Wine Reviews: Malbec

For our latest round of reviews, we asked our national wine panel to sip malbec.

As always, these selections include brief tasting notes, a rating and the wine’s retail price (which can vary from store to store and market to market). Unless noted otherwise, the price reflects a 750-ml. bottle.

If you’re a beverage professional with a specialty in wine and you’re interested in participating in the panel, please contact managing editor Kyle Swartz at kswartz@epgmediallc.com or 203-855-8499 x2225.

Rating System

Five Stars (100-92): A top-flight wine, superior in taste and character, and providing a superior price/value ratio.

Four Stars (91-86): A very good wine and an excellent value. A wine for which customers will keep coming back.

Five Star Wines

(95) Terrazas de los Andes Cheval des Andes (Argentina). Powerful, firm and polished blend of malbec, cabernet and petit verdot. More Bordeaux in style: thick and rich with dark chocolate and blackberry. This is a keeper, but you can still enjoy now. $95

(94) Catena Malbec 2014 (Argentina). Rich, dark and savory is the best way to describe this wine. The flavors are married together in a bold, yet balanced structure. The hints of tobacco and berry are interwoven with blueberry and hearty finish. $18.99

(93) La Finca Clos D’Angel Malbec 2014 (Chile). This full-bodied malbec has elegant notes of raspberry, cranberry and a mineral element that come together very well. With Bordeaux-like texture and balance, as well as the New World fruit character of Chile, this is a real showstopper. $19

(93) Dona Paula Estate Malbec 2015 (Argentina). The Dona Paula continues to be the gold standard of Argentine malbec. Robust fruit with firm structure gives way with time to an elegant array of blackberry, dark cherry and an ever-so-light touch of cocoa. $15.99

(93) 2014 Clos La Coutale (France). This wine is a blend of 80% malbec and 20% merlot. It’s aged in oak barrels to obtain a full balance between medium tannins and dark, black fruit. This Cahors malbec is a hearty, rustic red. $17.99

(93) Altos Las Hormigas Reserve Malbec 2014 (Argentina). Fresh with lots of minerality. This is for the more serious malbec drinker. Structured pure concentration of blueberry, blackberry and purple plum. Long finish that screams for Argentine beef. $26

(92) Black Cabra Malbec 2016 (Argentina). Impressive red from Jean-Claude Berrouet, formerly of Chateau Petrus in Pomerol. Dark ruby red, this is a soft and silky malbec loaded with aromas of blackberries and violets, with subtle notes of pepper and cloves. Black cherries and plums fill the medium- to full-bodied palate, with hints of cedar and vanilla on the long finish. $15

(92) Los Poetas 2014 (Argentina). Bold and powerful flavors of red currant, cranberry and rich raspberry are complemented by a liberal use of oak. The 42% malbec shines through as the centerpiece, but the 27% cabernet, 22% tempramillo and 9% syrah add complexity and depth. $18

(92) 2014 Chakana Malbec (Argentina). The nose is ripe and fruit-driven with aromas of dark red fruit and plums. Balanced minerality and a touch of spice box with well-integrated oak. The palate is juicy fresh and has good balance, with a somewhat fleshy finish. $26.99

(92) 2014 Pigmentum Malbec (France). Great notes of dark berries on the nose. Almost black in color in the glass. This starts out soft up front then develops to a mild black currant about mid pallet. The presence of a mild earthiness and tannins are evident in this wine and help the finish linger. Great with a rich, fatty ribeye steak. $14

(92) Catena Malbec 2013 (Argentina). Aroma of dark fruits, dark cherry and berries. Flavors run dark cherry, blackberry and spice. Nice full tannins with long finish. $18.99

(92) Bodega Rolland Mariflor Malbec 2012 (Argentina). Winemaker Michel Rolland has created a dense and polished malbec with aromas of plum and blueberries. Deep ruby in color, with flavors of licorice, berry and dark chocolate leading to powerful tannins and a long lasting finish. $27.99

(92) Raffy Pardus Tupungato Malbec 2012 (Argentina). Made from 50-year-old ungrafted vines, this malbec has a refined character exhibiting bright bing cherry and wild raspberry fruits. Anise and cocoa are supporting flavors that linger on the elegant, fine-grained finish. $22.49

