Far from its home in southwest France, Malbec has made a name for itself in Argentina since it was first introduced there in the mid-19th century. Argentina boasts the world’s highest collective vineyard altitude, with an average height of 823 meters (2,700 feet). One of the primary benefits of increased altitude is greater fluctuations in day-to-night temperature variation. Sunlight increases sugar and other complex flavors during the ripening process, while night-time cold preserves the grapes’ natural acidity.
While the majority of Argentina’s Malbec grows in Mendoza, whose vineyards climb from 457 meters (1,500 feet) to 1,700 meters (5,577 feet), it is also cultivated in even higher altitude vineyards in Salta to the north and closer to sea level in the cold Rio Negro region in the country’s south. Higher altitudes in Mendoza and Salta and colder year-round temperatures in Rio Negro have caused Argentine Malbec to develop a thicker skin, which leads to stronger tannins than you may find in Malbec raised elsewhere. More producers than ever are bottling versions from Mendoza’s subregions, including Uco Valley and Lujan de Cuyo. Expect dark fruit flavors of black cherry, blackberry and plum along with notes of ground pepper, dark chocolate, espresso bean, leather and pipe tobacco. This bold flavor profile alongside medium to heavy tannins makes Malbec the perfect pour when well-marbled cuts of meat are on the menu.
Terrazas de los Andes 2019 Malbec Mendoza
This 100 percent Malbec is sourced from three vineyards in Mendoza. Grapes from Las Compuertas and Los Chacayes bring rich berry aromas, bracing minerality and round tannins, while grapes from Los Castaños add floral and dried herb notes. It is generous in the mouth with balanced acidity and silky tannins.
Catena Zapata Argentino 2019 Malbec Mendoza
Grapes for this delightful Malbec are grown at elevations between 3,018 and 3,593 feet in soils composed of clay and gravel. It is ruby violet in color with aromas of purple flowers and freshly picked blueberries. In the mouth there are flavors of blackberry and brown baking spices with pleasantly grippy tannins. Enjoy now or lay down for a decade.
Viña Cobos Chañares Estate 2018 Malbec Uco Valley
Rich purple in the glass, this Uco Valley Malbec has heady aromas of freshly harvested blackberries, bramble and dried Mediterranean herbs. It is unfiltered and aged in French oak for 18 months. On the palate it has silky tannins and is rich with dark fruit flavors.
Colome Altura Maxima 2015 Malbec Salta
Grapes for this stunning wine are grown in the Altura Maxima Estate Vineyard at altitudes of 10,200 feet in Calchaqui Valley making it one of the highest vineyards in the world. It is aged for 24 months in French oak barrels and 27 barrels were produced. It is deep purple and brooding in the glass with aromas of red fruits and dark berries. In the mouth it is elegant with balanced acidity and silky tannins.
Susana Balbo Nosotros 2017 Malbec Mendoza
This intriguing wine is dark purple in the glass with a bouquet of dark cherries, red currants and red plums. Flavors of blackberries and cassis are joined by a lifted note of violet and fine-grained tannins. The grapes for this wine are grown at altitudes of 3,215 feet and after fermentation it is aged for 16 months in French oak barrels.
Achaval Ferrer Finca Altamira 2016 Malbec Uco Valley
Hailing from Altamira in the Uco Valley this Malbec has aromas of black currant, baking spices and dried Provençal herbs. In the mouth it is juicy and has flavors of toasted coconut, cinnamon, blackberry and ripe black plum. It progresses to a fruit filled finish with just a touch of dried tarragon in the post palate. Drink through 2030.
Bodega Noemia de Patagonia 2016 Malbec Rio Negro
Grapes for this Patagonian Malbec are grown in southern Argentina’s Rio Negro region on pre-phylloxera vines that were planted in 1932. It is deep purple in color with aromas of black plums, black currant and cinnamon. On the palate there are flavors of dark fruits, espresso coffee bean and dark chocolate. The silky tannins and balanced acidity linger into a finish that goes on and on.
Zuccardi Finca Piedra Infinita 2017 Malbec Uco Valley
An excellent choice for those who don’t like a lot of oak influence in their Malbec, this wine is fermented in concrete vats, with 30 percent aged in 500-liter oak casks. This results in a wine with a heady bouquet and bright red and black fruit flavors and a pleasant level of acidity in the appealing fruit finish.
Pyros Limestone Hill 2018 Malbec Pedernal Valley
Grapes grown for this mineral-driven Malbec are grown in limestone soils in the Pedernal Valley at altitudes of 4,600 feet above sea level. It has aromas of purple flowers, red currant and dried Mediterranean herbs. On the palate bracing acidity and minerality are followed by warm layers of dark fruits, brown baking spices, supple tannins and a persistent finish.
Luigi Bosca Los Nobles 2020 Malbec Luján de Cuyo
This ruby-garnet colored Malbec has aromas of sweet baking spices, black fruit confiture and just a whiff of wood smoke thanks to aging in new French oak barrels for 16 to 18 months. It is generous in the mouth with bold fruit and floral flavors, smooth tannins and a lingering finish. Drink now or hold through 2040.