The best Malbecs of 2021

Having released all the results from this year’s Global Malbec Masters, we bring you the best Malbecs of 2021, taking in 17 delicious wines from £11 to over £50.

CAMELION ORGANIC, DOMAINE BOUSQUET, 2021

  • Producer: Domaine Bousquet
  • Region: Mendoza, Uco Valley
  • Country: Argentina
  • Grape variety: Malbec
  • Abv: 14%
  • Vintage: 2021
  • Closure: Screwcap
  • Approx. retail price: £11
  • Medal: Gold – Malbec Masters 2021

One of the great discoveries in this year ’s Malbec Masters was a sample bottle from Domaine Bousquet. Costing just over a tenner, made with certified organic grapes, and featuring layers of flavour – from rich, ripe blackberry to dark cherry, olive, violets and peppercorns – it’s a fantastic, eco-minded wine for a good price. Plus, without any oak influence, the pure fruit flavours are deliciously prominent. (Patrick Schmitt)

DON DAVID RESERVE MALBEC, EL ESTECO, CAFAYATE, VALLES CALCHAQUIES

  • Producer: El Esteco
  • Region: Cafayate, Valles Calchaquies
  • Country: Argentina
  • Grape variety: Malbec
  • Abv: 14%
  • Vintage: 2020
  • Closure: Cork
  • Approx. retail price: £8.99
  • Medal: Gold – Malbec Masters 2021

This year ’s best Malbec under £10 was the Don David Reserve from the Cafayate Valley for its textbook characters of concentrated black fruit, cracked pepper-like spice, and vanilla – from the oak used to age the wine – along with firm dry tannins. A juicy but structured drop that would be ideal for sipping with red meat, in keeping with Malbec’s most famous food pairing. (Patrick Schmitt)

ALPAMANTA TERROIR MALBEC

  • Producer: Alpamanta Estate
  • Region: Ugarteche Mendoza
  • Country: Argentina
  • Grape variety: Malbec
  • Abv: 15%
  • Vintage: 2013
  • Closure: Screw cap
  • Approx. retail price: £11.60
  • Medal: Gold – Malbec Masters 2021

Alpamanta – meaning ‘love of the earth’ in Argentina’s native Quechuan language – was the source of an exciting find in Malbec. Taking fruit from an organic and biodynamic estate in Urgarteche in Luján de Cuyo, the wine offers a taste of a fine, highaltitude Malbec with exacting viticultural standards, yet it costs less than £15. There’s plenty of red fruit, from strawberry to cherry, and lovely additional characters of cedar wood and cigar box, along with lots of tannin, giving a slightly Bordeaux-like edge to the finish. (Patrick Schmitt)

DEMENCIAL MALBEC 2019

  • Producer: Finca Las Moras
  • Region: Calingasta Valley, San Juan
  • Country: Argentina
  • Grape variety: Malbec
  • Abv: 14.0%
  • Vintage: 2019
  • Closure: Natural cork
  • Approx. retail price: £12
  • Medal: Gold – Malbec Masters 2021

The winery, Finca Las Moras, is the third-largest producer in Argentina, with a fine range of wines. From the Calingasta Valley about 1,500m altitude among the Andean peaks in the San Juan region comes a great value Malbec. This wine is packed with crunchy blackcurrant, red plum and red cherry fruit and cigar box overtones. Large diurnal swings in temperature contribute zippy acidity and textured tannins to give structure, and an herbal lift adds interest to the sappy finish. Generous, yet charming, wine. Great with classic Argentinian steak or, in autumnal Scotland , grouse. (Patricia Stefanowicz)

 

DOMINGO MOLINA MALBEC 2019

  • Producer: Domingo Molina
  • Region: North Yacochuya, Calchaquí Valley, Cafayate , Salta
  • Country: Argentina
  • Grape variety: Malbec
  • Abv: 13%
  • Vintage: 2019
  • Closure: Natural cork
  • Approx. retail price: £19
  • Medal: Gold – Malbec Masters 2021