(92) Punto Final Reserva Malbec 2013 (Argentina). “The Final Point” is the next showstopper malbec you need to try. Their entry into the market, Punto Final, is wonderful as it is, but the extra aging (12 months in 225-liter barriques) makes a world of difference. The perfect balance between bold and finesse, Punto Final Reserva malbec is worth the jump to this price point and will make you want to come back for more. $21.99

(92) Cruz Alta Malbec Grand Reserve 2013 (Argentina). Full-bodied and not lacking in either power or density, this wine has a black color with a slight shade of red to it. The smooth texture and lengthy finish harness the blueberry, raspberry and oak-baking spice flavors very well. $16

Four Star Wines

(91) Cruz Alta Malbec Reserve 2015 (Argentina). Bright red plum and black raspberries balanced by some surprising new oak definition from this Mendoza malbec. The wine is luscious and well balanced, but still focuses on the black fruit and tannic power. $14

(91) Finca Flichman Malbec Reserva 2015 (Argentina). Deep red color, a medium-plus bodied malbec that has aromas and flavors of red plumb, dark raspberry, and cherry. The intense mouthfeel and firm tannins provides a long, complex finish. $14

(91) Mascota Vineyards La Moascota Malbec 2014 (Argentina). The pure fruit character and smooth texture make this a standout, bold, approachable malbec. Raspberry, strawberry and a slight hint of chocolate combined with the smooth mouthfeel make this a signature Mendoza malbec. $16

(91) Solar de Orfila Malbec Oak 2013 (Argentina). Rich and elegant. Very full-bodied. Six months in French oak imparts hints of vanilla. Beautifully fruit-forward with plum blackberry, and violet notes. $21.99  

(91) Pietro Marini Malbec 2013 (Argentina). On first glance you might expect a powerful, full-bodied malbec, but in a good way, you would be mistaken. A wonderful nose precedes a fruit-forward, medium-bodied wine that has a shorter finish than you would expect due to stainless-steel aging. The malbec grape in its purest form, Pietro Marini malbec will be something you can share with all walks of wine life and know it will impress. $15.99

(91) Finca Decero Remolinos Vineyard Malbec 2014 (Argentina). This is a lighter malbec with fresh violet aromas. Flavors include raisin, currant and blackberries, with well-integrated tannins leading to a nice long finish with just a hint of pepper. $17.99

(91) Bousquet Cameleon Malbec 2015 (Argentina). Organic, sourced from high-elevation vineyards in Tupungato. Aromas of red berries with sweet spice. Elegant in style, with bright acidity and packed with ripe, concentrated fruit flavors with notes of tobacco and black pepper. Aged six months in French and American oak. $15

(91) Salentein Reserve Malbec 2015 (Argentina). First, the aroma: It is intense and complex with outstanding perfumes of red fruits, black berries, as well as delicate floral notes. On the palate, the wine is sweet and mild. This gem is fruity and fresh, with good intensity and a lingering finish. $19.99

(91) Pampas des Sur Tenacious Reserva 2015 (Argentina). Fresh and energetic on the nose, with notes of dark cherries and plum. This liveliness carries over to the palate with a fruit-forward burst of raspberries, followed by some oak influence not evident in the aromatics. A hint of dark chocolate and medium-plus body rounds out the wine. $13

(90) Chateau La Graves Cahors 2014 (France). Rustic, dark and mineral-driven malbec. This wine possesses a wonderful sense of place, offering forest berries, fennel, violets and scorched earth. $19.99

(90) Santa Ana Malbec Reserve 2015 (Argentina). A rich, energetic malbec that is medium-plus-bodied and powerful, but laced with raspberries, blackberries and dark chocolate flavors. The wine is bold, dark and enticing because of the balance of freshness with power. $12

(90) Vistamar Sepia Malbec Reserva 2015 (Chile). This Maipo Valley malbec is smooth and balanced to showcase the red currant and blackberry notes. Lively and easy drinking, this value-oriented bottle shows that Chile can show up to the Mendoza-dominated market. $10

(90) Phebus Malbec MMC 2016 (Argentina). This bright, malbec-heavy blend, rounded out by 15% merlot and 15% cabernet, is approachable and fruit-forward. There are delightful cherry, cranberry and blackberry notes on the nose and palate, and they use little to no oak. $11

