A grape that many associate with Argentina, where it is one of the leading grapes for premium red wines, especially in Mendoza including its top region, the Uco Valley. However exciting Malbecs are now also produced further South, in Patagonia. Malbec makes a third of all Argentinian red wine, and Argentina now is the largest Malbec producer in the world.
Good to know; Malbec is not originally form Argentina, which might baffle some. It used to be grown in Bordeaux, and still is to a very small proportion, although most vintners have chosen other grapes after the phylloxera crisis.
Another classic French example is Cahors, where Malbec often is referred to as Côt. Here Malbec is mostly bottled as a single varietal, although internationally you will often also see it as a blending partner for other Bordeaux grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot. And in Bordeaux it still is known as the synonym Pressac.
To me Malbec often is a challenge in blind tastings. One of the best tips I ever got was a colleague who told me “Look for violets – both in colour and on the nose.” Malbec will often show a lilac / violet, almost pink / magenta, hue in the glass and shows typical “Bordeaux markers” but often with the addition of the floral violet touch and very lush plum and blueberry. French Malbec will often also show a leathery and peppery touch.
For Food Pairing, when thinking about Argentina, naturally beef steak comes to mind. And it does work well with Malbec, as do other strong meat dishes too. However, other earthy and smoky dishes are also a good match, i.e. a mushroom risotto as a vegetarian option.
One Malbec I would like to recommend for you to try is the one by Marcelo Pelleriti Wines. Former winemaker in Pomerol (including Château Le Gay & Château La Violette) and passionate musician he is now back on his home turf, and shows how elegant and fruit forward Malbec can be even in its youth. Salud!