Malbec wines offer a delightful range of flavors and quality. They’re a great alternative to pricier Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. Its meteoric rise in popularity in the U.S. is due to the economic troubles of the early 2000s which caused wine prices to rise, and sent Americans in search of a delicious alternative to European wines.
Malbec is a populist wine discovered not by sommeliers, but by regular wine drinkers. In fact, it is found in more homes than restaurants.
This wine is originally from France with the majority of today’s French Malbec being found in Cahors, a small town upriver from Bordeaux. The grape never appeared as a top French varietal due to its poor resistance to pests and weather. Instead, it now flourishes in Mendoza, Argentina where a French botanist planted it under order of the mayor in 1868.
In Argentina, Malbec’s main flavors are blackberry, plum, and black cherry. French Malbec, however, is the opposite of Argentina’s fruit-forward flavors, featuring tart currant, black plum, pepper, and savory bitterness.
This flavor discrepancy is due to the grapes producing more acidity at higher elevations with hot days and cold nights. In lower elevations, like France, the grapes struggle to produce enough acidity. The climate also affects the flavors in Malbec with black cherry being the dominate flavor of cooler climates and blackberry for warmer regions.
To help you navigate the world of Malbec wines, we’ve put together a list of affordable and delicious varieties for you to try.
1. Trivento Amado Sur Malbec Blend
An aromatic wine that grabs you on the nose with red and black berries, baking spice, licorice, and a hint of chocolate. On the palate you’ll find loads of rich, juicy fruits with a wonderful mouthfeel and layers of peppery spice.
2. Bodega Norton Malbec Reserva
An enduring crowd-pleaser with dark fruit and cigar box spice on the nose that leads to a palate of dark cherry, black plum, swirled spice, and an earthy herbal character.
3. Luca Old Vine Malbec
Produced from 50-year old vines this wine shines with black cherry, chocolate, and earth on the nose. The palate is intense and elegant with black fruit and sweet spice.
4. Cantena Malbec
A wonderful introduction to the world of Malbec. This wine features delightful floral notes of violet, lavender, and sage. This wine is jammy and juicy on the palate with black plum, blueberry, tobacco leaf, and minerality.
5. La Posta Paulucci Malbec
A super savory red with aromas of ripe plum, blackberry, lavender, mint, and pepper. Savory and juicy on the palate featuring blackberries, cherries, and plum with a long finish leading to vanilla and cameral.
6. La Flor Malbec Rosé
This high-altitude red wine presents a soft pink hue and fresh fruits like strawberries and cherries on the nose. It’s light on the palate with soft layers of roses, raspberries, and strawberries leading to a fresh and balanced finish.
7. Dante Robino Malbec
An excellent table wine for everyday enjoyment features a familiar bouquet with classic berry aromas and a hint of sharpness. A solid palate with a bit of tangy cherry flavors with a juicy and fresh finish.
8. Portillo Malbec
This chunky, ripe wine is dark in color and displays concentrated black-fruit scents with wisps of leather. An aggressive palate of pepper and berry flavors falling off into a dry, yet substantial finish.