Pronounce it: marl-bek

The Argentinian hero

Malbec was once one of the regular participants in Bordeaux blends. Today it has fallen out of favour. Further south in Gascony it still has a role to play in Cahors, producing dark and tannic 'black' wines.

Malbec was brought over to Chile in the nineteenth century, and is often known there by its French name of Cot. It is over the Andes in Argentina that it has been most successful - so much so that Malbec has almost become Argentina's keynote red, identifiable by its violet and plum aroma and smooth, supple tannins. The variety also pops up elsewhere in the world, and is becoming increasingly popular.

Main characteristics

Colour: red; deep ruby to very dark

Tastes include: expressive and flavoursome, full bodied and rich, with damson and black plums

AKA: Auxerrois (France), Cöt (Loire, France), Cot (Chile)

Often blended with: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot for Bordeaux-style blends

Spotter's guide: France: Cahors, Loire; Chile; Argentina, Australia, South Africa

Keep or drink? Drink; or keep the seriously fine wines

Price range: £4.99 to £30

Try it with

Steak with chunky chips & horseradish cream
A good steak & kidney pie
Steak supper for two or more