Winner Details

Malbec

There’s no doubt at all that Malbec – specifically Mendozan Malbec – is up there with Kiwi Sauvignon and Prosecco as one of the wine world’s power brands. Customers know it, look for it, and order it (uncritically) with confidence.

And the best wines here showed why: juicy fruit, just enough tannic bite and a gentle lift of high-altitude acidity. The pricing was pretty good too. What’s not to like?

Unfortunately, there are still a lot of wines from Mendoza that don’t match this profile. The big problems are (in no particular order) over-extraction, over-sweetness and over-oaking. It was more of a factor as the wines went up through the price points. We had a fair few entries in the £15+ price area, but not many of them picked up top medals.

Wineries, said our tasters, need to have the confidence to let the fruit do its thing and not overwork it.

In fact, one of the interesting factors of this section of SWA seems to be the growing success of Malbec outside Argentina. Vistamar’s Chilean example was exceptional value, while Left Field’s Hawke’s Bay version was a huge hit with the judges. Both made it onto our Gold List. Watch this space…

From The Tasting Teams

‘They need to stop making wine for a particular type of person. Just show the nuances of your vineyards and your grapes.’ Stephanie Robertson, RA Group

‘You’d need to have a dedicated sommelier to recommend the more expensive wines. An average guest would expect Malbec from Argentina to be between £30 and £60 on a list.’ Anja Breit, abWINEconsulting

‘By the time the more expensive wines get on a list, they will be £80. I think you have to be a big Malbec-lover for that.’ Nelio Pinto, Candlesticks

‘I was really disappointed. There was a whole trend of Pinot-like Malbec, and in the middle range, some were quite hot and sweet – too fleshy and cloying.’ Sarah Jane Evans MW, team leader

‘[The Left Field] was textural and interesting. It gave a kick to the overall life of the Malbec – clean and very precise. It sounds weird, but you can detect the Kiwi personality of the wine there.’ Filippo Pastorini, consultant

‘The trick with Malbec is not overpowering the fruit and trying to make it bigger than it is. You want that extra layer, but you don’t want big tannins.’ Dave Cushley, Prestonfield House

‘I like the relaxed wines, with an elegance and suppleness to them – the ones that allow the fruit to come through.’ Nigel Lister, St. Swithins Wine Shippers

‘[The Left Field Malbec] screams of both the place of the grape – really brilliant.’ Jade Koch, consultant

‘Regionality doesn’t really matter here – it’s Mendoza Malbec, sadly. I’ll have three on the list between £60 and £90, so I can easily move between one price or another.’ Tanguy Martin, Blandford Compoir

Award winners

Found 46 wines

New World: Malbec

Melipal, Malbec 2018, Mendoza, Argentina

Gold medal winner

'A juicy, plush and robust Malbec that's of its type and style, with some dark fruits, a hint of sweet oak, good acidity and some freshness.' Victoria Sharples, St John Restaurant Group. 'A deep, rich and juicy wine, with some additional spice and tannins that are very firm but drinking well.' Timothy Connor, Heddon Street Kitchen. 'Generous chocolatey fruit, with blackberries and blueberries for days.' Joshua Castle, Noble Rot.

£11.00 Jeroboams

Left Field, Malbec 2018, Hawke's Bay, New Zealand

Gold medal winner

'A cool, breezy example of Malbec that's expressive and ripe, with good acidity and freshness. An interesting wine.' Jade Koch, team leader. 'Sweet savoury oak, sandalwood and vanilla, with some taut, peppery, crunchy fruit - this is a lovely perfumed style, with superb oak treatment. It has a very pure, high-toned character and an elegant, svelte palate.' Angela Reddin, team leader.

£10.13 Hatch Mansfield, Matthew Clark

Kaiken, Ultra, Malbec 2018, Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina

Gold medal winner

'This scores high on drinkability, with good breezy minerality on the nose, and tannins that build forgivingly.' Oliver Zelenczuk, London Shell Co. 'A bold and savoury wine that's full of flavour, with sweet spices and black peppercorn notes.' Lucie Hammerschmiedova, Portland Restaurant. 'Great potential but already approachable, with a soft and velvety texture and a spicy finish.' Rémi Cousin, Le Gavroche.

£11.55 Liberty Wines

Vistamar, Sepia Reserva, Malbec 2018, Maule Valley, Chile

Gold medal winner

'A minty fresh and fruity wine with a super-juicy palate, and very good value too.' Rémi Cousin, Le Gavroche. 'Good concentration of chewy black fruits carrying through to the palate - a clean and bright example.' Jade Koch, team leader. 'This has a fruity, lifted nose, with notes of mulberry and sweet red plum. An easy-drinking wine that overdelivers on price.' Angela Reddin, team leader.

