Malbec: Argentina’s Superstar Grape

Though the black, densely flavoured grape is native to the south west of France (you’ll recall it is one of the six players in the Bordeaux blend), it has fallen steeply in plantings and popularity in France; today the black plum, savoury and tannic wines of Cahors are the main centre for the grape in its native homeland. Instead, it has been taken up by many newer wine regions, prized for its fruity approachability. It requires heat – more than colleagues cabernet sauvignon or merlot – so is well suited to warm, sunny climes.


VINcabulary : Malbec 

Certainly malbec’s star has risen at a comet-rate as of late, propelled into superstardom by Argentina’s thriving exports. Here, tucked against or astride the sunbaked Andes, the grape typically showcases full-bodied and ballsy fruit-forward flavours of blueberry and black plum, backed up by cocoa, smoke and spice and laid out across a velvety texture. Over the past decade, the approachability, ripe fruit and low price point of Argentine malbec rapidly gained it many fans around the globe. So much so, that today malbec is almost entirely identified with Argentine reds. Here are 6 wines, including two distinctly different Argentinean examples, to explore.



River Stone Estate Winery
Malbec Rosé 2013
Okanagan Valley, BC
*$20  +568980

Deeply hued, there is ample currant, violet, tart rhubarb jam, cranberry, raspberry and leafy notes here, with hints of blueberry blossoms on the nose and finish. Bright acidity, fuller body and slight tannins mean this bold rose will stand up to grilled foods.



Jean Luc Baldes
Chateau Labrande 2010
Cahors AOP, France
$20  +2162

Love the pure, fragrant cassis, blue plum and black cherry in this savoury, stony, leathery Cahors. Dark cocoa and vibrant acidity liven the full palate, and the tannins finish with a light raspy grip.



Viña Chocalan
Grand Reserva Malbec 2011
Maipo Valley, Chile
*30   +792705

This ripe malbec is big from the first, expressive sniff; smoked branch, bramble, resin and dense cassis notes. The full palate spikes with wild blackberry acidity, and rests comfortably on a frame of thorn-edged tannins.



Bodega Noemia
Malbec A Lisa 2012
Patagonia, Argentina
*$30  +854711

This pristine malbec is accompanied by 9% merlot and 1% petit verdot, resulting in an elegant, poised red with perfumed black cherry, dried strawberry and fleshy plum jam notes. Acids are tight and shining, and the juicy finish is spiced and lengthy.



Wolf Blass
Gold Label Langhorne Creek Malbec 2012
Langhorne Creek, South Australia, Australia

This is a confident, stately malbec, assured in its exotic nutmeg aromas and black cherry jam, tobacco, thorn and fresh herb infused palate. Round and ripe, this finishes with sandy grained tannins and peppery spice.



Pascual Toso
Limited Edition Malbec 2012
Maipú, Mendoza, Argentina
$19  +920637

Established in 1890, Pascual Toso is one of the oldest wineries in Argentina. This malbec lives up to its heritage with expressive ripe cherry, dense and fleshy black fruit, roasted meats and salted figs. Tannins are silky smooth and the finish lingers with a smoked vanilla and chocolate note.


DRINKing Guide: How to use our purchasing information.
*Asterisks denote wines that are only available at the winery or select private liquor stores. All other wines are available through BC Liquor Stores.


Written By:

Treve Ring is a wine writer, editor, judge, consultant and certified sommelier, and has been with EAT Magazine for over a decade.\r\n\r\nIn addition to her work with EAT, she is a Wine Critic and National Judge for ...

Comments are closed.