Wine Spectator columnist Matt Kramer recently spent three months living in Buenos Aires—sampling the best local wines, eating prodigious quantities of beef and enjoying what he considers to be the world’s greatest French fries (papas fritas). So it was only natural that, this year, he shared with the audience three of his favorite Malbecs from Argentina.
Kramer considers Argentine Malbecs to not only be the best representation of the grape in the world but also a great deal. “There is no greater value in red wine anywhere in the world today than Argentine Malbec,” he declared.
While his tone may have been light-hearted, as usual, the wines being poured were anything but. The three he chose represent a trend among Argentina’s best producers to try to take Malbec to another level, to go beyond affordable succulent reds to complex wines that will transform and improve over time.
Each wine had distinct personality. The Bodega Colomé Malbec Calchaquí Valley 2008 (91 points, $25), a blend sourced from old vineyards in a remote area at elevations starting at 7,500 feet, was chosen for its originality. The Viña Alicia Malbec Luján de Cuyo Brote Negro 2008 ($80), which showed great density and purity, originated from an old vineyard in one of the best zones of Mendoza, which contains a unique strain of Malbec vines with black stems; these individual wines were picked separately from the others. And Kramer considered the final wine, Achával-Ferrer Finca Bella Vista Mendoza 2008 (93, $120), also from Luján de Cuyo, to be the most elegant Malbec he had ever tasted.
“This is where Argentina can go,” Kramer concluded. “This is the vanguard.”