Malbec 2017

Malbec - 2017

The Fifty Best Malbec Tasting of 2016


The Tasting:
The Fifty Best held a “blind” tasting of 20 recent release Malbecs with 17 members of our wine judging panel. Strict tasting rules were applied. The order of service was established beforehand by lottery. Each of the wines were poured into fresh wine glasses from new sealed bottles and served at room temperature. Only ice water and white peasant bread were available to cleanse the palate.

The judges wrote down their impressions of each wine on score sheets. The scoring was done on a 5-point system, with 5 as the best. Double-Gold, Gold and Silver medals are awarded based on a set range of final point scores received from the judges. There were no Bronze medals awarded for this tasting.

The tasting notes that follow are summaries of the judges’ opinions, with all replicated commentary eliminated. The countries of origin are identified for each brand. Prices indicated do not include tax.


The Angel Oak
2011 Celestial Malbec

(Argentina) $70

Grapes for this 100% Malbec were fermented in new French oak barrels, then aged in other new French oak barrels for 23 months before bottling.

Aroma: Cherry, blueberry, blackberry, berries, currant, stewed plums, kirschwasser, flowery, grassy, dry grasses, licorice, baking spices, chilies, spicy, pepper, earthy, vanilla, leather, smoky, oak, woody.
Palate: Deep berry, raspberry, rich blueberry, cherry, black cherry juice, black cherry with dry spice, pomegranate, juicy, orange zest, tangy woody citrus, violets, smoke, leather, tannic, good acidity.
Finish: Grapefruit, cocoa powder, crushed black pepper, spicy, acidic, soft, smooth, feels great in mouth, balanced, nice, well balanced.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal

The Angel Oak Celestial Malbec


Estate Malbec 2013

(Argentina) $20

Grapes for this 100% Malbec wine hailed from three high altitude vineyards in the Upper Calchaqui Valley in Argentina’s Salta Region. Following fermentation, the wine was aged in French oak barrels (20% new, 80% used) for 15 months prior to bottling.

Aroma: Cherry, black currant, strawberries, macerated berries, plum, black plum, stewed plums, sweet flowers, vanilla, mocha, Coke, earthy, clay, smoke, nice magenta.
Palate: Cherry, black cherry, strawberry apple, orange peel, carrot, deep root vegetables, greens, dill, slight herbaceous, vanilla, powdery, oak, woody, earthy, tobacco, tangy, bold tannins.
Finish: Plum, spice, peppery, woody, tangy, minerality, soft, complex, elegant, a delight.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal

Colomé Estate Malbec

Steele Wines
2014 Writer's Block Lake County Malbec

(Kelseyville, California) $17

For this wine, grapes from the Red Hills Appellation of Lake County were fermented at cool temperatures using natural yeasts, after which the wine was aged in equal parts of French, American and Hungarian oak for 12 months prior to bottling.

Aroma: Cherry, cherry compote, blackberry, pomegranate, floral, grassy, light vanilla, milk chocolate, café-au-lait, cola, cashews, almonds, sandalwood, sweet oak, spicy, pepper, tannins, smoky, traditional style.
Palate: Cherry, dark cherry, black cherry, raspberry, tutti-frutti, chocolate cake, chocolate milk, sweet spice, clove, pepper, tangy, great balance and body, finesse.
Finish: Black cherry, apple, fruity, prune, black pepper, dry wood, oak, smooth, very intense, interesting, amazing.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal

Steele Wines Writer's Block Lake County Malbec

2013 Limited Release Malbec

(Argentina) $22

Hand-picked grapes from Mendoza’s cool Uco Valley were used to make this wine. Following fermentation, the wine was aged for 22 months in French oak (20% new) prior to bottling (without fining or filtration).

Aroma: Mixed berries, blueberry, strawberry, blackberry, black cherry, cherry, cranberry, cassis, pomegranate, orange peel, flowery, lavender, summer, grassy, cedar, leather, red slate, earth, faint smoke.
Palate: Juicy berries, blueberry, black cherry, cherry, currant, pears, sweet plums, citrus, vanilla, chocolate, cocoa, tobacco, spice, pepper, rich oak, dry wood, some tartness, acidic, screams for rare meat, complex fruit, fruit forward.
Finish: Raspberry, lemon peel, bitter citrus, vegetal, spice, dry wood, smooth, well rounded.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal

Jed Limited Release Malbec


2013 Broquel Malbec

(Argentina) $14

For this wine, hand-harvested grapes (100% Malbec) from Uco Valley were fermented over 20 days in concrete and stainless steel vats, after which the wine was aged for 15 months in French oak barrels.

