Malbec wine is one of the most beloved among dry red wines and has been a popular red wine for thousands of years. If you’re working on your own malbec, it pays to know the history of this varietal as well as the best yeast for malbec wine.
What Is Malbec Wine?
Malbec grapes were discovered in France by the Romans about 2000 years ago.
A temperamental grape, this vine is hard to plant, grow, and maintain as it is prone to rot, pests, and harsh weather conditions. It makes sense then that this crop is a relatively young one in the wine world.
The grapes are known for being small, dark purple, and can range from dark and astringent to jammy and fruit forward, depending on where they’re grown.
Originally from the Cahors region of France, where it is better known by its local name “cot,” malbec grapes are typically used in blends across France rather than on their own.
After several harsh weather patterns in the 1600s, however, Malbec grapes became almost extinct and were much less frequently used in wines. In the 1800s, the grape was brought to Argentina, and it has thrived there ever since.
It is almost as though this grape has always belonged in the sunny, warm climate of South America rather than the stormy, cold mountains of France all along.
This, of course, is not to say that malbec grapes are not still grown in Europe and other parts of the world. They are, and they do well.
But Argentina has come to be thought of as the home of malbec, and for good reason.
Malbec wines from Argentina tend to be both fruit forward and dry, so they retain their sweetness without being overpowering, and the alcohol levels remain high.
Malbec is also known for its strong tannic presence, making it a bolder wine than many other reds.
Malbec vs Merlot and Other Red Wines
When compared to other red wines, Malbec is one of the stronger flavors.
Merlot tends to have a brighter, ruby red color and brings more sweetness to the palate.
Pinot Noir is lighter and more aromatic, usually with less alcohol.
Malbec is often included in Cabernet Sauvignon blends, so the two wines are thought of as similar, though Malbec is drier than Cabernet.
Perhaps the most similar wine to Malbec is the Syrah, which originally began also in France but has since moved to and thrived in Australia as a Shiraz. Both wines are full of flavor without being too sweet and can still be considered bold, full wines.
Best Yeast for Malbec Wine
Among the hundreds of strains of Saccharomyces cerevisiae you can use to make red wine, the most universal for red wine is probably Montrachet, which will allow you to bring out complex flavors and aromas while quickly fermenting the grapes.
Montrachet is ideal for full-bodied, intense red wines like Malbec, and you can expect a pleasing flavor and aroma.
However, for higher alcohol content and more complexity, you might want to work with Pasteur Red, which is another fast-fermenting yeast.
Wild Local Yeasts
Of course, you can always work with nature.
If you have managed to grow Malbec grapes on your land, a strong theory would argue that you also have the wild, local yeasts to support the fermentation of those grapes.
You could, as many small winemakers do today, harvest and crush your grapes and then allow them to ferment naturally with the yeast already on the skins rather than adding a commercially processed yeast that may or may not perform according to your hopes and expectations.
It is a worthy experiment, and one that reclaims the ways of our ancestor winemakers, taking the guesswork out of the process entirely.
Either way you go, remember that making wine, like perfecting any craft, is heavily reliant on your willingness to experiment, to take risks, and to try new things.
It’s a long, drawn-out process that often takes a lifetime to master.
But it’s so worth it.
Did you know that propagating wine yeast can help you significantly reduce production costs? Join the hundreds of vintners from all around the world using the Smartest Automated Yeast Cell Counter to save thousands of dollars in yeast and prevent costly issues such as stuck fermentation!
Request a Free Demo Account today and experience firsthand how Oculyze can take your winery to the next level!