Family-owned and managed, the Domingo brothers’ winery produces this voluptuous wine from their local Yacochuya Malbec grapes grown at 2,000m altitude using indigenous yeasts and second-fill French oak barrels. Deep ruby-black in colour with excellent concentration of flavours, the wine has dark cherry and blackberry fruit and gently smoky oak with balsamic and peppermint nuances adding character. Bright acidity and grippy tannins supply structure. (Patricia Stefanowicz)

EL ENEMIGO MALBEC, 2018

  • Producer: El Enemigo Wines by Bodega Aleanna
  • Region: Valle de Uco, Tupungato, Mendoza
  • Country: Argentina
  • Grape variety: 92% Malbec, 8% Cabernet Franc
  • Abv: 14%
  • Vintage: 2018
  • Closure: Natural cork
  • Approx. retail price: £23
  • Medal: Gold – Malbec Masters 2021

Bodega Aleanna is a high-quality wine producer, a joint venture between Adrianna Catena and Alejandro Vigil, hence the name: ‘Ale’ + ‘anna’. The estate El Enemino [‘The Enemy’] is based in the high-altitude wine region of Valle de Uco, Mendoza with rocky, sandy, free-draining soils, not very easy to work. But this is a lovely wine. Intense redcurrant, Victoria plum, and tobacco aromatics lead to a rich, yet mid-weight and balanced palate of defined flavours supported by racy acidity and linen-textured tannins. Plenty of spicy accents of allspice, cardamon seeds and coriander add complexity and length. A ‘go-to wine’ for rabbit with a mustard sauce, or poussin with wild rice. (Patricia Stefanowicz)

 

CHÂTEAU DE MERCUÈS CUVÉE 6666, 2018

  • Producer: Georges Vigouroux
  • Region: Cahors AOC
  • Country: France
  • Grape variety: Malbec
  • Abv: 13%
  • Vintage: 2018
  • Closure: Natural cork
  • Approx. retail price: £33
  • Medal: Gold – Malbec Masters 2021

This cuvée is only produced in exceptional vintages and comes from the communes of Caillac and Mercuès in Cahors. Its name derives from the number of vines per hectare, planted on three gravel terraces. The wine is elegant, if a little dramatic, with bold blackfruits accented by violet/rose petal nuances and nicely integrated wood. Racy acidity and silky, though abundant, tannins add structure and length to the beautifully poised flavours. A favourite carefully asking for a delicious duck confit. (Patricia Stefanowicz)

TRAPICHE TERROIR SERIES MALBEC FINCA COLETTO EL PERAL, TUPUNGATO, UCO VALLEY, 2018

  • Producer: Trapiche
  • Region: El Peral, Tupungato, Uco Valley
  • Country: Argentina
  • Grape variety: Malbec
  • Abv: 14.5%
  • Vintage: 2018
  • Closure: Cork
  • Approx. retail price: £30
  • Medal: Gold – Malbec Masters 2021

Benchmark Malbec maker Trapiche has been a longtime promoter of singlevineyard bottlings like this Finca Coletto from a 1100m parcel of 60-year-old vines in Tupungato. Choosing to isolate sites that produce wines of high quality and a distinctive character, these Terroir Series Malbecs are worth seeking out, with this sample showing notes of red and blue fruit, followed by a pleasing peppercorn spice, some fine dry tannin and a touch of sweet vanilla from 18 months spent in new French oak. (Patrick Schmitt)

CHÂTEAU DE HAUTE-SERRE, GERON DADINE DE HAUTE- SERRE CUVÉE PRESTIGE, CAHORS

  • Producer: Georges Vigouroux
  • Region: Cahors
  • Country: France
  • Grape variety: Malbec
  • Abv: 13.5%
  • Vintage: 2018
  • Closure: Cork
  • Approx. retail price: £40
  • Medal: Gold – Malbec Masters 2021