£5.10 The Whalley Wine Shop

Argento, Malbec 2018, Mendoza, Argentina

Gold medal winner By the glass

'A succulent, juicy Malbec showing rich fruit, spice and a dried herb note.' Sarah Jane Evans MW, team leader. 'Juicy black cherries, black plums and blueberries, with a touch of green pepper bell and oak notes of toast, smoke and leather.' Adam Michocki, The Man Behind The Curtain. 'With its generous inky texture, and lots of black fruit, this is a wine to drink with richer meaty dishes.' Joshua Castle, Noble Rot.

£8.13 Bibendum

Zuccardi, Apelación, Malbec 2017, Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina

Gold medal winner

'An exuberant, fruity style with an excellent tannic backbone and some smoky, earthy complex notes, with violet and rose scents along with mulberry, plum and blackberry and a grating of mocha.' Angela Reddin, team leader. 'Very restaurant- and wine bar-focused, with savoury, meaty aromas and some blackcurrant leaf herbaceousness. Ripe and juicy, with chunky but ripe tannins.' Charlie Young, team leader.

£10.31 Hatch Mansfield

Bemberg, La Linterna, Malbec 2014, La Consulta, Mendoza, Argentina

Gold medal winner

'A complex, layered wine with black cherry, black plum, blueberry, blackberry and violets, as well as some toast, smoke and leather, with good concentration and a well-balanced structure of acidity, tannins and alcohol.' Adam Michocki, The Man Behind The Curtain. 'With sweet, ripe and jammy fruits, this is a very polished style that's good for high-end steak restaurants.' Laura Rhys MS, team leader.

£49.39 Top Selection

Amalaya, Malbec 2019, Salta, Argentina

Gold medal winner

'This is pure and intense, with fresh, crunchy blue fruit, some nice texture and grip, and a persistent finish.' Harry Crowther, Grape Times UK. 'Good black fruit notes, as well as a meaty, gamey element, and some oak-driven spice.' Laura Rhys MS, team leader. 'Punchy, juicy Malbec with great spice - a perfect style to have by the glass in a pub.' Timothy Connor, Heddon Street Kitchen.

£8.75 Liberty Wines

Salentein, Osado, Malbec 2018, Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina

Silver medal winner

'Dark, spiced plum aromas, leading to jammy dark plum and a hint of spice on the palate, with good acidity that maintains the tension between the tannins and fruit flavours, all leading to a fruity finish.' Charlie Carter, L' Atelier Du Vin. 'Intense, bold and juicy fruit, with some black peppercorn and a meatiness too.' Lucie Hammerschmiedova, Portland Restaurant.

£8.99 Matthew Clark

Salentein, Primus, Malbec 2016, Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina

Silver medal winner

'A Malbec with huge personality and big, ripe fruit accompanied by some savoury notes, earthy leather and chocolate. You've got to love the texture and balance to match here too. Very approachable now for such a big wine.' Daniel Eriksen, Anglian Country Inns. 'Controlled, poised and elegant, showing some precision winemaking.' Angela Reddin, team leader.

£33.13 Matthew Clark

Alpasión, Grand Malbec 2016, Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina

Silver medal winner

'Lovely scented floral fruity aromas with savoury nuances lead to mouth-filling and dense fruity intensity, with a massive tannic structure that holds the fruit really well. This shows balance in a muscular style, with excellent winemaking that keeps this wine sculpted and very presentable.' Angela Reddin, team leader.

£17.94 Matthew Clark

Piattelli Vineyards, Grand Malbec 2017, Salta, Argentina

Silver medal winner

'A light style with some French oak notes of cinnamon and nutmeg, leading to raspberry and blueberry fruits, and culminating in an elegant finish with notes of liquorice.' Tom Forrest, team leader. 'Cherry and herbaceous, with tannins well integrated into the texture of the wine.' Chiara Sieni, MM Grocery.

£15.87 Hallgarten & Novum Wines

Andeluna, Altitud, Malbec 2016, Mendoza, Argentina

Silver medal winner

'Elegant Malbec with aromas of black fruits and flowers, like violets, leading to ripe blackberry flavours and smooth velvety tannins. A bold and structured wine with hints of spices, and some additional coffee and mocha notes from the presence of oak.' Cinthia Lozano, The Winery Honduras.

£14.96 Hallgarten & Novum Wines

Amalaya, Gran Corte 2018, Salta, Argentina

Silver medal winner

'A fantastic Malbec with very well-balanced fruit, oak, tannins and acidity, leading to a long, harmonious finish.' Immacolata Cannavo, Hakkasan Mayfair. 'A classic blockbuster style with full, rich, ripe fruits, a meaty, gamey component, and some really bold oak.' Laura Rhys MS, team leader.

