The Malbec varietal began in the Bordeaux region of France as a grape to be blended with Bordeaux reds, because the Malbec grape embodied robust characteristics that brought out the tannins of red wines. Bordeaux lost a great deal of trust in the Malbec grape after the devasting effects the weather had on the grapes in 1956 when 75% of the Bordeaux crops were destroyed by frost.

Today, Malbec is not a primary varietal of France, but the South West region known as Cahors continues to grow Malbec in great numbers. The frost of 1956 did not stop the Cahors region, and growers decided to reshape growing techniques after the destruction, and this resulted in an improved Malbec grape with stronger capabilites. Now Malbec is blended with Merlots and Tannats of Cahors, and Cahors even produces 100% Malbec reds.

The Malbec varietal is grown in a few other regions of France, but the name has changed over time, so though vineyards are growing the Malbec varietal the opposing names diverge attention from Malbec on the wine spectrum. For instance, in Cahors Malbec is called Auxerrois or Cot Noir, and in other regions Malbec is referred to as Pressac. The change of name has diminished the attention and publicity of the Malbec varietal. A French ampelographer and experienced viticulturalist named Pierre Galet claims that Cot was the original birth name of Malbec, and the varietal was primarily dominant in the northern region of Burgundy.

There is an old folk tale of a Hungarian peasant who is believed to be responsible for spreading the Malbec grape throughout France. Some say this peasant was the first to come in close contact with the grape, and this led him to grow fields of the grape in various regions. Historians and scholars have not researched this tale, so little fact constructs the base of the argument.

However, the introduction of Malbec to Argentina has a clear-cut story. In the mid 19th century, roughly in 1868, French agronomist Miguel Pouget brought Malbec vines and grapes from Bordeaux to Argentina as a request from Argentina’s 7th president Domingo Faustino Sarmiento. The Malbec varietal flourished in the high altitude, continental climate of Argentina, which is the chief incentive for Malbec to be produced in Argentina and consumed in mass quantities.

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