April 17 marks the next edition of Malbec World Day, the day that Wines of Argentina has deemed appropriate for wine enthusiasts around the world to celebrate the noble grape that has put its country on the map.
Malbec fans can get a head start on things by attending an early celebration at Marquis Wine Cellars (1034 Davie Street) next Saturday (April 8) between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m., when, after donating to the B.C. Hospitality Foundation for entry, attendees can sample eight different wines while noshing on complimentary empanadas.
For those wanting to do a little home celebration on the 17th, I have my own roster of eight Malbecs to recommend, with a guarantee of due diligence that went into these endorsements. You see, a couple of weeks back, the folks from Wines of Argentina kindly sent me a couple dozen Malbecs to taste through; I had my work cut out for me.
For this monumental yet enjoyable task, I decided to call in some reserves. I put out a call to a bunch of sommelier colleagues and had a decent response, considering that slogging through a couple dozen big red wines in my office early in the day on a Saturday may not have been everyone’s cup of tea—especially since most had worked the Friday night beforehand.
In attendance were Kristi Linneboe from L’Abattoir, Mark McNeil from Savio Volpe, Maude Renaud-Brisson from Chambar, David Stansfield of Earls Restaurants, and Jason Yamasaki of Joey Restaurants. We brown-bagged the bottles so we wouldn’t know brand or price, tasted them in flights of five, and then had a discussion after each round to reach a consensus on favourites. I hadn’t insisted we end up with a top eight, or any particular number—the wines presented on this page simply ended up here because all of them shared unanimous support.
And so, arranged by price, here are eight Malbecs perfect for Malbec World Day, or any day, as determined by a top flight of Vancouver sommeliers.
Finca Flichman Misterio Malbec 2016
($10.49, B.C. Liquor Stores)
An incredible bargain, this Malbec is quite approachable and lively, with plenty of blue fruit and a touch of pepper. It’s not overly complex, but at this price, it’s entirely crushable.
Cuma Organic Malbec 2016
($12.49, B.C. Liquor Stores)
Another steal of a wine, with bonus points for being organic. A touch earthy, with brambly forest-floor fruit and a hint of chocolate, it’s medium-bodied and will likely be good with barbecued anything.
Pascual Toso Malbec Limited Edition 2014
($17.99, B.C. Liquor Stores)
Stansfield was noting this is a pretty polished style of wine, with a lot more finesse than some may expect from the grape. Although there is, indeed, purple and blue berry fruit here, some savoury fresh herbs add a nice touch.
Finca Las Moras PAZ Malbec 2013
($17.99, B.C. Liquor Stores)
Textbook Argentine Malbec: black cherries and blackberries make up rich, concentrated fruit, rounded out with mocha notes and a hint of vanilla. Stained teeth after two sips.
Trivento Golden Reserve Malbec 2014
($21.99, B.C. Liquor Stores)
Another winner here. McNeil commented on how juicy and quaffable it is, with its waves of purple fruit. There’s also a nice peppery character that we all thought brought some added dimension.
Bodega Argento Organic reserva Malbec 2014
($21 to $26, private liquor stores)
At first, we all thought this wine was a little too light and lacked concentration. Then, after a few more tastes, Yamasaki had us all go back to our glasses, remarking that it’s not that it necessarily lacks concentration, it’s simply more of a conservative style. We were all glad he insisted on the wine being given a second chance, as we all came around to it. Stirred blueberries are at its centre, but as Renaud-Brisson pointed out, there is a pretty perfumed or floral character to it as well. Available at North Vancouver’s Everything Wine, among other private stores around town.
Luigi Bosca Malbec 2013
($23.49, B.C. Liquor Stores)
There was another Luigi Bosca wine in the lineup that sold for $5.50 more, but we all preferred the less inexpensive one. This Malbec has a good dose of zippy red fruit, sun-dried tomatoes, and a pinch of pepper on the finish. Vibrant and juicy, it’s an absolute pleasure to drink.
Zuccardi Q Malbec 2013
($25 to $30, private liquor stores)
We all absolutely adored this wine. The black, licorice-y fruit was good and chewy, Linneboe was dazzled by the good dose of minerality, and we all enjoyed the fact that although it is indeed a big wine, it manages to be bright and fresh sip after sip. Recently spotted at Marquis Wine Cellars.
For more on Malbec World Day, visit the Malbec World Day website.