With World Malbec Day falling on April 17 (to commemorate the date the first agricultural school in Argentina was founded) there’s now no excuse not to know at least a little about the grape that put Argentina to the wine-exporting map.
And as we said in our recently published Argentina report More than Malbec: Argentina’s experiential evolution, while Argentine wine’s quality goes up and diversity flourishes, what is exciting about the country is that it remains one of the best value zones to explore. Burgundy grapes have added more nuance to the country’s top wines, and malbec is shaping up to be a good all-rounder at all price points. It is still the major source of Argentina’s great value reds, but we also love many other wines including malbec and Bordeaux blends, cabernet sauvignon, bonarda, cabernet franc, some pinot noir, and syrah, and increasingly, those rare and super drinkable trousseaus as well as the crunchy, light-hearted and thirst-quenching criollas.
Having witnessed a cold winter followed by a cool spring and dry summer in Mendoza, 2019 was slightly cooler than its previous vintage. Despite some temperature peaks during the summer, the combination of dry and cool weather during harvest restrained the crop volume and maintained healthy color and concentration in the grapes with lifted acidity, leading to high acclaim from many winemakers.
Trapiche’s head winemaker Daniel Pi ranked his vintage preference in a sequence of 2019, 2018, and then 2020. “2019 shows more equilibrium, which might be slightly better than 2018, a year with many concentrated wines. 2020 was good, but it was a hot vintage” he said. Sebastian Zuccardi of the Zuccardi winery also shed some light on this with his summary of the past few vintages in a zoom call. “2013, 2018, and 2019 are classic, cool harvests; 2017, 2020 are warmer harvests; 2014, 2015, and 2016 are wetter vintages,” he said.
Today, Argentina’s malbec is widely enjoyed throughout the world. In 2020, it was exported to 115 countries, with the US, UK, and Brazil ranked as the top three markets. While many wines from 2019 are not yet released or readily available on the overseas market, we have selected the following 10 wines currently distributed with a price of just over $15. They are a narrow snapshot of just a few of the great value Argentine malbecs from this acclaimed vintage, which gives consumers a chance to feel how poised, layered, and drinkable these wines are.
–Zekun Shuai, associate editor
GREAT VALUE ARGENTINE 2019 MALBEC WINES
Kaiken Malbec Mendoza Ultra 2019 – JS94
International Price: $19
Trivento Malbec Luján de Cuyo Golden Reserve 2019 – JS93
US Price: $14
BenMarco Malbec Valle de Uco 2019 – JS93
International Price: $19
Domaine Bousquet Malbec Valle de Uco Gualtallary Tupungato Gran Malbec 2019 – JS93
US Price: $19