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Home Winners > Winners 2012 > VARIETAL CLASSICS: Argentine Malbec

Winner Details

Varietal Classics: Argentinian Malbec

Wow! Lots of medals, good prices, and smitten tasters. The Argentinian Malbec Varietal Classic was one of the stars of 2012


This section (sub-£12) has grown big-time since its creation last year. And this year the Advance of the Malbecs continued, doubling in size on 2011’s already chunky entry. And that, of course, doesn’t include all the ones sent into the New World Malbec area of the competition. Malbec, we can conclude without fear of contradiction, is a hot category.

Nearly all the wines came from Mendoza, though there were, surprisingly given that it’s setting itself up as the country’s cool-climate region, a few from Patagonia as well. Since none got medals, perhaps they should stick to Pinot.

Nearly all the winning wines were 2010s, and prices of wines submitted covered the full gamut, from a barely believable £3.59 up to just under the £12 cut-off. The majority, though, were in the £6-£10 bracket, which pretty much covered our two Gold Listed wines.

‘The Chakana is simply an excellent-value wine,’ said Northcote Manor’s Adam Pawlowski. ‘It’s got plenty of varietal character, good juicy fruit, balanced structure and it’s concentrated yet fresh at a price that means it would sell itself.’

Bread Street Kitchen’s Nigel Lister was similarly impressed with its pricier counterpart on the Gold List, the Salentein Reserve. ‘This has everything you are looking for in a Malbec for the restaurant list,’ he said. ‘Good, deep, aromatic fresh fruit, with liquorice and integrated oak. Although it has mouth-filling weight, there’s some elegance, which makes it fresh on the finish. Obviously it’ll be great with steak, but really it’ll work with any meaty dish or stew.’

Indeed, although there were only two Gold-Listed wines, there could have been many more. While the tasters found some variability in the early stages of tasting (with the perennial issue of oak management rearing its lignin-lined head once again), once the stragglers had been weeded out, the remaining medal winners were truly impressive, with the judges happy to bask in a blackberry-and-coconut-flavoured lake of quality. This was a category where the overall quality was very high.

‘I would like to nominate the entire flight for a Critics Choice award,’ said a smitten Joris Beijn of Andaz. ‘You could list any of these medal-winning wines and they would sell. The quality was high and the wines are very good examples of balanced Malbec.’

‘These are the kind of wines that will work well with curry – spice and tannins work well together.’ Maria Rodriguez, consultant.