Malbec study: four top wines from Argentina

Malbec is such an interesting grape variety. It delivers across a range of climates: you can find it in the Loire, Bordeaux, Margaret River and Argentina (where it grows across a range of regions and climates within regions). Recognizing World Malbec Day (17 April), I opened some top examples from Argentina, and here are my notes. Argentina has taken ownership of this variety.

Catena Alta Historic Rows Malbec 2017 Mendoza, Argentina
13.5% alcohol
£32.90 Hedonism
This is a blend of 5 parcels from vineyards in Maipú, Agrelo, Altamira, Tupungato and San Carlos, that range in elevation from 920 to 1450m above sea level. As such, it’s representative of Mendoza more broadly. This is lush and sweet with luxurious sweet black cherry and blackberry fruit, with some nice fine-grained tannins. Notes of tar, salt and liquorice with some nice savouriness. Has depth to it, and also approachability, combining the ripe fruit of lower altitude sites with the floral brightness of some of the higher ones. Sophisticated stuff. 92/100

Bodega Atamisque Catalpa Old Vines Malbec 2018 Mendoza, Argentina
14.5% alcohol
£18.99 Hennings, £23 Secret Cellar
From vineyards at 1200 m in Tupungato in the Uco Valley, this is half aged in new French oak barrels and half in stainless steel. It’s fresh and expressive with juicy, floral black cherry and blackberry fruit, with a bit of tar, spice and cedar from the oak ageing. The freshness of the stainless steel version with its exuberant fruit blends well with the spicy, woody component aged in oak. A really bright, expressive wine. 92/100

Colomé Auténtico Malbec 2019 Salta, Argentina
14.5% alcohol
£31.99 Taste Argentina (tel 01691 664249 ), £32.95 Lea & Sandeman, £38 The Secret Cellar
This is from a very high altitude vineyard at 2300 m, and it has no oak influence, to try to let the place speak. It’s a rich, bold wine with sweet blackberry fruit and some black cherry aromatics. The palate is bold and dense with some tannic grip but also lovely richness: as well as the fresh fruit, there’s also amazing sleek, concentrated black fruits with some notes of chalk, fig and olive. 93/100

Inseparable 2018 Gualtallary, Mendoza, Argentina
14.5% alcohol
£32.50 The Sourcing Table (I declare an interest as contributing editor)
Part of the PerSe project from Edgardo (Edy) del Popolo and David Bonomi, this is from the bottom part of the monks’ vineyard (El Monasterio), at 1450 m altitude. It’s ripe and sweetly fruited with a savoury, gravelly, spicy edge to the sweet blackberry and berry fruit. There’s a generosity and ripeness to this wine with its sweet, luxurious fruit, but the aromatic, savoury-edged nose is really attractive. Has nice grip on the finish. 93/100

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