Malbec, if you’re a winemaker is either one of the most confusing and confounding grapes around anywhere, or is among the easiest to work with in the world.
Native to Bordeaux originally, the grape is one of the six allowable plantings in Bordeaux. However, Malbec almost went extinct in Bordeaux some decades ago because while it has always had an inky black color in France, there isn’t much else to write home about the grape. Petite Verdot also offers a better set of color and acidity.
So Malbec, along with Carmenere for that matter, almost went extinct in the region and therefore the world.
Luckily though a few plantings made their way to Argentina and the grape in South American soil, can’t be considered to be anything less than a revelation.
In Argentina, Malbec continues to retain it’s inky color but instead of what French vintners complain about, lack of aroma and lack of flavor, there tends to be plenty of both.
Many simply say that the grape tends to like South American soil and climate better, but a more sinister explanation can be at play as well. Some time ago, Phylloexera ran wild through France and destroyed in some regions, the entirety of their vines. Given how vines need to be cut, instead of grown from seeds, pests are a major issue.
Given that the berries being produced in Argentina tend to be smaller, as well as in tighter bunches (both are assumed to be good things for wine btw) there is some debate if the grapes being grown in Argentina aren’t actually a now extinct (in France at least) type of Malbec that simply makes better wine than what you have elsewhere.
There’s a long history of Malbec across multiple continents, people either don’t like the grape (historically) or won’t pay more than $10 for a bottle. Those consumer sentiments do seem to be changing, which is a good thing for the grape over the short and medium term. Over the long term, Malbec is destined to continue having a home in Argentina and other smaller spots should come up as well.