In celebration of World Malbec Day on Saturday the 17th (tomorrow!), I thought that I’d work my way through 10 Malbecs available through various channels right now, always a fun little exercise!
2020 Abito “La Juventud” Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina (14.5% Alcohol) – Consignment via The Full Wine Glass / Argentum Imports $19.95
My son was immediately drawn to the quirky label, and alongside all of the other rather old-fashioned and staid labels here, it certainly sticks out in a crowd. How’s the wine inside? Well, there’s a ton of juicy and jammy red fruit coupled with a pretty serious hit of smokey and spicy oak. Tannins are soft and not of much consequence, but the solid fruit core extends out with a great length. Most enjoyable.
2018 Trapiche “Reserve” Malbec, Argentina (13.5% Alcohol) – LCBO $12.95
I found the oak a little overbearing here, but often that’s what people are actually looking for with a Malbec at this pricepoint. Indeed, this shows quite remarkable value for those seeking a Malbec with a healthy big old dose of spicy oak and a simple dark fruit profile. Having tasted this many times over the years, this is an improvement over previous vintages. It’s simplistic, but rather well done.
2019 Alamos Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina (13.5% Alcohol) – LCBO $15.95
A real crowd-pleasing and full-bodied style that exhibits admirable tannin management. It’s a very contemporary and surprisingly polished take on Malbec (if a tad simplistic), delivering exactly what most consumers look for in a mid-price Argentinian wine. Malbecs can really shine around this price point, and Alamos certainly do a pretty damn good job here.
2019 Kaiken “Seleccion Especial” Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina (14% Alcohol) – Vintages Essentials $13.95
A whole load of jammy black berry fruit and well balanced oak treatment. Very smooth and soft tannins with moderate freshness. Like the Alamos before, this exhibits very good value for this similar-ish price point.
2019 Bodega Toro “Centenario” Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina(13% Alcohol) – LCBO $9.60
Hands down the best extreme value Malbec I have ever tasted. There’s a fair bit here for the oh-so-modest price point. Don’t expect a blockbuster wine, but understand it for what it is: a very well-made everyday Malbec that delivers exactly where it should. It’s hard to find fault in its sheer fruit-driven, juicy, smooth tannins, and good old honest drinkability. Serve slightly chilled beside a roaring, smokey barbecue.
2018 BenMarco Malbec, Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina (14.5% Alcohol) – Consignment via Profile Wine Group $20.99
It’s always said that the best wine is the one that is finished first, and that was certainly the case here. There’s a really freshness and lift to this Malbec that had me continually reaching for another glass. Probably the most mineral-focused Malbec from this selection, making it really stand out for me; the subtle floral aspect also aroused. It has a really nice tension between fruit, acid, and tannin. Definitely more of a gastronomic example. Lovely stuff. More please?
2018 Graffigna Malbec, Mendoza & San Juan, Argentina (13.5% Alcohol) – LCBO $13.95
In a blind tasting I’d be struggling to identify this as Malbec, and that’s not usually a good thing. While I can certainly see the appeal of lighter Malbecs, I’m not sure that this is what the average consumer would expect when they buy the Malbec “brand”. In the context of this line-up, I’m not sure that it passes muster. Saying that, I’ll revisit this again in the coming months.
(For now… but the jury is out!)
2019 Don David “Reserve” Malbec, Salta, Argentina (14% Alcohol) – LCBO $16.95
This bottle turned out to be a case of FTFO (Failure to freaking open). The screw cap enclosure failed, and I had to resort to a pair of pliers and a knife to get a taste out of the bottle. managed to cut my hand open to, so perhaps my judgement of this one is a little clouded? Again, this is made in a lighter style, but I feel it has an excellent red/black fruit profile to raise it up a little as well as an oxymoronic “lush garrigue” element to it! Very appealing aromatically, with soft, malleable tannins and a good finish. This is another one that I’d like to revisit.
2018 Luigi Bosca Malbec, Argentina (14% Alcohol) – Vintages Essentials $18.95
A stalwart on the mid-priced Malbec scene for some time, I’ve always been rather fond of Bosca’s approach with this bottling. There’s a solid fruit core of plummy black fruits, with nuances of cocoa nibs, mocha, and wood spice. The tannins are smooth and the palate is mouth-filling. Great balance on display here. Much like Catena, it’s always been a solid benchmark Malbec for me.
2018 Kaiken “Ultra” Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina (14.5% Alcohol) – Vintages Front Line $19.95
The “Ultra” certainly leans towards a bigger, plumper, rich style, but it’s not without some finesse. Loads of spicy dark berry fruit here, with oak treatment consistent with the intense fruit, but it’s all pleasantly in balance. A most impressive lengthy finish here. A well-put-together full-bodied Malbec.
Edinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge, and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution… And that was most enjoyable. Now I’m craving charred, grilled meat!