What's in a Name: The Rise of Malbec

Much like the soaring popularity of Zinfandel, many attribute Malbec’s now worldwide status in part to the ease of pronunciation. Others point more toward its deep inky hue and lush berry flavors. But no matter which camp you’re in, one thing is certain: Malbec has taken America by storm. So what is this Argentine grape? And just where did it come from?

Malbec hails from France, more specifically Bordeaux and Cahors. Though used as a blending grape in the more famous region to the north, it stood firmly on its own two feet for centuries in the southern region of Cahors. Lending itself perfectly to both the climate and terrain, Malbec gained an international reputation for producing wine so dark it was coined “the black wine of Cahors.” But its celebrity was short lived. The devastation of the phylloxera louse set loose upon Malbec, all but wiping it out of existence. French winemakers eager to not lose their shirts uprooted themselves and their vines, landing in Argentina to start anew and refresh the once famous grape of Cahors under the new illustrious moniker “the flagship red of Argentina.” It became so popular that today, many believe the southern hemisphere to be both parent and sole home to Malbec. 

A small amount is planted in Napa Valley. The native grape of Southern France is making a resurgence there, as well, now that a suitable rootstock able withstand the limestone soils of Cahors has been found. Enjoy!


Bringing in Malbec on Howell Mountain