Rave: Argentina’s Malbecs

Last week, we had the exciting pleasure of heading to a special wine tasting of Argentinian wines, to celebrate Malbec World Day. Naturally, we jumped on the opportunity to taste a plethora of delicious wines, all in the name of research for the fourth floor.

We were surprised to hear about all of the varieties of wine that come out of Argentina. They’re best known for their Malbec grapes, but have some amazing Torrontes, Chardonnay and even a tasty sparkling wine.

We’ll definitely be looking for this bottle of sparkling wine ($11.95) for our next soiree. 

A little history lesson: the Malbec grape was introduced to Argentina from the south of France about 160 years ago, and it immediately began to thrive in the dry, mountainous landscape. 

Grapes love dry, hot temperatures and the Andes mountains.

The grapes grew like crazy and are now found all over the country, making Argentina one of the world’s biggest producers of the varietal. Canadians are the second biggest consumers of Argentinian wines, just behind the U.S. Because of the varying altitudes of Argentina grapes are grown from below sea level to about 1,000 metres above Malbec grapes show quite different characteristics and flavours, depending on the region they’re from.

Malbec grapes in Mendoza, Argentina’s biggest growing region.

Back to the wine. We tried a whopping 18 varieties (there was a lot of spitting involved, so that we could make it back to the office in one piece), and most of them were delicious. Malbec wines from Argentina are rich, complex and have a pretty, deep red jewel hue. Some winemakers add a bit of another grape, like Cabernet Sauvignon, to create something uniquely Argentinian. Of the six whites we tried, the aforementioned sparkling, the Dominio del Plata ‘Crios’ Torrontes ($14.95) and the Trivento ‘Amado Sur’ (a blend of Torrontes, Viognier and Chardonnay; $15) were our favourites. Each wine was fruity, slightly floral and crisp, perfect for any upcoming summer event. 

Find these at your local LCBO.

There were many more reds to taste, and as the tasting went on it (ahem) became harder not to just love them all. But, of the 12 (!) we tasted, here were the ones we loved best. And yep, the list includes four Malbecs (they really are delicious). 

A lovely vista.

The Rutini Malbec ($21.95) is available only by private order, but we loved the slightly spicy flavour and smooth aftertaste of one of Argentina’s most-visited wineries. Another favourite was Bodega Benegas Malbec ($17.95), which is from a very small winery that grows grapes about 800 metres above sea level. The result is a lovely, smooth wine that’s slightly fruity with just the right amount of tannins (the stuff that makes your mouth pucker). 

We tried this wine from 2009, and recommend you hunt down a bottle, too.

We also loved the Kaiken Ultra Malbec ($19.95), which was made richer and deeper with the addition of Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, as well as the Dominio Del Plata Ben Marco Malbec ($20.95; seems like we’ll need to visit this winery the next time we’re in Argentina). 

Two delicious Malbecs.

Non-Malbec favourites were the Pinot Noir from Manos Negras ($14.95) and the limited edition Bonarda from Nieto Senetiner (about $25). The best part about this wine tasting? The fact that every wine we tried was $25 or less, making Argentina’s wines delicious AND affordable (this might be a dangerous combination).