Marijuana Strain Reviews

Why Colorado Tokers Love Malbec

Light the candles and pop open some Malbec. Tonight’s the night.
Light the candles and pop open some Malbec. Tonight’s the night. Herbert Fuego
I don't know jack about wine, but I know I like Malbecs. They're affordable, not too sweet, and have a similar story to that of Colorado cannabis.

Malbec grapes are indigenous to France but were introduced to Argentina in 1868 by a French agronomist who thought the grapes were better suited to a hot, arid climate. Now South American Malbecs are so popular that Argentina's Mendoza region is nearly synonymous with the wine.

Retrofitting a timeless crop for a dry climate and making it our own is sort of what we do in Colorado. Just inhale a skunky breath while driving east on I-70 or visit the Pueblo Chile & Frijoles Festival. But naming a weed strain after my favorite high-altitude wine? Bold move, Cotton. It had better be juicy without being overly sweet. Creamy, maybe. Full-bodied, for sure. And with a hint of black cherries, perhaps.

There are a lot of ways to go if you're honoring Malbecs, and I trust 14er to do it right. The Boulder cultivation's take, a hybrid of Grape Pie and Kush Mints, has a good lineage on the surface, and the high, much like a glass of red, is labeled as a safe bet for relaxing at home. So what could go wrong? Nothing, really. But not much was right, either.

Malbec's high, free of stress and enjoyable overall, provided more of an energetic buzz than I'd anticipated. The first night had me lying awake in bed, revisiting regrettable social situations from years ago. It was as if I'd bought an unlabeled bag of Haze in 2005 expecting an easy drift to sleep, only to be surprised with open eyes and a dry mouth until the wee hours of the morning. Daytime sessions provided more useful, promising effects, but the high wasn't the only area where Malbec under-delivered.

I first tried Grape Pie over three years ago, and still remember that soda-like flavor better than the Malbec I smoked three hours ago. Kush Mints, though not as memorable as Grape Pie, was no slouch, either, pumping out notes of pine and chocolate. The marijuana math was somewhat correct: There are notes of pine and cherries, with a creamy or chocolate-y back end, depending on the jar. Those are Malbec qualities! Just not at the rate I'd hoped for, as dry buds and chalky, herbal notes have dominated my Malbec experiences. Even with signs of fruity, full-bodied life at one point, I'm worried this year could be a bad vintage.

Looks: Malbec's buds, striking in their own way, are anything but purple or red, instead taking on a bright lime-green color, with a thick coat of trichomes. Based on the 14er jars I've purchased, the buds don't get very big, and they like to foxtail.

Smell: Jammy notes of cherries and a chalky, creamy overtone give Malbec a candy aroma, with floral, herbal hints taking back that sweetness. Although sweeter than most Malbec wines, it's a close rendition. If only it were strong enough to make me take notice consistently.

Flavor: Malbec's flavor is more floral and dirty than the fruity smell suggests, but all the buds I've come across have been dry, which affects the flavor. There's enough of a piney, borderline-chocolate aftertaste to keep me interested in what a fresher version would smoke like, though.

Effects: What Malbec's high lacks in focus, it makes up for in stoned bliss. Few stress-inducing moments actually came to fruition after smoking the strain, and the easygoing effects were never overpowering, allowing me to approach each high with a sense of confidence that most potent strains don't allow.

Where to find it: We've seen Malbec at 14er Boulder, Apothecary Farms, Life Flower Dispensary, Oasis Cannabis Superstores and Solace Meds recently. The name, more frequently used on wine and liquor store websites, makes Malbec harder to find online than most strains, though, so it could be available elsewhere.

Is there a strain you’d like to see profiled? Email [email protected]
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Herbert Fuego is the resident stoner at Westword, ready to answer all your marijuana questions.
Contact: Herbert Fuego