Part of the Georges Vigouroux stable of Malbecs from Cahors, the Geron Dadine de Haute-Serre is a wonderful taste of this grape from its native home in France. Slightly less overtly fruity and warming than you’d find in Argentina, this Malbec has some raspberry and blackberry fruit, and a touch of cherry coulis, but also notes of hay, spice, a hint of vanilla, and then a bright, finely-tannic, dry finish. (Patrick Schmitt)

TERRAZAS DE LOS ANDES APELACIÓN DE ORIGEN MALBEC-CABERNET SAUVIGNON PARAJE ALTAMIRA, 2019

  • Producer: Terrazas de Los Andes
  • Region: Uco Valley, Altamira, Mendoza
  • Country: Argentina
  • Grape variety: 85% Malbec, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Abv: 14.5%
  • Vintage: 2019
  • Closure: Natural cork
  • Approx. retail price: £35
  • Medal: Gold – Malbec Masters 2021

Altamira is one of the highest and southernmost areas of the Uco Valley, almost a desert, where vineyards require irrigation from – usually – the melting snows from the Andes mountains to the west. A gem of a wine showing crunchy blackcurrant, redcurrant, and wild strawberry fruit, with plenty of cedarwood and a bit of forest floor supported by brisk acidity and velvety tannins. Quite full and rich across the palate. (Patricia Stefanowicz)

CROCUS LE CALCIFÈRE PAUL BERTRAND

  • Producer: Paul Bertrand
  • Region: Cahors
  • Country: France
  • Grape variety: Malbec
  • Abv: 14.5%
  • Vintage: 2018
  • Closure: Cork
  • Approx. retail price: £39
  • Medal: Master – Malbec Masters 2021

The most exciting discovery from this year ’s Masters. Called Le Calcifère – in reference tothe limestone content of the vineyard soils where this Malbec is grown – it’s a Cahors produced under the Crocus JV brand from two great figures: top wine consultant Paul Hobbs and respected Cahors vintner Bertrand Gabriel Vigouroux. The result is something ripe and juicy, while also structured and restrained. There’s prune and blackcurrant, along with cracked pepper and cedar, then dark chocolate and cigar box. (Patrick Schmitt)

 

ENRIQUE FOSTER FIRMADO, 2015

  • Producer: Grupo Foster Lorca
  • Region: Luján de Cuyo, Uco Valley, Mendoza
  • Country: Argentina
  • Grape variety: Malbec
  • Abv: 14.5%
  • Vintage: 2015
  • Closure: Natural cork
  • Approx. retail price: £50+
  • Medal: Master – Malbec Masters 2021

A partnership between Enrique Foster and brilliant Argentinian oenologist Mauricio Lorca has produced this stupendous wine from the high-altitude vineyards of Luján de Cuyo in the Uco Valley of Mendoza. The wine is bursting with blackberry and bramble fruit laced with cedarwood and rose petal fragrance. Seemingly mid-weight and rather linear despite the high alcohol, the concentrated palate is framed by zesty acidity and corduroy-textured tannins with layers of flavours. (Patricia Stefanowicz)

MAURICIO LORCA GRAN POÉTICO MALBEC, 2017

  • Producer: Bodegas Mauricio Lorca
  • Region: Uco Valley, Mendoza
  • Country: Argentina
  • Grape variety: Malbec
  • Abv: 14.5%
  • Vintage: 2017
  • Closure: Cork
  • Approx. retail price: £45
  • Medal: Gold – Malbec Masters 2021

Produced in the moderate-climate Uco Valley at about 1,000m altitude, the vineyards benefit from plenty of sunlight and cool nights. With mixed berry fruits and capisicum and mint notes, the wine shows coconut and tobacco wood bolstered by grainy tannins and lively acidity. Full-bodied and warm on the palate with good flavour definition and length. Drinking well now, but no real hurry, this wine would suit succulent pig or even wild boar. (Patricia Stefanowicz)