£11.75 Liberty Wines

Mascota, La Mascota, Malbec 2018, Mendoza, Argentina

Silver medal winner

'With ripe red plums and some developed notes of coffee, and dark chocolate, there's good fruit concentration on the palate, with a fresh, herbal finish.' Luís Martins, team leader. 'Rich, earthy and quite easy-drinking, with notes of red berries and blueberries.' Bianca Potenza, 212 Amsterdam.

£10.36 Enotria&Coe

Pannunzio, Malbec 2017, Mendoza, Argentina

Silver medal winner

'A crowd-pleasing style with ripe plum and cherry fruit, as well as some creamy oak. Powerful and easy.' Victoria Sharples, St John Restaurant Group. 'Very intense and energetic, with notes of leather and black olives, as well as some chocolate, with good balance between acidity and tannins.' Jade Koch, team leader.

£11.57 Top Selection

Callia, Luna del Sur, Malbec 2019, San Juan, Argentina

Bronze medal winner

'Very ripe black cherry notes on the nose that follow onto the palate, with black pepper notes too, accompanied by some wild black forest fruits and a brisk acidity.' Nigel Lister, St. Swithins Wine Shippers. 'Spicy baked plum crumble and juicy blackberries, with some soft tannins.' Vivienne Franks, Aspects of Wine.

£6.39 Matthew Clark

Viniterra, Equino, Malbec 2018, Mendoza, Argentina

Bronze medal winner

'There's good typicity for the price here, with sweet fruit and spice notes.' Laura Rhys MS, team leader. 'Notes of black cherry, plum and toast, accompanied by some rustic tannins.' Adam Michocki, The Man Behind The Curtain. 'Some good fruit, spice and structure - good value.' Dave Cushley, Prestonfield House.

£6.75 LWC Drinks

Durigutti , Las Compuertas 1914, Malbec 2017, Mendoza, Argentina

Bronze medal winner

'A well-made Malbec that's fresh and crunchy at the same time, with smooth and ripe tannins.' Arturo Scamardella, The Ritz London. 'Well balanced, with a big structure and loads of oak, but with concentration and freshness too, along with plenty of black fruits and aromatic herbs.' Guillaume Mahaut, ETM Group.

£23.68 Bibendum

Domaine Bousquet, Reserve, Malbec 2017, Mendoza, Argentina

Bronze medal winner

'A nicely perfumed wine with some raspberry notes, and a touch of elegance.' Nigel Lister, St. Swithins Wine Shippers. 'Chunky tannins open to reveal red and black fruits, with good intensity and brightness. A very drinkable wine that begs for some grilled meats.' Tim Smith, Winesurfer Consulting.

£11.25 Davy's Wine Merchants

Vistalba, Corte A 2016, Mendoza, Argentina

Bronze medal winner

'This is showing notes of dried flowers and some ripe flavours of cherry, plum and blackberry, with some smooth tannins.' Chiara Sieni, MM Grocery. 'I love this wine's crunchy juicy fruit, with some spice in the background.' Timothy Connor, Heddon Street Kitchen. 'This is dark, spicy, enticing and elegant.' Dave Cushley, Prestonfield House.

£28.34 Bibendum

Catena Zapata, Appellation, Vista Flores, Malbec 2017, Mendoza, Argentina

Bronze medal winner

'An elegant and savoury wine with jammy fruit, dried roses and spices, as well as a peppery, meaty element.' Lucie Hammerschmiedova, Portland Restaurant. 'Deep and intense, and showing some complexity, from red fruit to black jammy fruit, as well as some lovely sweet spice notes.' Rémi Cousin, Le Gavroche.

£12.45 Bibendum

Salentein, Barrel Selection, Malbec 2018, Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina

Bronze medal winner

'Savoury and intense, yet elegant too, with dark morello cherries and spices, as well as some meaty, leathery notes.' Lucie Hammerschmiedova, Portland Restaurant. 'A firm and intense wine that shows some dark berry notes alongside some dark cherries too.' Tanguy Martin, Blandford Comptoir.

£14.17 Matthew Clark

Colomé, Estate 2018, Salta, Argentina

Bronze medal winner

'With dark, juicy fruit notes of cassis, plum and blackberry, some smoky, meaty notes and a mineral finish, there's lovely balance here, creating a food-friendly style of Malbec. Charred, barbecued meat!' Laura Rhys MS, team leader. 'Big flavoured, with a lot of black cherries and black plums, with sweet spices too.' Adam Michocki, The Man Behind The Curtain.

