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. Originally from southwest France, where it was first known as Côt, the Malbec grape was imported from Bordeaux into South America in the 1800s. There, 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 since the growing season happens during the opposite time of year as the northern hemisphere, providing international winemakers an opportunity to create wines year-round. Nowadays, Malbec is considered the flagship grape of Argentina. The thick-skinned black variety is fleshy, deep, and structured with notes of plum, blackberry, and cocoa, which provides remarkable value for red wine drinkers.
Argentina is the most notable country for Malbec production and experts and wine hobbyists alike flock to these bottles for their exceptional value and exceedingly high quality. Malbec is a great wine for pairing with an array of dishes—from pizza to game roasts, a sophisticated steak dinner, or dark chocolate desserts—making it a delicious and approachable style of wine.
Some of these wines might benefit from some extended aging, but generally are quite enjoyable immediately upon release. It's a great wine for entry-level drinkers and for 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. Our selection of these reasonably priced bottles will make you a believer.
At $18, 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 in Mendoza, Argentina
This is a true “estate” wine, meaning the winery that produces this bottle owns 100% of the vineyards they source from. At a surprisingly low cost of $12, the wine showcases earthy tones mirroring the rich and stony clay soils the vines grow in. The fruits are jammy with blackberry and blueberry, and the tannins velvety due to some French oak aging. Try this wine alongside some slow-smoked ribs slathered in a sweet and savory sauce.
This winery led by native Argentinian Miriam Gomez was created in 2000 on the site of a historic winery. At $18, 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 in Mendoza, Argentina
The La Posta winery offers several different single-vineyard sourced Malbecs and labels them under the vineyard owner’s name. At $16, 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. The Pizzella family has done exceedingly well at showcasing the best of cooler climate Malbec.
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 region most recognized for quality Malbec. At just $16, this bottle offers brambly blackberry and black licorice notes that 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 in Mendoza, Argentina
This $16 wine is produced by the well-respected master of Malbec, Héctor Durigutti. It 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 in 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, which in return offer concentrated and complex notes of fresh-tilled soil and racy minerality. This unctuous $15 bottle has earthy notes alongside bright cherry flavors that make it the perfect choice to serve with a 70%-or-more dark chocolate.
Uco Valley in Mendoza, Argentina
Finca Abril grows Malbec on two farms in La Consulta subdistrict of the Uco Valley, originally planted in 1922. Constant vineyard management offers high quality, well-ripened fruit that makes wines with juicy blackberry and black plum flavors, savory dried herbs and cedar box, and supple, well-integrated tannin, balanced with restrained use of oak. Try pouring this $17 wine alongside a hearty and savory beef pot roast with root vegetables.
Valle Central, Chile
The climate in Chile is vastly different than in Argentina. The wine produced there usually showcases more minerality and greenness with deeper, more peppery notes. At just $7, this bottling from Cono Sur 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 make 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. At $18 per bottle, this wine is structured and strong with some dry, chewy tannin alongside some robust, brambly dark raspberry fruit. A classic representation of Malbec, this bottle is great to pour alongside a roasted rack of lamb or a classic plate of prime rib au jus.