Wine Guy: Malbecs have a special place in the heart of “wine”

The Wine Guy offers three Malbecs for your cellar

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This year, World Malbec Day officially lands on Sunday, April 17. The occasion serves to remind me of the special place Malbec holds in my “wine” heart.

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Sure, classic wine lovers have their Burgundy and Bordeaux, but as someone who got into wine in the early 2000s – and at the time on a strict wine budget – the robust Malbecs from Argentina offered real value to red wine.

Such was the allure Malbec brought to me on my first wine pilgrimage, a backpacking trip through Argentina through the vineyards surrounding Mendoza and the wine bars of Buenos Aires.

Viña Cobos 2020 Felino Malbec, Argentina ($20.99 on sale until April 30, #334789)

Mendoza was – and remains – the heart of Argentinian Malbec. According to Wines of Argentina, 85% of Malbec vineyards are located in the province of Mendoza. It was here in the early 2000s that my love for Malbec was consummated, while staying in an inn and taking public buses to visit suburban vineyards and cellars, returning to cook a meal in the kitchen common of the inn and tasting a bottle bought at the adventures of the day. A bottle like Felino, which wants to be shared with its opulent black fruit, its robust and audacious style. This Malbec is polished and ready to drink, but finishes with a hint of grain and spice.

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At the end of the line : B+, wine steak

Catena La Marchigiana 2020 Malbec Vino Natural Ancestral, Argentina ($39.99, available at select private wine shops)

A great thing about Malbec is that it can swing both simple and crowd-pleasing, as well as elegant and complex. The first time I met the latter was in Buenos Aires in an elegant wine bar. The bartender introduced himself as Hugo – “…you know, like the boss” – and proceeded to pour an incredibly elegant Malbec. If I came back today, I imagine I’d be served a glass of La Marchigiana Malbec, a new offering from the venerable Catena family that pays homage to traditional clay pot aging dating back to the 16th century – in vessels called tinajas — and a hands-off winemaking approach with no added sulphites.

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At the end of the line : A-, Soft, balanced and engaging

Finca Sophenia Altosur 2020 Red Blend, Argentina ($16.99 on sale until April 30, #397808)

It’s also important to note that Malbec can be a team player. Indeed, historically, Malbec has been one of the five main grape varieties of French red Bordeaux. Altosur, which translates to “raised in the south” brings together Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah (composition 50/40/10) in a rich red infused with dark fruits. Notes of plum and sweet vanilla intro a soft entry followed by a fairly grassy and grainy mid palate, with evident tannins on a lingering fresh toasty finish. Estate-grown and bottled—the “high” literally refers to the vineyards at 4,000 feet above sea level—it’s a great grill partner, whether burgers or rib eye are on the menu.

At the end of the line : B+, Food and crowd friendly

The Swirl: California Wine Experience

California wines are on tour again, landing in Vancouver on Monday, April 25 for the return of the California Wine Experience. Taking place from 7-9:30 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency (655 Burrard Street, Vancouver), this educational and immersive comprehensive tasting showcases more than 400 California wines grouped by region and appellation. Tickets for the 2 1/2 hour guided experience are $159.99 per person (all inclusive), and full details are at

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