Malbec: The Grape That France Forgot

By Robert Parker

The Malbec grape was largely a failure in France because vintners could never coax a rich wine from it. But malbec flourishes in Mendoza, a region of Argentina adjacent to the Andes. Characterized by a spicy, dark fruit, these malbec wines can be complex, intense, and worthy of aging. In fact, they can compete with Bordeaux several times the price. Here are some favorites.

Maipe 2006 Malbec Mendoza

89 points.

This wine has a dense ruby/purple color and an enticing nose of plum, black currant, blueberry, fig, and chocolate. It is delicious, fruit-driven, and medium-bodied, with silky tannins and a long, heady finish. It should drink nicely for three to four years. $10

Altos Las Hormigas 2005 Malbec

88 points. There's lots of chocolate, smoke, and blackberry jam in the nose. On the palate, it's medium- to full-bodied and silky-soft, with some espresso roast notes. Enjoy it in its first three to four years of life. $12

Bodega Catena 2004 Zapata Malbec Alamos

88 points. A delicious floral, blueberry, and blackberry nose with some cherries is followed by a velvety-textured, opulent wine with light tannin, low acidity, and plenty of plump fruit. Drink it soon. $12

La Posta 2005 Malbec Angel Paulucci Vineyard

89 points.

Aromas of white chocolate, black raspberries, and blackberries are found in this medium-bodied wine. It should last another five to six years. $16

Bodega Norton 2004 Malbec Lujan de Cuyo Reserva

90 points.

This brilliant value has wonderful black and red fruits intermixed with hints of violet, licorice, smoke, and earth. The wine is medium-bodied, soft, and delicious for drinking over the next four to five years. $18

Luca 2004 Malbec

90 points. Dense black/purple-colored and bursting with black fruits and spices, this medium-bodied wine has a juicy, succulent mouthfeel and plenty of richness. It is a seamlessly constructed wine that you should be able to enjoy for the next five to seven years. $35

Yacochuya 2004 Malbec

95 points.

Made from a vineyard located 6,700 feet above sea level, this wine has a big, juicy, corpulent style with enormous amounts of flavor and richness. It's the perfect grilled-meat sort of wine that just sings, and it should age beautifully for 10 to 15 or more years. $55

Achaval-Ferrer 2003 Malbec Mendoza Finca Altamira

95 points.

Inky black/purple in color, with notes of spring flowers, lead pencil shavings, white chocolate, blackberry, blueberry, and coffee, this wine is full-bodied, has fabulous purity and length, and should age nicely for another 10 to 15 years. $85

Wines rated from 96-100 are extraordinary; 90-95, excellent; 80-89, above average to very good.

Robert Parker is the world's most influential wine critic. Visit www.eRobertParker.com to see tens of thousands of tasting notes, buy his books, or subscribe to his newsletter, The Wine Advocate.

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