Aroma: Raspberry, strawberry, blueberry, blackberry, black cherry, cherry, plum, canned peaches, fresh flowers, herbaceous, balsamic, sage, forest floor, fragrant woods, musky, chocolate, smoke, rainy.
Palate: Blackberry, raspberry, blueberry, black cherry, cherry, black plum, luscious plums, rhubarb, grapefruit, tangy, light pepper, mineral, chocolate, earth, smoky.
Finish: Fruit driven, violet, tobacco, spice, white pepper, mineral, kiss of oak, very 80s, balanced, smooth, soft, velvety.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Trapiche Broquel Malbec

Château Lagrezette
2011 Malbec

(Cahors, France) $30

This wine was made from a blend of Malbec (87%), Merlot (12%) and Tannat (1%) from 20-30 year-old vines. Following fermentation of separate lots, the wine was aged for 18-20 months in new oak and “second-pass” barriques, then lightly filtered and bottled.

Aroma: Dark cherry, raspberry, plum, café-au-lait, mineral, black pepper, wood, soil, earthy.
Palate: Cherry, raspberry, berries, cassis, currants, plum, dark fruit, oak, wood.
Finish: Mint, flavorful, rich, smooth, layered.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Château Lagrezette Malbec

Homage Malbec 2010

(Argentina) $26

This 100% Malbec was produced by slow, cool fermentation of hand-harvested grapes grown on 85-year-old vines in Cruz de Piedra, Maipu.

Aroma: Raspberry, black cherry, cherry, zesty plum, gooseberry, sweet currants, ripe fruit, prunes, pungent lemon, vanilla, floral, slight dill, eucalyptus, spicy, black pepper, earth, oak barnyard.
Palate: Dark berries, tart blackberry, plum, cherry, kiwi, prune, chocolate, spice, black pepper, peppery, meaty, dry wood, smoke, medium tartness, firm tannins, would complement a steak.
Finish: Cherry, plum, hints of stone fruit, macerated berries and peaches, white pepper, soft, dry wood, chewy tannins, traditional style, well balanced, well integrated, nice, friendly.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

CarinaE Homage Malbec

2015 Malbec

(Argentina) $13

Made from 100% Malbec grapes, this wine was fermented in temperature-controlled steel vats over 10 days, with 10% of the wine aged in American oak for 3 months prior to bottling.

Aroma: Brambly berries, teaberry, cranberry, iron cherry, red currant, pomegranate, dates, raisins, chocolate, sage, nutmeg, floral, forest floor, smoky, rich.
Palate: Cherry, black cherry, cherry vanilla, dark plum, dark berry, blackberry, old vine fruit, raisin, spice, black pepper, licorice, toast, dry sherry, smoke, earthy.
Finish: Cherry, strawberry, plum, raisin, fruity, herbal, raw vegetable, mineral, smooth, soft.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Maipe Malbec

Bodega Reserva 2012

(Argentina) $19

This 100% Malbec was produced from grapes grown in the Maipu Region of Mendoza. Following traditional fermentation, the wine was aged in oak barriques for 10 months prior to bottling and aged in the bottle for 6 more months prior to release.

Aroma: Blackberry, sweet raspberry, blueberry, cherry, sweet flowers, herbs, cedar, coffee, mocha, leather, earthy, wet leaves, smoky.
Palate: Ripe dark berries, blueberry, berry, cherry, black cherry, sweet plum, sour apple, oaky, cedar, woody, earthy, smoky, acidic, some tartness.
Finish: Blueberry, berries and cream, dusty, bright acid, complex, smooth, well balanced, perfectly balanced, very nice.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

MEVI Bodega Reserva Malbec

Prayer Rock Vineyard 2013 Malbec

(Umpqua Valley, Oregon) $31

Hand-harvested grapes for this 100% Malbec were from Prayer Rock Vineyard, noted for south facing slopes, warm summer days and cool evenings. Following fermentation, using various strains of yeast, the wine was aged for 10 months in French and American oak before bottling.

