Malbec is much more than Argentina’s shiraz. Shiraz was Australia’s call to vinous fame and for a long time was really driving the bus when it came to the wines of the land down under. Shiraz became popular, then cheap, then commercial, and then finally, great again as producers started focusing on better sites, better yields, and a better eye to premium wine.
Argentina’s trajectory is similar, but before the most commercial of examples showed up (like Australia’s Little Penguin or Yellowtail), some forward-thinking producers started really thinking about what malbec might be capable of. It wasn’t enough to say this is from Mendoza, but now it might be from Lujan de Cuyo, Tupungato, or La Consulta all sub regions in Mendoza, but even better it might be wines from specific vineyard sites with specific soil profiles which were tasting radically different from before. Yes, malbec, that big, beautiful barbecue star showcases terroir – that sense of place that good wines are capable of.
A long way from its original home in Bordeaux (with a mostly minor role in its wines), the high-altitude vineyards of Argentina are the perfect place to experience what malbec is capable of. Call 403-296-1640 or go online for details.
This April 17 is Malbec World Day, and I hope you give this noble grape a place at your table. Use the hashtag #worldmalbecday to find events in your neck of the wood, or for those that like to get started, a tasting event takes place at Calgary’s Willowpark Wines and Spirits on April 6. For more information or tickets, visit: willowpark.net/product/Malbec-Day-Festival1
Santa Julia 2014 Organica Malbec Mendoza, Argentina
Positively bursting with berry fruits and the darkest, chocolatiest chocolate aromas with a touch of plum and herb, the Organica delivers an expressive, very easy to enjoy malbec at an agreeable price. Enjoy with barbecued meats of almost any stripe or kind. Oh, and in case you didn’t figure it out-its organic.
CSPC +735417 Approximate retail- $16
Finca Las Moras 2015 Reserve Malbec, San Juan, Lujan de Cuyo, Argentina
Defined and classic malbec aromas of blacker fruits, a decidedly herbal nose and some crushed rock mineral component. Deep, a little earthy and showing off some serious tannins with some nice tension to the acids, I think this would really shine with ribs, salty appetizers, or duck.
CSPC +729799 About $15
Domaine Bousquet 2013 Reserve Malbec, Tupungato, Argentina
Another organic malbec-if that matters to you, this one also hails from higher elevation vineyards-about 1200 meters above sea level. Rich plummy fruits on the nose give way to seriously deep and brooding fruits on the palate. Intense, floral, and with a kicking-ass long finish. I’m thrilled this bottle is only about $20.
CSPC +734950 about $20
La Posta 2014 Malbec Pizzella, Mendoza
Leading the nose are more garrigue/dried herb aromas followed by blueberry and plum fruits. Tannins aren’t too harsh, and the fruits are nicely rounded. Pretty quaffable juice in this bottle-making me think of thick, juicy burgers with plenty of toppings.
CSPC +923789 usually around $22
Kaiken 2015 Malbec Reserva, Mendoza, Argentina
The Argentine project of Chilean winemaking icons Aurelio (Sr. and Jr.), and a stand up winery on its own accord too. Look for slightly dusty aromas of plum and a little blackberry jam, while flavours are rich and ripe. Great acids call for a slightly fatty dish off the barbecue, maybe a nice steak….yeah, that will do nicely.
CSPC +716766 about $14
Trivento 2015 Reserve Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina
Chock-full of the ripest, plumpest berry fruits on the nose-moving on to remarkably smooth tannin structures, peppy acids, and soft, silken fruits. Make no mistake though, it shows plenty of depth and some welcome restraint. Thinking a nice pot roast or some Greek style skewers. Nicely done.
CSPC +730714 $16
Escorihuela “1884” 2015 Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina
I’m just loving the intense raspberry jam aromas in this glass-but not to worry there are still some dusty/earthy and spicy aromas too. Mouth filling with a good texture along with abundant berry fruits well balanced by grippy tannins, this would really shine with herb-rubbed pork shoulder or cheeseburgers.
CSPC +770925 about $18 on shelves
Salentein 2015 Reserve Malbec, Uco Valley, Argentina
Big fan of the wines from these guys-I highly recommend looking for them. With the 2015 reserve malbec, look for excellent intensity of fruit with this beautiful floral tone and a dried herbs on the nose. Well structured, it’s a very modern style of malbec suitable for any malbec enthusiast.
CSPC +755804 around $19
Mascota 2013 La Mascota Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina
Dare I say this is malbec has an “elegant” nose? Lots of delicate floral tones with that beautiful garrigue/dried herb component good malbec can have, and still managing generous fruits. Fine stuff on the palate too, I love the white pepper flavours on top of the tannins. Makes me want a beefdip…
CSPC +754968 around $17-18
Catena 2014 Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina
Possibly one of the best-known and best-loved Argentine winery in Alberta, if you like malbec, you’ve probably had Catena’s. Great spice on the nose with subtle fruits of pomegranate, raspberry, and plum with a little chocolate too, the palate is rich and smooth and you’ll find yourself refilling that glass.
CSPC +478727 $24
Domaine Bousquet 2015 Malbec, Tupungato, Argentina
Another organic malbec on these shelves, loads of spice over slightly jammy plum fruits and a slightl chalkiness to the mineral character. These high elevation vineyard bring to the palate tightly wound tannins and just the right generosity to the fruit. Screaming for game meats or pulled pork sandwiches in my mind.
CSPC +731390 $16.00
Santa Julia 2014 Reserva Malbec, Uco Valley, Argentina
Very enjoyable on the nose with clean and prominent fruits with just a touch of dried, chaparral style herbaciousness. Flavours lean towards generous and fruit driven, but the finish tied it all together with some welcome earthy components. Great wine at a great price.
CSPC +724642 $18