Malbec vs Pinot Noir: What Are 8 Important Differences To Know?

Malbec vs Pinot Noir
This is our comparison of Malbec vs Pinot Noir wine. Do you know what are the important differences to know? Enjoy!

This is our comparison of Malbec vs Pinot Noir wine. We’ve extensively researched these two popular wines to help you pick the best for you.

Malbec is the most important black grape planted in Argentina and offers very good value for money.

It’s known for its deep color, full body, high tannins, intense back fruit flavors, and vanilla and spice notes from oak ageing. 

Pinot Noir, when young, is a fruity and refreshing wine. The finest bottles evolve in flavours and complexity thanks to the long maturation.

Our recommendation for Best Value Malbec is Salentein Reserve Malbec (Barrel Selection) and for Best Overall is Viña Cobos Bramare Malbec Lujan de Cuyo 2019.

Our recommendation for Best Value Pinot Noir is Belle Glos Dairyman Vineyard Pinot Noir and for Best Overall is Domaine Daniel Rion & Fils Échezeaux Grand Cru 2017.

You’ll find below our recommendation for you.

Let’s begin with the review!

Wine Selection Overview

Find below our Malbec vs Pinot Noir wine selection for you where you’ll find our recommendation for you.

Malbec Selection

La Posta Pizzella Malbec (Pizzella Family Vineyard) 2019
4.1/5

Beautiful red/purple color with aromas of black cherries, dark fruits, dark chocolate and bakers spice.

On the palate, the wine shows dense dark berry and plum flavors along with hints of sandalwood and spice, and even a hint of violets in the finish.

Full-bodied and well-structured.

Salentein Reserve
Malbec (Barrel
Selection)
4/5

Intense, purplish red color. It is fresh and complex to the nose.

It brings spicy aromas of nutmeg mingled with delicate floral notes.

It is very intense, juicy and fresh in the mouth with a good structure and a long finish.

Viña Cobos Bramare Malbec Lujan de Cuyo 2019
4.5/5

This wine is a Vivino Editor’s Pick, and this is what he has to say:

“Multiple 100-Point Winemaking Phenom Paul Hobbs’ Fan-Favorite Argentine Red Returns! With a Mind-boggling Number of Perfect 5.0/5.0 Reviews, This Malbec Can’t Be Ignored!”

Aromas of pepper, cloves, cinnamon and other spices, along with black fruits and roses.

Pinot Noir Selection

Meiomi Pinot
Noir
4.1/5

Deep garnet color. Luxurious and dynamic aromas of ripe strawberry, bright cherry and faint notes of spicy oak and vanilla.

The complexity of the palate smoothly layers rich red currant notes and baking spice flavors with light smoke, earth and leather.

A balanced, velvety texture and supple tannins carry the wine through to a lingering, succulent finish.

Belle Glos Dairyman Vineyard Pinot Noir
4.4/5

Bright crimson red in color. Aromas of black cherry and ripe plums combine with subtle notes of dried herbs and smoke.

The palate entry shows flavors of cranberry, fresh raspberry, and ripe cherry, complemented by hints of vanilla and baking spice.

A balance of savory, cedar and cocoa powder, and sweet, fig jam and ripe blackberry, round out the mouth-feel.

Échezeaux Grand Cru 2017
4.8/5

Tenderness and magnitude. They are often open, expressive , precocious.

They show great flexibility , supported by continued seeming velvet mouth.

Raspberry flavors, rosehip characterize in his youth.

Comparison

Let’s now take a closer look at the difference between Malbec vs Pinot Noir so that you’ll have enough details to make an informed decision.

Malbec vs Pinot Noir: Where are they produced?

Here you’ll find a brief overview of Malbec vs Pinot Noir from regions and wine styles points of view.

Malbec is a grape variety that needs high-altitude, sun and heat to mature and bring deep color, tannins and the typical plum note.

Soil wise it gives it best in limestone soil, like those of Cahors.

Here is a quick overview of the various styles:

  • Argentina Malbec has a deep color, intense fruity flavors with a velvety texture. Expect higher acidity than the French version, and cocoa powder notes.

  • Cahors AOC (French Malbec) is a blend of at least 70% Malbec plus Merlot and Tannat. Has a moderate acidity and tannic structure.

  • USA Malbec is primarily produced in California, Oregon and Washington. Expects dark fruit and herbal notes.

  • Australia Malbec usually growth at lower altitude compared to Argentinian Malbec. Expect softer tannins, violet and aromatic notes.

Find more about Malbec here.

Pinot Noir gives its best in a cool to moderate climate. The grape has thin skin and it’s quite delicate.

When grown in a warm climate it can lose its freshness and taste too cooked from excessive ripening of the grapes. Despite that, it’s cultivated around the world.

Here is a quick overview:

  • In cool climates, like Burgundy in France, expect red fruit and subtle oak aromas, mushroom and forest floor.

  • In warm climates, like California, expect ripe red fruit and intense vanilla flavors. The finest examples develop mushroom and forest floor flavors. 

Find more about Pinot Noir here.

Malbec vs Pinot Noir: Which grapes are used to produce them?

Here you’ll find a brief overview of Malbec vs Pinot Noir from a grape point of view.

Malbec is produced from Malbec grapes.

Pinot Noir is produced from Pinot Noir.

Both are red-wine grape varieties of the species Vitis vinifera.

Malbec vs Pinot Noir: What's their alcohol content?

Here you’ll find a brief overview of Malbec vs Pinot Noir from an alcohol content point of view.

Alcohol content or more precisely Alcohol By Volume, i.e. ABV, measures the alcoholic strength of a drink.