£14.40 Liberty Wines

Colomé, Autentico 2019, Salta, Argentina

Bronze medal winner

'This has a captivating nose of dark fruit, spice and chocolate, with good structure and balance.' Lukas Nikanorovas, 20 Stories. 'A rich, intense wine with some spicy baked black fruit notes.' Vivienne Franks, Aspects of Wine. 'There's a slightly saline note to the dark tannic fruit - this needs a bit of time, and a rare steak.' Nigel Lister, St. Swithins Wine Shippers.

£21.95 Liberty Wines

Caliterra, Reserva, Malbec 2016, Colchagua Valley, Chile

Bronze medal winner

'There's good opulence from the fruit here, with a touch of leaf, all well balanced with oak, and joined by a savoury black olive tone.' Harry Crowther, Grape Times UK. 'Lean, light Malbec with some tannins and raspberry fruit, leading to some liquorice on the finish.' Jade Koch, team leader.

£6.59 Hatch Mansfield

Boutinot , Pablo y Walter, Malbec 2019, Mendoza, Argentina

Bronze medal winner

'Easy to drink, with some plum and cherry notes, and good concentration, with a peppery note, making this good with a steak and peppercorn sauce.' Arturo Scamardella, The Ritz London. 'A fresh, pleasant nose of red and black cherries with good, soft tannins and a touch of herbs.' Guillaume Mahaut, ETM Group.

£7.50 Boutinot

Trapiche, Terroir Series, Finca Ambrosia, Malbec 2015, Mendoza, Argentina

Bronze medal winner

'An incredibly bold wine with lots of character, opening with aromas of blackcurrant and plums, joined by liquorice, cinnamon and other spices on the greatly structured palate, with elegant, velvety tannins. Absolutely recommended for Argentinian or Brazilian restaurants - anywhere that has fatty meats on the menu.' Cinthia Lozano, The Winery Honduras.

£23.49 Enotria&Coe

Trapiche, Perfiles, Textura Fina, Malbec 2017, Mendoza, Argentina

Bronze medal winner

'Nice dark fruit and elegant spice on the nose, with a smooth palate that has balanced alcohol and some refreshing spice on the palate.' Lionel Periner, team leader. 'Juicy and intense, with some spicy, ripe blackberry fruit.' Vivienne Franks, Aspects of Wine. 'Earthy, rich and ripe. Well-made.' Nigel Lister, St. Swithins Wine Shippers.

£13.56 Enotria&Coe

Humberto Canale, Selección de Familia, Malbec 2016, Patagonia, Argentina

Bronze medal winner

'Earthy on the nose and palate, with grainy tannin structure alongside black fruits and a touch of oak smoke and vanilla, all well integrated, and leading to a finish that's creamy and on the fruity side.' Marco Marcuzzo, Zuma Rome. 'With its elegant nose, firm tannins and plenty of fruit, I'd pair this with a medium-spicy steak tartare.' Immacolata Cannavo, Hakkasan Mayfair.

£16.42 Enotria&Coe

Casarena, Lauren's Vineyard, Agrelo Malbec 2011, Luján de Cuyo, Mendoza, Argentina

Commended medal winner

El Enemigo, Malbec 2015, Mendoza, Argentina

Commended medal winner

£15.15 Bibendum

Alpasión, WhatAboutMe?, Malbec 2018, Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina

Commended medal winner

£8.02 Matthew Clark

Domaine Bousquet, Grand Reserve, Malbec 2017, Mendoza, Argentina

Commended medal winner

Doña Paula, Estate, Malbec 2018, Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina

Commended medal winner

Doña Paula, Selección de Bodega, Malbec 2016, Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina

Commended medal winner

Argento, Single Vineyard, Organic Malbec 2018, Mendoza , Argentina

Commended medal winner

£11.47 Bibendum

Tilia, Malbec 2018, Mendoza, Argentina

Commended medal winner

£8.57 Bibendum

Argento, Seleccion, Malbec 2018, Mendoza, Argentina

Commended medal winner

£8.82 Bibendum

Tomero, Reserva, Malbec 2017, Mendoza, Argentina

Commended medal winner

£15.15 Bibendum

Zuccardi, Los Olivos, Malbec 2018, Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina

Commended medal winner

Boutinot , Turno de Noche, Malbec 2019, Mendoza, Argentina

Commended medal winner

£7.35 Boutinot

El Esteco, Don David, Malbec 2018, Salta, Argentina

Commended medal winner

£9.52 Enotria&Coe

Pannunzio, Las Piedras, Malbec 2018, Mendoza, Argentina

Commended medal winner

£9.72 Top Selection

Benegas, Quid Pro Quo, Malbec 2019, Mendoza, Argentina

Commended medal winner

Salentein, Capilla de Barro, Malbec 2019, Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina

Commended medal winner

 

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