Global Malbec Masters 2019: the results in full

Judges’ comments

Patricia Stefanowicz MW

What a revelatory tasting! In the past I have sometimes treated Malbec as a wine for summer barbecues or gaucho-style steaks, but no longer. The quality of the wines we judged is remarkably high from inexpensive to extremely high-priced. There are very few wines that one would not drink a glass, or even two, albeit that one would like something stronger than water biscuits as an accompaniment; they really are, to use the much-maligned phrase, ‘food wines’.

In 2019, most of the wines are from South America with Argentina dominating the ‘harvest’ of medals, especially of top silvers and golds. Chilean wines can be good when properly ripe and we found a few more-than-respectable examples, showing good balance and concentration.

Most intriguing are a few wines from Australia; Malbec may have a proper future in that area. And a sample from Austria is delectable and shows potential for further development there also.

Lively acidity, well-controlled tannins and appropriate use of oak with high alcohol less evident are all attractive features in the wines judged. At the end, not too much palate-fatigue!

Other positive aspects of the tasting were the blends of Malbec and other varieties. Many of these blends were succulent and aromatic, showing how well Malbec can work with other grapes. In particular, adding extra dimension and filling the sometimes slightly hollow mid-palate make the wines somehow more complete.

At the stratospheric price levels, many of the wines are stunningly delicious: great fruit, appropriate oak accents, bright acidity and velvet-textured tannins-textured, layered, complex wines, worth every pound.

If there were minor disappointments… A few of the wines are quite reductive, which detracts from both aroma and palate. And, some of the wines seem a little hollow in the mid-palate. Sometimes oak can help, but too much oak appears to overwhelm more delicate, floral-accented styles. Oak is not a substitute for high quality ripe grapes.

In summation, a truly delightful judging day.

Michelle Cherutti-Kowal MW

The tasting slightly changed my perception of Malbec. There seemed to be some wines that expressed fresher fruit with more acidity and less apparent alcohol. In my experience, Malbec in the past was jammy with lots of oak and that trend seems to be changing for the better.

I felt that there were excellent wines in the expensive brackets – elegant, balanced wines with good structure and judicious use of oak.

I was a bit perplexed by the mid-price wines (£15-£20 and some over £20) – some wines were a bit over extracted and oaked, I can only assume they were trying to justify the price point. It was a tail of two halves – good value at the under £10 (and the brackets slightly over £10) and some fantastic wines over £20.

In general, Ii was surprised at the good quality of wines under £10. Seemed to be more emphasis on fresher fruit and less oak which allows the grape to shine through.