From its beginnings in france, where the region of Cahors requires at least 70% of wines to be made from the grape, to its rise in popularity in Argentina and its progression from blending grape to premium single variety wines in Australia, malbec is making its mark.
Our tongues are tired, our teeth are black and we can already feel the ulcers forming, but after 27 malbecs tasted, here are our top 12.
2016 Château La Reyne Le Tradition, Cahors, France, A$31
Aromas of sour red cherry and cranberry with hints of purple and black plum. It’s dense and inky with flavours of red, black and purple fruits, fresh acidity and puckering tannins with a savoury finish.
2016 Château La Reyne Le Préstige, Cahors, France, A$38
Fifth-generation winemaker Johan Vidal is behind the wines of Château La Reyne. Fruits of the forest, bramble and black cherry aromas lead to a medium-bodied palate with fine, grainy tannins, subtle acidity and a long finish.
2018 Alamos Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina, A$20
This shows a medicinal, floral and aniseed nose with a vibrant, medium- to full-bodied palate of crisp red and purple fruit, and a slight gamy note with a cherry medicine, confection-like flavour. Ripe tannins and good flow lead to a vibrant, polished finish.
2016 Mérite Malbec, Wrattonbully, $A60
Colleen and Mike Miller have worked tirelessly to find the best clones of malbec for their terra rossa soils. This is produced from Argentinian clones and shows subtle aromas of black cherry, cedar oak and red liquorice. It’s medium-bodied and saline with distinctive eucalyptus, crisp red berries, black plum skin, bright acidity and black tea-like tannins.
2016 Jed Wines Limited Release Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina, A$35
Sydney-based Tom Egan and the Jed team make the pilgrimage to Mendoza each year to make malbec wines they feel best reflect the region. Cranberry, slightly underripe cherry and earthy aromas. Glossy palate of red and black fruits, white pepper and a powerful saline character. Fine, slowly building tannins and mineral, savoury acidity.
2016 Bodega Catena Zapata Alta Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina, A$105
Big, bold, ripe and generous – a total fruit bomb with added complexities of olive leaf, mouth-watering chalky acidity and puckering salty tannins. There’s a nice chocolatey note on the finish. High drinkability.
2017 Bodega Noemia J Alberto Malbec, Patagonia, Argentina, A$110
Strawberry and black cherry aromas lead to a medium- to full-bodied palate of medicinal black cherry, black olive, mouth-watering acidity and fine, silty tannins.
2018 Fat Bastard Remarkably Full-Bodied Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina, A$17
Pretty violet-like perfume, black and red cherry and white pepper. Palate is indeed full-bodied, as the name suggests, and savoury – think grilled meats and charcuterie framed by a Benadryl-like medicinal note. Structured and grippy with a firm finish.
2015 Viniterra Single Vineyard Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina, A$50
Fresh, vibrant nose of black fruits, licorice and a hint of molasses. The palate is full-bodied with seamless, energetic flow, framed by crisp, crunchy acidity and ultra-fine tannins. A structured, characterful wine.
2017 La La Land Malbec, Victoria, A$15
Fragrant strawberry and red and black cherry characters on the nose. It’s light and juicy with red cherry flavours, super light tannins and fresh, linear acidity. Would be good with a chill – simple but done well.
2015 Bodega Catena Zapata Argentino Vineyard Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina, A$228
Stewed black fruits, smokiness, freshness a bit lacking, full-bodied, viscous palate of black plum, black olive and red fruit acidity. It’s full of big grippy tannins. Long life ahead of it.
2014 Cloudburst Malbec, Margaret River, A$500
Yep. A varietal malbec from Margaret River for $500. Don’t ask questions. Proprietor and winemaker Will Berliner’s reputation for impeccably balanced and seamless wines is evident in this. Cassis, blackcurrant and eucalyptus aromas lead to a full-bodied palate of cedary oak, eucalyptus, rich black fruits and tight, puckering tannins. It’s built for the long haul.