The Best Malbec Wines in 2023

By Dirk Smits

Originating in France, Malbec has become a booming trend in Argentina and Chile, where the grape is able to flourish. With a deep, inky-red color and intense, complex flavor — particularly the distinct taste of plum — Malbec often has notes of blackberry, pepper, tobacco and leather. The varietal’s robust tannins make it perfect for pairing with steak.

These are the Best Malbec Wines we’ve tasted, presented in alphabetical order.

1. Catena Zapata, “Nicolás Catena” 2019 Malbec | Argentina

Origin: Mendoza, Argentina
Varietals: 100% Malbec
Sustainability: sustainable practices
Suggested retail price: $20
ABV: 13.6%

The Catena family’s estate vineyards are located in the premier growing regions of Mendoza.Nicolás believes the terroir of Mendoza’s high altitude wine country (3,000-5,000 feet above sea level) is unique to the world, and the reality of this belief is expressed in every bottle of wine he makes.

This wine goes through an extensive cold maceration for five days to extract aromas. The juice is then fermented for 12 days with a post-fermentation maceration of 19 to 22 days. The wine is aged for one year in second and third use barrels.

The Catena Malbec 2019 shows a deep violet color with purple hues. It offers intense aromas of ripe dark fruit with a touch of delicate violet and lavender notes, vanilla and cocoa. In the mouth, flavors of ripe berries, some mocha and nicely judged oak, together with a savory complexity and ripe tannin, contribute to the long and elegant finish.

Suggested food pairings: roast turkey, grilled steak, sausages, grilled vegetables, pasta with red sauce, cheese.

> For more information, visit the Catena Zapata official website.

Watch Sophie Gayot‘s exclusive video interview with Laura Catena.

2. Château du Cayrou, 2015 Cahors France

Château du Cayrou, 2015 Cahors Malbec

Origin: Cahors, France
Varietals: 100% Malbec (Côt)
Sustainability: certified organic
Suggested Retail Price: $24
ABV: 12.5%

The winemaking, the philosophy is quite clear: Owner Julien Douin is looking to make wines that are light-framed and elegant. In practice, this means a careful control of the temperature during maceration and fermentation. It also means — probably the most radical choice he makes — no wood at all in the winery. The goal is pure, transparent expression of the terroir.

The wine has a deep ruby color. Aromas of ripe red fruit explode in the nose. The palate shows lush black currant, juicy acidity and soft tannins without any signs of wood aging.

Suggested food pairings: charcuterie, duck confit, grilled sausages, chicken, grilled vegetables, cheeses.

For more information, visit Château du Cayrou official website

3. Coen, 2019 Malbec | Argentina

Coen Malbec Uco Valley 2019

Origin: Uco Valley, Argentina
Varietal: 100% Malbec
Price: $24.99
ABV: 13.9%

This 2019 Malbec is made with grapes from Tupungato, Uco Valley, by the enologist Atilio Pagli. It shows a purplish red color in the glass. The bouquet delivers lots of cherries, strawberries and a hint of spice. Ripe and juicy on the palate, the wine is very flavorful and shows elegant tannins evolving in a long and persistent finish.

> For more information, visit the Coen Wines official website.

4. Domaine Bousquet, Reserve, 2021 Malbec, Tupungato | Argentina

Origin: Valle de Uco, Mendoza, Argentina
Varietals: 85% Malbec, 5% Merlot, 5% Syrah, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon
Price: $16.00
ABV: 14.5%

The Bousquet family hails from the city of Carcassonne, in the South of France, and have four generations of history in the winemaking tradition. A 1990 vacation in Argentina was all it took for winemaker Jean Bousquet to fall in love with the Gualtallary Valley, a scenic, remote, arid terrain high in the Tupungato district of the Uco Valley in Argentina’s Mendoza region, close to the border with Chile. There, where the condors fly and without a vine in sight, Jean discovered his dream terroir, an ideal location to nurture organically-grown grapes in sandy soil – a rarity. Sandy soil makes for elegant wines, its low fertility gives desirable vine stress; it is permeable for good drainage and has no salinity issues, often a problem in arid areas. Grapes in this terroir are the last to be harvested, the extra hang time ensures heightened richness and body. The diurnal temperature shifts produce perfectly ripened grapes with balanced acidity. The grapes are hand-picked, and the vineyard is certified organic. The wine was aged eight months in French oak.

This crimson red wine displays blackberry, spices and graphite on the nose. The palate delivers juicy blackberry flavors in addition to smooth tannins and some earthy, spicy notes.

> For more information, visit Domaine Bousquet official website.

5. Hand of God2012 Old Vine Malbec | Argentina

Origin: Mendoza, Argentina
Varietal: 100% Malbec
Price: $75.00
ABV: 15.1%

Venture capitalist Jon Staenberg founded Hand of God Wines in 2006. The previous year, he had visited Argentina and rekindled an earlier friendship with fellow Stanford MBA alum Santiago Achával of Achával-Ferrer. With the acquisition of two estate vineyards and Achával acting as co-founder and winemaker, Hand of God released its first two wines in 2013. The 2010 Old Vine Malbec comes from the eight-acre Stolen Horse Vineyard, planted entirely to Malbec in 1922 and still plowed by horse.

Bold, big-bodied and complex, the wine boasts concentrated black fruit flavors with earthy and herbal notes and supple tannins.

Suggested food pairings: Steak and other fine cuts of beef.

> For more information, visit Hand of God Wines official website.

6. Mascota, Unánime, 2018 Malbec | Argentina

Origin: Mendoza, Argentina
Varietal: 100% Malbec
Price: $40.00
ABV: 14%

The Mascota winery and its vineyards lie at the foot of the Andes Mountains, barely 3,000 feet away from the Mendoza River. The vines profit from the fresh breezes descending from the mountains and blowing along the river, all of which contributes to the generation of wide temperature ranges. The soil is predominantly alluvial, with a clay-loam surface and rock that is found at a depth of 24 inches.

This densely colored red wine shows aromas of plums, cherries and blueberries. The same ripe red fruit is found on the palate made whole with the addition of a touch of oak and smooth yet robust tannins.

> For more information, visit Mascota Vineyards official website.

7. Trivento, Golden Reserve, 2019 Malbec, Luján de Cuyo | Argentina

Origin: Mendoza, Argentina
Varietal: 100% Malbec
Price: $19.99
ABV: 14%

The viticultural soul of Mendoza is Luján de Cuyo, which was the site of the South American nation’s first Malbec plantings in the late 19th century. Fruit for Trivento’s Golden Reserve Malbec is sourced from 80-year-old vines that have been tended by generations of family growers in four main micro regions: Vistalba, Las Compuertas, Perdriel and Agrelo. The four lots are fermented separately to express the nuances of each before being carefully blended to create a layered and cohesive wine.

This Malbec showcases an intense red color with violet hues. The nose reveals lavender, tar, violets, black cherries and thyme. The wine is full-bodied with fine-grained tannins, lush red fruit, some graphite and a touch of oak, all supported by a lively acidity and evolving in a long, well-balanced finish.

> For more information, visit Trivento official website.


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