Wine Reviews: Malbec & More from Argentina

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 04-17-2022

Welcome back. I hope your Spring is going well so far. Seems like there’s a “day” for everything these days: Donut Day; National Sibling Day; National Ditch Work and Go Fishing Day. OK, one of those might not be a “thing.”

But today, April 17, is “World Malbec Day,” set to commemorate the first agricultural school in Argentina, which opened in 1853.

For a long time now, Malbec and Argentina have become synonymous in the minds of many wine consumers – you all know this. The sprawling vineyards of Mendoza and other regions are home to so much Malbec, Malbec-based blends, not to mention other Bordeaux varieties.

And another great thing? You can probably find all of these babies for less than $25. These wines were received as trade samples and tasted single-blind.

2021 Alavida Malbec Kosher Argentina, Mendoza
SRP: $19
Vibrant purple color. The nose shows juicy red cherries and plums, with sweet cola and violets, a lot of fun on the nose. Smooth tannins, moderate acidity, with tart currants and spicy cranberries. An accessible style, fresh and fun, with notes of pepper, tobacco and some earthy vibes. Nicely done, fan-friendly stuff. Aged in 10% new French oak. (87 points IJB)

2019 Bodegas Salentein Malbec Reserve Argentina, Mendoza, Valle de Uco
SRP: $17
Dark purple color. Ooh, this has a ton to offer on the nose, with a compote of warm blackberry and cherries, laced with coffee, pencil lead, lots of coffee grounds, charcoal and tobacco – impressive. Medium-bodied, refined tannins, fresh acidity, supporting the tart but deep plum and currant fruit. Complexities of chewing tobacco, graphite, coffee and scorched earth. I even get some mushroom and soy glaze elements. Really fresh and vibrant but shows a lot of depth. I was shocked to see the price point. (91 points IJB)

2018 Mascota Vineyards Malbec Unánime Argentina, Mendoza
SRP: $25
Violet color. The nose exudes sweet plums and dark currants, roasted figs and plum cakes, with notes of mocha, mesquite, with gravelly, iron and tilled soil elements. Smooth and chewy, suave tannins, vibrant acidity with tangy, dark plums, currants and blackberries. Notes of dark chocolate and coconut shavings, coffee grounds, black tea, iron, gravel, potting soil – there’s a lot of going on, here. Nuanced, expressive, but this will also age well for a few years. Aged 15 months in new French oak. (90 points IJB)

2020 Bodega Catena Zapata Malbec High Mountain Vines Argentina, Mendoza
SRP: $22
Light purple color. Juicy and suave on the nose with jammy black cherries, mixed with warm black tea, cocoa, some minty, earthy vibes. Medium-bodied, soft tannins and vibrant acidity on the palate makes this a playful, accessible style with tart black cherry and raspberry compote. Notes of tobacco, spicy paprika, some clove. Lots of fun. (87 points IJB)

2020 Trivento Malbec Reserve Argentina, Mendoza
SRP: $11
A lively purple color. The nose pops with sweet blueberries and blackberry jams, along with mocha, toffee and red licorice, with some stony, earthy vibes. Plush texture on the palate with smooth tannins and medium acidity. Juicy cherries and blackberries  with some sweet cocoa, loamy earth and stony mineral tones. A down-the-middle Malbec but “real” tasting, too. Smooth, lively, crowd-pleasing stuff. For this price point… again, another great example of Mendoza Malbec value. (88 points IJB)

2018 Trapiche Malbec Gran Medalla Argentina, Mendoza
SRP: $20
An electric purple color. The nose is deep with plum sauce and jammy cherries, mixed with earth, warm stones, shaved pencil lead, with mocha and some iron tones. Zesty acidity on the palate keeps this really fresh, while smooth tannins support the snappy blueberry and black cherry fruit. Roasted figs, mocha, toffee and espresso mix with elements of graphite, paved road, dried violet petals. Tangy and deep but an accessible feel as well, this has a lot of vibrancy, spice and appeal. (90 points IJB)

2019 Orfila Malbec Estate Selection Argentina, Mendoza
SRP: $15
Bright purple color. Gorgeous smoky, minty, peppery nose, with warm sage, dark chocolate shavings, all over top of tangy plum fruit. The palate shows a balanced blend of dust tannins, tangy acidity and tart black currant fruit. Elements of roasted red peppers, cracked black pepper and anise mix with graphite, minerals and even some meaty tones. A whole lot of balance and depth in here for the price. Aged in a mix of French and American oak. (89 points IJB)

2018 Orfila Malbec Reserva Argentina, Mendoza
SRP: $20
Deep purple color. Gorgeous nose, deep but alive, tart but juicy, with blackberries and dark plums tossed together with smoky, meaty, peppery, paved road tones. The grippy tannins offer a nice backbone, while fresh acidity keeps it lip-smacking, and I get bright currant and blueberry fruit that shows a lot of depth. Laced with spicy, earthy, peppery notes, along with coffee, pencil shavings and rose potpourri. Great mouthfeel and minerals on the finish, another wine that shocked me with its price. Mendoza Malbec value, for the win! Aged 12 months in a mix of French and American oak. (91 points IJB)

Other wines

2020 Orfila Cabernet Sauvignon Estate Selection Argentina, Mendoza
SRP: $15
Medium purple color. So spicy on the nose! Tobacco, bell peppers, tar, pepper, smoked meats – lovely stuff – over tart black currant fruit. The palate shows refreshing acidity and suave tannins with crunchy red and black currant fruits. The violet petals, pepper, tar and pepperoni elements add a nice kick. Savory, earthy, it’s accessible and an early-drinking style but the complexity is really nice. (89 points IJB)

2018 Orfila Reserva Argentina, Mendoza
SRP: $20
Dark purple. Smells like tart currants and blackberries, along with some pine tar, smoked meats, beef drippings, tobacco and sage – a really cool combo. Smooth tannins, vibrant acidity, juicy and vibrant black cherry fruit, it all is woven together really well. Violets, tar, anise, mint, cocoa, these elements play off each other nicely and this wine has a lot of personality and freshness that I find very attractive. 50/50 Malbec/Cabernet Sauvignon, aged 12 months in a mix of French and American oak. (90 points IJB)

2018 Luigi Bosca Cabernet Franc De Sangre ­- Argentina, Mendoza
SRP: $22
Deep purple color. The nose shows a lovely mix of smoky tar and tobacco over dark plums, black cherries, and tossed with cocoa, pepper, bay leaf and coffee. Saucy yet fresh on the palate with dusty tannins and tangy blueberries and black cherries. Alive and vibrant with complexities of pepper ,warm clay, tobacco and sage. Delightful now but this should age nicely for five years or so. Really solid value in here. (90 points IJB)

2019 Bodega El Esteco Cabernet Sauvignon Don David Reserve Argentina, Salta, Cafayate
SRP: $13
Vibrant purple color. The nose of blueberries, roasted figs, dark plums, with lots of black pepper, dried red pepper and eucalyptus – so spicy and interesting. Medium/full-bodied but fresh with chewy tannins, with blackberries and blueberries. There’s a complex mix of charcoal, smoky earth, black pepper, charcoal. A stony, mineral essence throughout – really balanced and lively. Classic Argentina Cab, and I was surprised to see the price point. (90 points IJB)

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