that we've tasted. Hard to beat at this price.

What is the most popular red wine in the world? ›

Cabernet Sauvignon is the world's most popular red wine. It only takes opening one delicious bottle to understand why. Its full body, prominent tannins, moderate acidity and dryness perfectly complement fruity overtones of blackberry, black cherry and plum.

Can you drink red wine 7 days after opening? ›

In general, table wines last three to five days after they've been opened. Fortified wines, or dessert wines, like Port and Sherry, can last much longer; some say months or even years.

How long should you let Malbec breathe? ›

Medium-Bodied Red Wines: 30-60 minutes. A few examples include Cabernet Franc, Grenache, Merlot, Malbec, Barbera, Dolcetto, and Tempranillo. Full-Bodied Red Wines: 60 minutes or more.

Does Malbec wine go bad? ›

Full-Bodied Red Wine

When sealed and stored in a cool, dark place or a fridge, red wines like Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Malbec can last for around four days. As a general rule, red wines with higher tannin and acidity tend to last longer once opened.

Which wine is best for brain? ›

Pinot noir: This is the healthiest red wine due to its high concentration of resveratrol, an antioxidant compound that lowers bad cholesterol and high blood pressure. Some studies also suggest that it can improve brain health, kill cancer cells, and increase insulin sensitivity.

What kind of wine is good for kidneys? ›

Even though both red wine and white wine have similar impacts on health but red wine has a slightly higher composition of vitamins and minerals which boosts the condition of the kidneys and reduces the risks of chronic kidney diseases.

What wine is best for stomach problems? ›

Why Red Wine Is Better Than White Wine for Gut Health. Researchers say people who drink a moderate amount of red wine have better gut health.

What happens if you refrigerate red wine? ›

Just as you store open white wine in the refrigerator, you should refrigerate red wine after opening. Beware that more subtle red wines, like Pinot Noir, can start turning "flat" or taste less fruit-driven after a few days in the refrigerator.

Does wine go bad in the fridge? ›

If you're wondering how long wine can last after opening, a bottle of white or rosé wine should be able to keep going for at least two to three days in the fridge, if using a cork stopper. But it varies depending on the style involved. Some wine styles may last for up to five days after opening.

Can you drink red wine 6 months after opening? ›

Yes. Drinking old opened wine is not harmful as no dangerous bacteria are present. Even if the wine appears to have mold, you won't get ill from drinking it (unlike with spoiled food, for example.) However, the flavor and aroma of spoiled wine or corked wine (cork taint) won't be pleasant and can taste weird.

Do you refrigerate Malbec wine after opening? ›

The bottles should not be exposed to direct light, natural or artificial. Do not store Malbec in the fridge or in the freezer. Both are too cold and will spoil the wine. After opening it, drink Malbec within two or three days.

How do you store Malbec wine after opening? ›

Keep the open wine bottle out of light and stored under room temperature. In most cases, a refrigerator goes a long way to keeping wine for longer, even red wines. When stored at colder temperatures, the chemical processes slow down, including the process of oxidation that takes place when oxygen hits the wine.

Why is Malbec wine so good? ›

Full-flavoured foods pair best because Malbec is a fuller-bodied wine. Malbec produces red wines with medium acidity and medium tannins. Through the full flavours, and medium acidity, Malbec is less overwhelming or niche on the palette, making this flavour more popular.

What wine tastes the most like a Malbec? ›

Syrah is more similar to Old World Malbec with its notes of olive, black pepper spice, smoke, and even bacon fat in some instances. It is commonly seen as a single variety wine or can be blended with other grape varieties such as Grenache and Mourvedre in Côtes du Rhône blends.

Can you drink Malbec with pasta? ›

Malbec can also be a good wine pairing for pasta. Meaty pasta dishes, such as Spaghetti bolognese or pasta with meatballs, will pair well with Malbec. Pasta with salsiccia or other sausages will also be good pasta pairings for a bottle of Malbec.

Is Malbec high in resveratrol? ›

Resveratrol is strongly associated with red grapes and red wine made from grapes. Wines such as Malbec, Petite Sirah, St. Laurent, and Pinot Noir have the highest resveratrol content. Malbec grapes have the thickest skin and, therefore, the highest content of resveratrol.

Is Cabernet Franc similar to Malbec? ›

Malbec and Cabernet Franc are two less well-known grapes worthy of your attention. Malbec and Cabernet Franc aren't the same and make two distinctive red wines. They are both red grapes originally from France, but Malbec comes from the Bordeaux region and Cabernet Franc is likely from Burgundy.

What is most similar to a Malbec? ›

Top Wines Similar to Malbec
  • Cabernet Sauvignon.
  • Merlot.
  • Pinot Noir.
  • Zinfandel.
  • Sangiovese.
  • Bonarda.
  • Syrah.
  • Dolcetto.
Aug 10, 2022

What is the difference between Malbec and Bordeaux? ›

Both can age a long time and will offer meat aromas when aged several years in the bottle. However, aromas will be different. With Malbec, you can expect a lot of black fruits whereas Bordeaux wine is more balanced and offers red fruits too.

What is Chateauneuf du Pape similar to? ›

Grenache and Syrah feature heavily in the list, but there are also some more unusual picks that should offer a similar flavour profile, such as the Spanish variety Prieto Precudo.

What is the earthiest red wine? ›


It is one of the earthiest red wines on the market, low in lingering acidity, yet holding a bold, aromatically spiced finish many relish. Tempranillo courts a higher presence of oak than other red wines as well.

Which is nicer Malbec or Merlot? ›

Merlot and malbec are similar easy-drinking reds and both are used in Bordeaux blends, but they have certain differences as well: Malbec is more tangy and fruity than merlot and therefore tastes thinner, where Merlot is more full-bodied and smooth. Malbec is more commonly paired with spicy foods.

Is Malbec similar to Chianti? ›

A little lighter body than Cabernet Sauvignon and a smidge less sweet than Italian Chianti wines, Malbec offers ripe berry treasure—think plump cherries, blackberries, and succulent plums for good measure. Some in the wine industry might call this dry, medium- to full-bodied, and medium- to high-tannin and acidity.

Which country has best Malbec? ›

Argentina doesn't just produce the best quality malbec wines, but they also produce some of the most affordable quality malbec wines.

Do you refrigerate Malbec? ›

Contrary to popular belief, red wine isn't always best served at room temperature. Malbec wine is no exception. Before serving Malbec, try popping it in the fridge for half an hour. This should cool it to just below room temperature, and will allow you to experience Malbec's full depth of flavor.

What is the parent grape of Malbec? ›

The analysis revealed that Malbec and Merlot share the same female parent, a long-forgotten cultivar recently renamed Magdeleine Noire des Charentes. The male parent of Malbec is Prunelard, an old and endangered cultivar from southwest France.

Which is healthier Malbec or Pinot Noir? ›

In addition, pinot noir has the lowest sugar content and the least amount of calories among red wines. Malbec: Due to their thick skin, Malbec grapes have a high concentration of resveratrol, quercetin, and other antioxidants that can improve cardiovascular and immune health.

What wine does the Vatican use? ›

While the Catholic Church generally adheres to the rule that all wine for sacramental use must be pure grape wine and alcoholic it is accepted that there are some circumstances, where it may be necessary to use a wine that is only minimally fermented, called mustum.

What wine does the Pope use? ›

Yes, there is a wine that is so wonderful, so regal, that it's considered the wine of the popes: Châteauneuf du Pape. Like all French wines, this majestic beverage is named after the region of Châteauneuf du Pape, an area in the Rhone wine region of southeastern France.


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