Aroma: Blackberry, blueberry, raspberry, berry, red plum, cherry, black currants, white peach, unripe stone fruit, light tomato, brown sugar, chocolate, cocoa, root beer, sweet flowers, white pepper, sage, chalk.
Palate: Strawberry, blueberry, complex plum, light plum, dry cherry, bubblegum, guava-cheese danish, honey, herbs, flat cap mushrooms, mineral, straightforward.
Finish: Mushrooms, herbal, chalk, complex, pleasant.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Reustle Prayer Rock Vineyard Malbec

Autentico Malbec 2014

(Argentina) $22

This wine was produced from 100% Malbec grapes grown on 90-year-old vines at a high altitude (7,545 feet above sea level) in the Upper Calchaqui Valley of Argentina’s Salta Region. Following fermentation (using indigenous yeast) and aging, the wine was bottled without filtration.

Aroma: Raspberry, blueberry, black cherry, cherry, plum, plum wine, grapes, cherry blossom, kirschwasser, soft flowers, slightly herbal, spice, nutmeg, rosemary, leather, wet clay, faded earth, oak smokiness.
Palate: Black plum, juicy plum, cherry, blueberry, sweet berries, pear, cherry lime rickey, chicory, sweet tobacco, traditional in style.
Finish: Ripe strawberry, black cherry, bubble gum, flax, spice, tart, smooth.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Colomé Autentico Malbec

Malbec 2014

(Argentina) $40

For this wine, 100% Malbec grapes from 9-year-old vines were primarily fermented in stainless steel tanks (80%), with 20% fermented in closed French oak barrels. The wine was then aged for 12 months in new French oak barrels.

Aroma: Blackberry, raspberry, cherry, plum, soft currants, blueberry, violets, olives, black pepper, cola, chocolate, milk chocolate, leather, tobacco, earthy, savory.
Palate: Raspberry, blueberry, black cherry, cherry, slightly tart plum, pears, Kool-Aid, sage, oak, plantain, black pepper, wood barrel, tobacco, earthy, low aromatics, firm tannins, soft, tangy.
Finish: Ripe strawberry, blueberry, black currant, spice, oaky, dusty, rich, smooth, soft, clean.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Ayni Malbec

2012 Malbec

(Argentina) $14

This 100% Malbec was produced from grapes grown in Mendoza’s Uco Valley – noted for high altitude and cool temperatures. Following fermentation, the wine was aged for 10 months in used French oak before bottling.

Aroma: Blackberry, blueberry, cherry, sweet currants, dark plum, date,. grapes, hibiscus, violet, faint baking spice, cinnamon, almond, horchata, chocolate, café-au-lait, cola, olive, tobacco, earth, musky, smoke, oak.
Palate: Sweet plum, blueberry, brambly berries, cherry, currants, blood orange, pear, light prune, dates, vanilla, chocolate, dill, spice, pepper, smoke, dry wood, mineral, earthy, oak, tangy.
Finish: Cherry, lemon zest, citrus, olive, spice, white pepper, mineral, smoky, fresh, smooth, soft, tangy, impactful.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Jed Malbec

Château de Haute-Serre
Cuvée Géron Dadine de Haute-Serre 2011

(Cahors, France) $49

Made from grapes grown at an altitude of almost 1,000 feet above sea level, this wine was slowly fermented under temperature controlled conditions, followed by almost 18 months of aging in oak barriques.

Aroma: Blackberry, raspberry, cherry, coconut, sweet vanilla, cola, berry bushes, dry ruby red, flowers, green bell pepper, olive, cinnamon, bark, oak, tobacco, leather, earthy, tangy, bourbonesque.
Palate: Raspberry, blueberry, blackberry, berries, cherry, apple, kiwi, juicy, vanilla, olive, pepper, spice, nutmeg, cocoa, woody, leather, mineral, some intensity.
Finish: Cherry, black currant, kiwi, bitter sweet, sweet peppers, pepper, dry wood, mineral, cottony, nice, pleasant.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Château de Haute-Serre Cuvée Géron Dadine de Haute-Serre

Young Inglewood
Estate Malbec 2013

(St. Helena, Napa Valley) $80

Grapes for this 100% Malbec were hand harvested in the cool, early morning hours. Following fermentation in open-top vessels, the wine was aged for 16 months in French oak and bottled unfined and unfiltered.

