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

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

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

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

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

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

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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