In his e-zine “Winophilia”, wine critic and expert Stephen Tanzer spotlighted and wrote about the Argentine Malbecs he tasted at his last annual tasting of Argentine wines.
At the very high end, Argentina produces some stunningly rich, complex, soil-inflected Malbecs priced above the hundred-dollar mark. These are status items at home in Argentina and have also found an audience at Argentine steakhouses in the U.S., where they can hold their own against many far more expensive Napa Valley cult cabernets. However, Tanzer’s extensive annual tastings of Argentine wines over the last decade have made it clear that you can enjoy wines not far off this exalted level for a fraction of the price.
Last month, the wine critic published a “Screaming Values” piece on excellent Malbec bottlings retailing for USD16 or less. For just a few dollars more, you can enjoy wines that merited ratings of 90 points or higher in the current issue of the International Wine Cellar—in other words, outstanding bottles that you won’t have to reserve for special occasions. Lured by the huge but highly competitive American market, a handful of serious producers are making consistently superb Malbecs and working with their U.S. importers to keep retail prices for these items in the $20 range. According to Tanzer, these bargains would outclass many Argentine Malbecs in the USD 40 – 80 price range he tasted in his annual tasting.
See below some of the wines Tanzer considered ridiculously cheap for their quality.
BenMarco 2012 Malbec Mendoza (Dominio del Plata Winery)
Terrazas de los Andes 2011 Malbec Reserva Mendoza
La Posta 2012 Malbec Pizzella Family Vineyard Mendoza
TintoNegro 2013 Limestone Block Malbec Mendoza
Decero 2012 Malbec Remolinos Vineyard Agrelo Mendoza
Durigutti 2013 Malbec HD Clasico Mendoza
Santa Florentina Reserva Malbec, la cepa emblématica de la Argentina, es el vino ideal para acompañar el menú del Día del Padre. Este vino intenso invita a compartir un asado o una deliciosa pasta con los padres de la familia.
Este Malbec se destaca por su color púrpura con destellos rubí. Su aroma es intenso, con un toque de ciruelas y guindas, con fondo a frutos secos como nueces y avellanas. Es un vino de buen cuerpo, aterciopelado y bien equilibrado
The Trivento Malbec is a good introduction to the grape because it is a fair representation of the grape at a great price. It is a full-bodied wine bursting with strawberry and cherry flavors. It is a big wine without being too heavy.
The wine is a beautiful bright red in the glass with pleasant aromas of plum and vanilla. The mellow tannins lead to a long, pleasant finish.
The grapes come from the Lujan de Cuyo and Uco Valley in Mendoza. After 20 days of fermentation in stainless steel tanks, the wine spent six months in French oak barrels. It also spent five months bottle aging before it was released.
The NQN Patagonia winery scored 90 points with its wine Malma Finca La Papay Malbec 2012, which was included in the Top 100 Value Wines of the US magazine Wines & Spirits.
Malma Finca La Papay Malbec 2012 is a young, fruity wine, with structure and Patagonia personality, boasting a style that remains successful among consumers and opinion shapers.
Sunny Argentina is a hotbed for value, especially for reds made from the country’s signature grape, Malbec. The Amalaya cuvée from Hess Family Latin America, a recent spin-off from Bodega Colomé, is a perennial top value from the northern Salta region and leads this report. The wine is a blend of 75 percent Malbec, with added Cabernet Sauvignon and Tannat for structure and a dash of Syrah for additional flesh.
Chilean producer Veramonte has crossed the Andes Mountains and released its first Mendoza Malbec. The 2010 bottling is a solid, plush version rounded out with Syrah and Petit Verdot. Winemaker Cristian Aliaga aged the wine for 14 months in French oak barrels, 30 percent new.
Finally, there are two rare Uco Valley Sauvignon Blancs from Bodegas y Viñedos O. Fournier. The Bcrux offers a classic profile with crisp citrus and straw notes, while the Alfa Crux is a richer version that owner and winemaker José Manuel Ortega has fermented in 500-liter oak barrels.
1- HESS FAMILY LATIN AMERICA Amalaya Calchaquí Valley 2010 Score: 89 | $17
2- BODEGA CUARTO DOMINIO Malbec Mendoza Chento 2010 Score: 89 | $20.
3- BODEGAS Y VIÑEDOS O. FOURNIER Sauvignon Blanc Uco Valley Alfa Crux 2009 Score: 89 | $29
4- CUVELIER DE LOS ANDES Malbec Mendoza 2010 Score: 88 | $18
5- CASARENA Malbec Mendoza 2010 Score: 87 | $17
6- FINCA SOPHENIA Malbec Tupungato Altosur 2010 Score: 87 | $12
7- MICHEL TORINO Malbec Calchaquí Valley Don David Reserve 2010 Score: 87 | $16
8- VERAMONTE Malbec Mendoza Primus 2010 Score: 87 | $20
9- FINCAS DON MARTINO Pedro Ximénez Mendoza Old Vine 2011 Score: 86 | $16
A distinct, crisp white, blending flavors of marcona almond and salted butter, with waxy lemon zest and peach pit notes that lead to a smoky finish. Drink now. 800 cases imported. —N.W.
10- RICARDO SANTOS Sémillon Mendoza Una Seleccion de la Finca de Roberto Azaretto 2011 Score: 86 | $16
11- BODEGAS Y VIÑEDOS SUR DE LOS ANDES Malbec Mendoza 2010 Score: 86 | $12
12- BROADBENT Malbec Mendoza 2010 Score: 85 | $14
13- BODEGAS Y VIÑEDOS O. FOURNIER Sauvignon Blanc Uco Valley Bcrux 2010 Score: 85 | $19
Durigutti Reviews from Stephen Tanzer!
2009 Durigutti Cabernet Sauvignon Mendoza, 90 Points Bright dark red. Sweeter on the nose than the 2010, offering scents and flavors of currant, plum, mocha and earth. At once saline and sweet, and a bit more concentrated than the 2010. The fat middle palate is nicely framed by harmonious acidity. Finishes broad, spicy and long, with a fine dusting of tannins that spread out to coat the palate. Lovely balance here.
2010 Durigutti Malbec Mendoza, 90 Points
Bright dark red. Perfumed aromas of blackberry, currant, violet, licorice and menthol lifted by hints of herbs and pepper. Supple, ripe and nicely concentrated, with mid-palate sweetness restrained by vigorous, harmonious acidity. Finishes thicker than the 2010 cabernet, with fine-grained tannins and lovely lingering fruits and herbs.
2008 Durigutti Malbec Reserva Mendoza, 92 Points Bright red-ruby. Pure, discreet aromas of black fruits and flowers; classy and vibrant. Silky on entry, then primary, fine-grained and deep in the middle, with a distinctly primary character and lovely definition of dark berry flavor. The seamless finish offers suave tannins, excellent energy and subtle building length. Beautifully balanced malbec with real class–not at all a blockbuster. And a great value.