Malbec is considered today the flagship grape of Argentina. This thick skinned black variety is fleshy, deep, and structured with notes of plum, blackberry, and cocoa that provides remarkable value for red wine drinkers the world over. Today, delicious Malbec wines are readily available in all international markets and are often considered to have an excellent quality to price ratio, making them an approachable choice for drinkers who enjoy big, unctuous wines, even on a limited budget. Some of these wines will benefit from some extended aging, but generally the wines are quite drinkable immediately upon release, making them attractive for entry-level drinkers and those who have limited time and storage space. The bold, dark fruit-driven nature of the Malbec grape makes it an alternative option for drinkers whose regular go-to bottles are usually in the Cabernet or Merlot sections.
Malbec’s original home is southwest France, where it was first known as Côt. In the 1800s, the grape was imported from Bordeaux into South America, where it quickly adapted to the region’s cold, dry winters and hot, humid summers. In recent decades, internationally-renowned winemakers have taken great interest in the region due to its location in the southern hemisphere. Since the growing season is during the opposite time of year as the northern hemisphere, it provides international winemakers an opportunity to create wines year round. Today, Argentina is the most notable country for Malbec production and experts and wine hobbyists alike flock to these bottles for their exceptional value, delicious and approachable style, and exceedingly high quality. Malbec is a great wine for pairing with an array of situations-- from pizza nights to patio parties. Pick up one of the following bottles to serve with a sophisticated steak dinner or simply to enjoy with some dark chocolate for a casual night at home.
This delightful bottling is a production of the powerhouse Paul Hobbs wine portfolio. The bottle showcases the concentrated style of Hobbs’s winemaking with notes of deep, unctuous plum, some dried green herbs, cracked black pepper, and well-integrated and soft tannin. This wine is powerful and structured; perfect for serving alongside a filet or ribeye.
Ugarteche, Mendoza, Argentina
This is a true “estate” wine, meaning the winery that produces this bottle own 100% of the vineyards they source from. It showcases more earthy tones mirroring the rich and stonly clay soils the vines grow on. The fruits are jammy with blackberry and blueberry and tannins velvety due to some French oak aging. Try this wine alongside some slow-smoked ribs slathered in a sweet and savory sauce for a delicious and unique pairing.
This winery led by native Argentinian Miriam Gomez was created on the site of an historic winery in 2000. This bottle is spicy, with bright red fruit flavors like red raspberry and strawberry. The tannin is soft with an ever so slightly sweet finish and fresh pepper notes, making this the choice wine for pairing with spicy steak fajitas or peppery enchiladas.
Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina
The La Posta winery offers several different single vineyard sourced Malbecs and labels them under the vineyard owner’s name. The Pizzella family has done exceedingly well at showcasing the best of cooler climate Malbec. The wine’s blackberry fruit notes are deep and structured with subtle hints of dried lavender. The softer, more herbaceous notes of this wine reach toward its French roots, making it an excellent choice to serve with hearty soups and stews.
Malbec in France achieves a more savory and inky profile due to the soils and climate. This classic example is from Cahors, the French growing reason most recognized for quality Malbec. Brambly blackberry and black licorice notes balance more earthy and savory aspects like leather and roasted mushroom notes. Very chewy and deep, this wine provides insight into the origins of Malbec. Try this traditional style of Malbec alongside a French-inspired charcuterie and cheese board or a french dip sandwich.
Agrelo, Mendoza, Argentina
This wine produced by well-respected master of Malbec Héctor Durigutti expresses the quality of fruit from one single vineyard site within the small region of Agrelo. Durigutti's restrained use of French oak helps the quality of the grape come through. This wine is bright and spicy with notes of red raspberry, dried clove, and cracked pepper. The finish is somewhat soft and velvety with hints of cedar. Pick up this bottle to pair with a sausage and veggie pizza.
Cafayate, Calchaqui Valley, Argentina
The word Amalaya literally translated means “bountiful harvest” in the local native language. This special vineyard site situated a mile above the valley floor is cooler and expresses softer tannins and fresher red fruits like cherry and red raspberry. The winery focuses on sustainable farming practices creating a concentrated and complex notes of fresh-tilled soil and racy minerality. The unctuous, earthy notes alongside bright cherry flavors make this wine a perfect choice to serve with dark chocolate (be sure to pick up a bar with at least 70% cacao).
Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina
Finca Abril grows Malbec on two farms in the La Consulta subdistrict of the Uco Valley that were originally planted in 1922. Constant vineyard management produces high quality, well ripened fruit that produces wines with juicy blackberry and black plum flavors, savory dried herbs and cedar box, and supple, well-integrated tannin balanced with a restrained use of oak. Try pouring this wine alongside a hearty and savory beef pot roast with root vegetables.
Valle Central, Chile
The climate in Chile is vastly different than that of Argentina. The wine produced here usually showcases more minerality and greenness with deeper, more peppery notes. This bottling from Cono Sur is no different and displays elements of dried blackberry and blueberry alongside cocoa powder and pipe tobacco. Acids remain high, lifting the tannic finish. The more dried herb-driven and savory notes of this wine makes it a great pairing for blackened meats such as rosemary and sage-rubbed roasted chicken.
This winery established in 1902 by Nicolás Catena Zapata is widely respected for putting quality Malbec on the world stage in a similar manner to Robert Mondavi in California. Today, the wines are widely available and reliable for providing quality, accessible Malbec in several markets. This wine is structured and strong with some dry, chewy tannin alongside some robust, brambly dark raspberry fruit. A classic representation of Malbec, pick this bottle up to pour alongside a roasted rack of lamb or a classic plate of prime rib with au jus.