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Malbec

The official French name for this variety is Cot. Malbec, sometimes spelt Malbeck, is an approved synonym. In 1988 there were 5280 ha of Malbec in France, compared with 10 750 ha in 1958. About half is in Gironde, most of the rest in the departements to the east of Bordeaux, and some in the Loire Valley. It does not seem to have spread elsewhere in Europe and there are less than 45 ha in California, but it is one of the most important black varieties in Argentina with 10 000 ha. There are 6000 ha in Chile. There would seem to be more than 300 ha of true Malbec, much of which has been planted since 1970. Malbec is a vigorous variety with a rather spreading habit of growth. It has medium, rough, dark green leaves, usually 3-lobed but sometimes entire or 5-lobed, tending to roll back at the edges, with scattered tufts of hair on the lower surface. The open V of the petiolar sinus is characteristic. The bunches are medium, well filled if set is favourable, with rather small, round berries. The variety has the potential for yielding well and can tolerate rain at harvest but has the defect of setting very poorly in some seasons. Мalbec can be pruned to either canes or spurs and as the berries are not very firmly attached mechanical harvesting should be possible with little damage. With moderate yields in cooler areas Malbec makes a balanced wine of good colour which has a less intense varietal aroma and is softer than Cabernet wines. It combines well with the other Bordeaux varieties to give wines designed for earlier maturity rather than very long holding.