There is a direct relationship between the sugar left in the wine after the alcoholic fermentation has taken place, i.e. Residual Sugar or RS, and ABV.

During the alcoholic fermentation, the yeast transforms the sugar in the grape juice into alcohol. Grapes with high residual sugar will therefore produce dry wine with a high ABV.

Malbec’s ABV is usually between 13.5% to 15%, whereas Pinot Noir’s ABV ranges between 11.5% to 15% depending on the style. 

Malbec vs Pinot Noir: What's their taste profile?

Here you’ll find a brief overview of Malbec vs Pinot Noir from a taste profile point of view.

Malbec is a dry wine with a deep purple red color.

Malbec has typical black fruits, cherry and violet aromas. Expect tertiary flavors of cocoa, black pepper, vanilla, and chocolate. 

You’ll generally find that Malbec has full body, high tannins and medium acidity.

Pinot Noir is a dry to off-dry wine, with a pale to medium garnet color.

Pinot Noir has typical earthy and red fruit aromas like red berry, raspberry, cherry, and strawberry. Expect tertiary flavors of leather, spice, truffle, and tobacco. 

Malbec vs Pinot Noir: Are they sweet or dry?

Here you’ll find a brief overview of Malbec vs Pinot Noir in terms of sweetness level or residual sugar.

The sweetness level of a wine is expressed in grams of sugar per liter, aka g/L, or as a percentage.

10 g/L equals 1% which, if you are interested, represents 6 calories per 5 oz serving. 

You will usually find Merlot as a dry wine, whereas Pinot Noir is usually dry to off-dry.

  • A dry wine contains less than 15 g/L.
  • An off dry wine contains between 15-30 g/l.

Learn more about wine sweetness level here.

Malbec vs Pinot Noir: Which are the recommended food pairings?

Here you’ll find a brief overview of Malbec vs Pinot Noir from a food pairings point of view.

Both Malbec and Pinot Noir are versatile wines and pair very well with many dishes. 

Malbec likes bold flavors and pairs well with roasted mushroom, vegetables and potatoes, black beans and onion.

Meat wise I’d recommend you try it with asado, buffalo, beef brisket, ostrich, pork shoulder and duck to name some.

Given its boldness, you need to pick cheese with strong flavors like Gorgonzola and Cheddar for example.

Pinot Noir pairs easily with many foods compared to Cabernet Sauvignon thanks to its versatility.

Ratatouille, beans dishes, pasta, and pizza with mushrooms are generally a very good fit.

Pinot Noir is also one of those few red wines that can pair well as well with grilled fish like grilled salmon and swordfish.

Meat wise you have an ample selection of dishes too from roast veal, braised pork, venison, duck, or a juicy burger.

If you are into cheese, a very good choice is Taleggio, Comte, Cheddar, or Pecorino.

Malbec vs Pinot Noir: How should you serve and store them?

Here you’ll find a brief overview of Malbec vs Pinot Noir in terms of serving and storing the wine.

Malbec should be decanted for 30 minutes and served at 55 – 64 °F (13 – 18 °C) in a Burgundy glass.[1]

The recommended storing period is 5 to 10+ years.

Pinot Noir should be decanted for 30 minutes and served at 55 – 64 °F (13 – 18 °C) in a Burgundy glass.[1]

The recommended storing period is 5 years for normal bottles and 10+ years for the finest bottles.

Malbec vs Pinot Noir: How much do they cost?

Here you’ll find a brief overview of Malbec vs Pinot Noir from a price comparison point of view.

Malbec is an affordable wine with a great price per quality ratio. Pinot Noir is hardly inexpensive.

For Pinot Noir, the finest bottles are from the Côte-d’Or in France, where prices can easily reach over $3000.

You don’t need to worry though as there are plenty of great bottles out there that can be bought at a fraction.

You just need to know where to look, and we are here to point you in the right direction.

Malbec from Mendoza, Argentina, represents a good entry-level that you can usually find below $20.

If you are after great bottles it will likely by a reserve and your price range will be up to $50, where oak ageing has added extra complexity to it.

Exceptional bottles will go up to $100-ish and the luxury bottles will be $100+, usually from France.

Indicative price points for Pinot Noir are:

  • under $40: from California, Oregon, France, and Australia represent a good entry-level
  • under $100: If you are after great bottles then look for bottles from California, Oregon, Italy, and France.
  • >$100: Outstanding bottles over $100+ are usually from France.

Our Verdict

If you have been through the guide, by now you are a Malbec vs Pinot Noir expert!

Both Malbec and Pinot Noir are great wines and by now you should have a good idea of what to expect from them.   

Our recommendation is therefore based on what you’d fancy the most at a particular given moment or event. 

Malbec is generally a common choice for BBQ and bold flavor dishes like roasted veggie, ostrich, and buffalo to name some.

Our best value bottle selection for you is Salentein Reserve Malbec (Barrel Selection), it’s a great bottle at an incredible price. 

Having said that do you want to celebrate a special occasion or want to treat yourself with something truly special?

Then Viña Cobos Bramare Malbec Lujan de Cuyo 2019 is the perfect choice.

Pinot Noir is generally a common choice for the holiday season, given its food pairing options like duck, turkey, and roasted chicken. 

Belle Glos Dairyman Pinot Noir is a great bottle at an incredible price. 

Having said that do you want to celebrate a special occasion or want to treat yourself with something truly special?

Then Domaine Daniel Rion & Fils Échezeaux Grand Cru 2017 Pinot Noir is the perfect choice.

As always make sure to serve them at the right temperature to enjoy them at their best.

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