Aroma: Raspberry, cherry, black cherry, black plums, rhubarb, coconut, butter, spring flowers, dandelions, floral, sweet spice, baking spice, woody, oak.
Palate: Blackberry, brightly sweet raspberry, blueberry, brambly berries, sweet berries, cherry, plum, lemon drops, perfume, toasted oak, woody, tree bark, moderate intensity, tannic, soft, tangy, flavorful.
Finish: Violets, fruit forward, cinnamon, coffee, oak, woody, earthy, tart, fresh, light, sits well in mouth, nice, very soft.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Young Inglewood Estate Malbec

2014 Oak Cask Malbec

(Argentina) $10

This wine was produced from hand harvested grapes (100% Malbec) grown in alluvial soils. Following maceration and fermentation over 25 days, the wine was aged for 9 months in French and American oak barrels.

Aroma: Cherry, black cherry, raspberry, boysenberry, plum, flowers, cucumber, fresh vegetables, dill, white pepper, café-au-lait, smoke.
Palate: Blackberry, raspberry, blueberry, cherry, cranberry, plum, l pear, emon zest, vanilla, woody, soft, pleasant.
Finish: Cherry, prune, chili, well balanced, round, soft, smooth, mellow, elegant.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Trapiche Oak Cask Malbec


2014 Malbec, Remolinos Vineyard

(Argentina) $17

This wine was fashioned from hand-picked grapes grown in a vineyard noted for sandy, clay loams over gravel. Following temperature-controlled fermentation over 10 days in small stainless steel tanks, the wine was aged for 14 months, primarily in French oak barrels (90%), with the remaining 10% aged in the stainless steel fermentation tanks.

Aroma: Cherry, black cherry, blackberry, ripe plum, candied plums, blood orange, flowery, mocha, leather, black wet leaves, smoke, wood fire, earthy, oak.
Palate: Cherry, black cherry, plum, blackberry, raspberry, wild strawberry, apple, pear, agave, olive, cilantro, spice, woody.
Finish: Raspberry, apricot, candied, spice, cinnamon, smoky, leather, woody, smooth, balanced, big, so different, a very exciting wine.

Silver Medal
Silver medal

Decero Malbec

Estate Selection Malbec 2014

(Argentina) $27

Grapes for this 100% Malbec were primarily from Agrelo Vineyard (80%) that is noted for clay soil, with the remainder (20%) from Altamira Vineyard. Following fermentation, the wine was aged in new and one-year-old French oak barrels for 18 months prior to bottling.

Aroma: Cherry, tart cherry, raspberry, black currant, blueberry dust, ruby red grapefruit, flowery, violets, cocoa, pepper, dusty leaves, petrichor, earth, wet clay, leather, oak.
Palate: Blackberry, blueberry, earthy raspberry, cherry, plum, plum jam, orange rind, light citrus, vanilla, clove, light spice, black pepper, white pepper, leather, tart, tangy, tannic.
Finish: Black cherry, stewed fruit, lemon zest, tobacco, hot peppers, woody, wood barrel, smooth.

Silver Medal
Silver medal

Chakana Estate Selection Malbec


Zonte’s Footstep
2014 Violet Beauregard Malbec

(Langhorne Creek, Australia) $13

Grapes for this wine hailed from two blocks in a single vineyard located in the heart of Langhorne Creek. Following fermentation in stainless steel vats and open fermenters, the wine was aged for 13 months in new and well-seasoned “hogsheads” (large vats – each with a capacity of 63 gallons).

Aroma: Cherry, tart cherry, black cherry, fresh currants, blueberry, blackberry, dark fruit, floral, violets, grassy, tomato vine, allspice, licorice, slate, cigar smoke.
Palate: Cherry, black cherry, blackberry, raspberry, cassis, unripe strawberry, gentle blueberry, black plum, citrus, olives, pepper, pines, tangy, medium acidity, youthful.
Finish: Pomegranate, lightly spicy, a bit tart, tannic, smooth.

Silver Medal
Silver medal

Zonte’s Footstep Violet Beauregard Malbec


Château Chevaliers Lagrezette
2011 Malbec

(Cahors, France) $22

This wine was produced from hand-picked grapes (88% Malbec, 12% Merlot) grown on 15 year-old vines in the Caillac Vineyard, located in the Lot River terroir. Following fermentation, the wine was aged in a combination of new and used barrels for 14 months prior to bottling.

Aroma: Blackberry, berries, cassis, plum, marmalade, violet, green pepper, cocoa powder, smoky, flint.
Palate: Blackberry, blueberry, plum, currant, cocoa, vanilla, herbaceous, green pepper, spicy, oak, old leather, flavorful.
Finish: Spicy, flavorful, pleasant.

Silver Medal
Silver medal


Château Chevaliers Lagrezette Malbec





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