The Malbec Masters 2017: results and analysis

David Round MW

“The tasting confirmed my view that part of Malbec’s success, certainly amongst the Argentinian examples, derives from its consistency of quality. So I wasn’t surprised to see that there were relatively few poor wines on show. What surprised me was the large number of really good wines – I can’t remember awarding quite so many medals in other Masters tastings. I was also struck by how many excellent wines there were in the £10-£20 price band and how close they were in quality to wines in higher price categories.

The best examples had freshness, with ripe, focused fruit, integrated oak and weren’t too alcoholic. As expected, Argentina dominated the tasting both in number and quality of wines submitted, with Mendoza, in particular Valle de Uco, catching my eye but there were also some stylish examples from San Juan’s Valle de Pedernal. There were some very fresh, crunchy-fruited wines from Chile, especially Bio Bio, Curico and Rapel. South-west France also performed well, but there were very few wines included and the style here is so different that they are probably better judged in a separate category.

The reasons that I marked down some less successful wines included jamminess, stewed prune character to the fruit, greenness, too much oak and dilution. One particular issue was divisive amongst tasters: some wines had a green / bell pepper / pyrazine character that some liked but I did not.

Finally, I was surprised to see quite a few wines made in a very aromatic, peppery, restrained northern Rhone Syrah style – certainly not classic, but I really liked most of them. It was also good to see an interesting example from Turkey.”

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