(90) Tilia Uxmal Malbec 2015 (Argentina). The Tilia Uxmal malbec is produced at Bodegas Esmeralda, one of the Catena family’s oldest wineries. Winemaker Leopoldo Kuschnaroff exemplifies the true varietal character of malbec from Mendoza. Aromas of black cherries and plums lead to a rich, full-bodied palate with flavors of juicy blackberries, and notes of vanilla and sweet spice. Excellent value! $12

(90) Finca Flichman Malbec Misterio Reserva 2015 (Argentina). This malbec has that signature Mendoza smooth texture, power, and plush slightly tannic finish. Red plum and blackberries are central on the nose and palate and make the wine. $13

(90) Phebus Malbec 2016 (Argentina). Fresh, elegant and fruit-forward, this bright malbec has really good acidity and notes of black cherry and plum. An easy-drinking and smooth mouthfeel are the most notable features of this malbec. $13

(90) Clos Siguier Cahors 2012 (France). Malbec from this region was once called the “Black Wine of Cahors.” Clos Siguier mixes in 5% tannat to create a deep purple beauty. Black cherry and red currant aromas on the nose; the succulent red and black fruits burst forth on the finish. This wine features great minerality, moderate acidity and silky tannins. If you are looking for a malbec from outside Argentina, this would be an excellent place to start. $14.99

(90) Cruz Alta Malbec 2016 (Argentina). This malbec is a medium-plus bodied, and rich for the modest price point. Dark plum and cherry notes dominate the nose and palate, but a slight tannic grip defines the finish. There are spice oak notes, but this wine is defined by texture and fruit. $11

(90) 2014 Montes Classic Malbec (Chile). Dark ruby color in the glass. Intense ripe cherry notes upfront that fade rather quickly. Medium body that finishes rather delicate and short. Would make a nice accompaniment to a good, juicy cheeseburger. $11

(90) 2015 Earth First Malbec (Argentina). Big dark fruit aromas on the nose. The inky color in the glass lead to a rich and complex taste of juicy plum and vanilla that take over your taste buds. The finish produces some subtle tannic notes that last nicely. Makes for a great pairing with a nice New York strip steak. $13

(90) 2015 Canoe Ridge Vineyard the Expedition Malbec (Washington). First hints of aroma on this are faint, but develop to more complex blackberry and spice with time in the glass. Very mild flavors of vanilla and tobacco blend nicely with dark fruit to offer an overall balanced experience. Finish is short and soft. No need for food—just pop the bottle and enjoy. $15

(89) La Puerta Classico Malbec. Usually dropping below $10 in the malbec world means you are not getting the fruit profile or classic malbec style that you want. The La Puerta Classico malbec is not the case. The best malbec you will ever find for under $10 is at your fingertips, so if you are a malbec fan or even a red wine fan in general, I implore you to find this and give it a shot! $9.99

(89) Finca Flichman Malbec Misterio 2016 (Argentina). Medium bodied and fruit forward, this malbec has the power and the ripe Mendoza fruit the region is known for. Approachable, the bright notes of cherries and raspberries have a delightful freshness to them. $10

(89) Trapiche Broquel Malbec 2014 (Argentina). Aroma of black fruits. Black cherry, blackberry and minerals dominate the flavor. Moderately full tannins leading to a long pleasant finish. $14.99

(89) Malma Universo Patagonia Malbec 2010 (Argentina). This a great malbec for those who are looking to explore the wines of Patagonia. This is densely packed with dark plums, blackberries and cinnamon. A welcomed floral lift echos on the finish. $31.49 

(89) Finca Las Moras Barrel Select Malbec (Argentina). This malbec offers soft and subtle touches of berry fruit and chocolate. All of the flavors are gently showcased with a light, lingering finish. $12.99

(88) 2015 Paul Mas Estate Malbec (France). Nose is very soft with touches of raspberry. Soft, easy mouthfeel that leads to mild anise notes and fades out on the short, anticlimactic finish. Good for light red meats or soft cheese. $12

(88) Astica Malbec 2015 (Argentina). The “party malbec.” Affordable for crowds. Nice intro into malbec. Round and juicy with sweet ripe berry tones. $7

(87) Trivento Malbec 2013 (Argentina). Black cherry aroma and flavor with some spice. Simple uncomplicated with moderate tannins and moderate finish. A good buy. $9.99

(86) Solar de Orfila Malbec 2013 (Argentina). Perfect introduction to the malbec varietal. Smooth and easy drinking with just a touch of oak. Lighter in style with light tannins. A perfect pizza wine. $15.99.  

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