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Home Winners > Winners 2013 > NEW WORLD: Malbec

Winner Details

New World: Malbec

The inter-Andean rivalry swung back in favour of Argentina this year, as the category recorded its highest-ever medal count

Over the years, this has been one of the most contradictory of categories. While the Argentinian Malbec Varietal Classic section for wines under £12 consistently pulls in lots of medals and a good deal of positive feedback, this section – which ought to be where the more ambitious wines come to shine – has often left our tasters perplexed.

In fact, not only that, but the Chileans have increasingly come to exert a strong influence here at the expense of the Argentinians – they took three of the four medals last year.

Maybe it’s because the ‘no price limit’ nature of this category has meant it’s tended to pull in the kind of rather-too-pleased-with-themselves Argentinian wines that wear their oak like a public school tie and back it up with a bottle so heavy that it requires a team of Korean weightlifters to pour it.

This year, however, we saw much more of what we would expect from this area of the competition: Argentina dominating, with Chile in the background, and far more positive feedback, with the tasters enjoying attractive ripe fruit and a lighter hand on the oak tiller.

Though that’s not to say that everything in the Mendozan garden was rosy. As well as turning in a decent spread of medals, one team also had one wine that was described as ‘smelling of sardines’ and several ‘epic fails’.

‘It wasn’t a disaster,’ said Hotel TerraVina’s Laura Rhys MS. ‘But those that didn’t make it, really didn’t make it!’

The best wines had richness and voluptuousness, but with a bit of balance. There was still something of a tendency for wineries mistakenly to equate ‘complexity’ with ‘over-ripeness’ once prices moved north. But this – and particularly oak addiction – were much less pronounced than in previous years, and six medals was the most we’ve ever had here.

And the Cobos, at £39, was the first genuinely expensive Malbec to medal in the Sommelier Wine Awards. ‘It would be a hand sell, but it’s still a good wine,’ said Laura Rhys MS of Hotel Terravina. ‘And people do ask about the top Argentinian stuff.’

‘I’d buy [the Trapiche Gran Medalla] when I open a steak bar. It’s made for that.’
Christophe Richelet, Viajante