SALENTEIN PRIMUS MALBEC, 2018

  • Producer: Salentein
  • Region: Uco Valley, Mendoza
  • Country: Argentina
  • Grape variety: Malbec
  • Abv: 15.5%
  • Vintage: 2018
  • Closure: Cork
  • Approx. retail price: £45
  • Medal: Gold – Malbec Masters 2021

The winery was a pioneer when it began in Uco Valley (1996), planting 800 hectares of vineyards on four estates – El Tomillo, El Oasis, La Pampa and San Pablo – at elevations between 1,050m and 1,700m altitude. These elevations ensure a diverse variety of microclimates that, in addition to the different soil types, imbue unique expressions in the wines. The winery is located in San Pablo, where Salentein began its pioneering work, and nowadays is the largest producer. The wine shows masses of ripe bramble and blackberry fruit and coconut, vanilla bean and chocolate with a hint of balsamic. It is rich and full-bodied. (Patricia Stefanowicz)

CATENA ALTA MALBEC, 2018

  • Producer: Catena Zapata
  • Region: Luján de Cuyo, Uco Valley, Mendoza
  • Country: Argentina
  • Grape variety: Malbec
  • Abv: 13.8%
  • Vintage: 2018
  • Closure: Cork
  • Approx. retail price: £35
  • Medal: Gold – Malbec Masters 2021

The historic Catena Zapata vineyards (first planted in 1902) are planted with the Catena family’s proprietary selection of Malbec, the Catena Cuttings. In 2018 the Catena Alta Malbec is sourced from Lot 18 of the Angélica vineyard, Lot 4 of the La Pirámide vineyard, Lot 1 of the Nicasia vineyard, Lot 6 of the Angélica Sur vineyard and Lot 9 of the Adrianna vineyard. The resulting wine has an appealing deep cherry colour with baked summer pudding fruits, creamy wood and floral overtones. Bright acidity and silky tannin give a nicely balanced wine in a restrained style with integrated fruit, wood and structure and good length. A wine for turkey or game birds and Camargue red rice. (Patricia Stefanowicz)

TERRAZAS DE LOS ANDES PARCEL 12 LICÁN MALBEC, 2018

  • Producer: Terrazas de Los Andes
  • Region: Uco Valley, Altamira, Mendoza
  • Country: Argentina
  • Grape variety: Malbec
  • Abv: 14.5%
  • Vintage: 2018
  • Closure: Natural cork
  • Approx. retail price: £50+
  • Medal: Master – Malbec Masters 2021

On high terraced vineyards in the prime location of the Altamira area of the Uco valley, this parcel is old volcanic rock soil at high altitude, over 1,000m. The wine is concentrated, with dark blackberries and morello cherries overlain with vanilla and coconut. Some development is evident across the voluptuous palate with leather and earth accenting the fruit. Supported by brisk acidity and dense tannins, the wine is a beautiful expression of Malbec: textured, layered and complex. (Patricia Stefanowicz)

GRAN ENEMIGO BLEND, 2017

  • Producer: El Enemigo Wines by Bodega Aleanna
  • Region: Gualtallary, Eco Valley, Mendoza
  • Country: Argentina
  • Grape variety: 50% Malbec, 15% Cabernet Franc, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Petit Verdot and Merlot
  • Abv: 14.0%
  • Vintage: 2017
  • Closure: Cork
  • Approx. retail price: £60
  • Medal: Master – Malbec Masters 2021

Gualtallary is a high-altitude wine area in Tupungato in the northern reaches of Argentina’s Uco Valley. The vineyards here are planted at the foot of the Andes at altitudes of around 1,600m in a near-desert area of mixed gravel-and-sand soils. Here both Malbec and Cabernet Franc flourish, and this wine, an ‘almost classic’ blend from the Right Bank of Bordeaux or the very best wines of Pécharmant or Cahors, is a sparkling diamond. With crunchy mixed berries and vanilla essence and a hint of freshly-picked herbs, it develops across the palate with juicy fruit balanced by racy acidity, and with linen-textured tannins. (Patricia Stefanowicz)

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The medallists from the Global Malbec Masters 2021

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