The 11 Best Malbecs to Drink in 2023 (2023)

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If grape varieties were Hollywood actors, malbec is the character actor you recognize from other movies, but forgot which ones and, gosh, you don’t remember his name, but he sure is good, isn’t he? Although malbec originated in France, it’s more likely to be associated with Argentina, the country that produces the lion’s share of the world’s malbec and is credited with its resurging popularity.

Malbec is highly regarded as a value grape with a dark fruit flavor palate that can make a starring or supporting role in a delicious red blend.

Michel Rolland, of Argentina's Clos de los Siete, one of the world’s most well-known winemakers, says that the trick to producing the best quality malbec is that the grapes harvested have to be in the best condition possible, so that the wine is, “clear, pure, and precise,” as he puts it. “You look for [the] mouthfeel,” he further explains, “If you have sharp tannins early on [in the wine] it will get sharper later. If you have a weak mid-palate early on, it will stay weak.” Meaning, if you treat your pristine grapes correctly, they will deliver you a high-quality wine. Coincidently, he also makes our top choice, 2017 Clos de los Siete by Michel Rolland.

While Rolland is able to coax beauty out of malbec grapes in their Argentinian stronghold, California winemaker Mike Hendry has managed to do the same in Napa Valley. “It's a long process to get your grapevine to where you want it and it's important to have the same people doing the work year after year,“ he says of his Bordeaux varieties (including malbec) that were planted in 1995. Consistency in grape-growing is part and parcel with consistency in quality, and Hendry proves it in spades.

To properly give malbec the recognition it deserves, we’ve put together this list of malbec wines that should be on your radar. One sip and you’ll agree that they deserve a star on their own walk of fame. Here are the best bottles of malbec wines to get right now.

Best Overall: 2017 Clos de los Siete by Michel Rolland

The 11 Best Malbecs to Drink in 2023 (1)

  • Region: Argentina, Mendoza
  • ABV: 14.5%
  • Tasting Notes: Hearty Oak Spices, Chocolate, Vanilla, Dark Plum, Black Cherry

With the snowcapped Andes mountains looming in the near distance over their cherished vineyards, Clos de los Siete has established themselves as a towering figure in the world of Argentinian-produced malbec. Winemaker Michel Rolland, originally hailing from Bordeaux, is an internationally recognized winemaker and consultant who’s brought his expertise to vineyards in fourteen countries. Rolland’s capabilities, coupled with the Clos de los Siete pristine terroir, make this bottle a wine to celebrate.

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Best Under $30: Trapiche Medalla Malbec 2016

The 11 Best Malbecs to Drink in 2023 (3)

  • Region: Argentina, Mendoza
  • ABV: 14.25%
  • Tasting Notes: Oak, Intense Red Fruit, Vanilla, Black Tea, Chocolate, Tannins

This bottle from Trapiche hails from the Uco Valley in their high altitude vineyards just below the Andes Mountains. Founded in 1883, the vines rooted in Trapiche’s estate in front of the winery are farmed according to biodynamic standards. Given that they source grapes from over 200 producers and still turn out high-quality wines, it’s no wonder they deserve a spot on this list.

Best Under $20: Zolo Malbec

The 11 Best Malbecs to Drink in 2023 (5)

  • Region: Argentina, Mendoza
  • ABV: 13.6%
  • Tasting Notes: Fresh Blackberry and Black Raspberry, Violets, Spicy Finish

Argentina doesn’t just produce the best quality malbec wines, but they also produce some of the most affordable quality malbec wines. Patricia Ortiz, the grand doyenne of Argentinian wine, runs the show at Zolo where the sustainably-grown grapes get aged in French and American oak barrels and become tasty bottles of wine that are easily purchased 6-12 bottles at a clip!

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Best Splurge: Shafer TD-9 Red Blend 2017

The 11 Best Malbecs to Drink in 2023 (7)

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The 11 Best Malbecs to Drink in 2023 (8)

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  • Region: California, Napa Valley
  • ABV: 15.3 percent
  • Tasting Notes: Black Plum, Blackberry, Violets, Mocha, Floral, Tannins

You may be wondering how a red blend that’s majority merlot and only 22 percent malbec made it onto the Best Malbec list. Did this bottle cheat its way in? The answer is yes, but keep in mind that this cheater is also a winner—and the classic malbec character (those violets and mocha spices) shines through. It’s a great example of how malbec can play a solid supporting role, bolstering the taste and structure of another variety. Also, it’s produced from the famed Stags Leap District of Napa Valley, and given its pedigree, is offered at quite a reasonable price—the least splurgy splurge you’ll ever splurge on.

Best Argentina: Alamos Selección Malbec 2016

The 11 Best Malbecs to Drink in 2023 (9)

  • Region: Argentina, Mendoza
  • ABV: 13.5%
  • Tasting Notes: Cherry, Black Raspberry, Cedar, Vanilla Bean, Chocolate, Coffee, Tannins

This bottle matches the profile for everything that promises a top-shelf malbec wine: Argentinian-grown, from the Mendoza region, produced by the Alamos winery. Head winemaker Lucía Vaieretti calls the shots at this family-run estate that’s been working the land for over a hundred years, producing some of the country’s most notable malbec wines. This is one of them.

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Runner-up Best Argentina: Terrazas de los Andes Reserva Malbec 2017

The 11 Best Malbecs to Drink in 2023 (11)

  • Region: Argentina, Mendoza
  • ABV: 14%
  • Tasting Notes: Cedar, Black Cherry, Plum, Spice, Vanilla, Purple Florals, Tannins

Here we have another fine Mendoza malbec, this time from winery Terrazas de los Andes whose claim to fame is that it’s the first subsidiary winery outside of France to be owned by iconic Champagne powerhouse Moët & Chandon. You can see the Moët influence in the details of this wine where the stunning Andes Mountains affect the extreme, high-altitude grape-growing climate to deliver a wine befitting of their international caliber.

Best Value: Colomé Malbec Estate 2017

The 11 Best Malbecs to Drink in 2023 (13)

  • Region: Argentina, Salta
  • ABV: 14.9%
  • Tasting Notes: Blackberry, Blueberry, Tannins, Himalayan Pink Salt Finish

Another great Argentinian wine also produced at high-altitude vineyards off of the Andes, only this time from up in northwestern Salta. Salta’s wine region is known for having some of the highest altitudes exposing the wines to extreme conditions that eke out wine like no other—royally ripe, imbued with cool-climate acidity, and a flourish of minerality. This 2017 bottle from Colomé is an excellent example of why you should take every malbec with a pinch of Salta.

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Best California Malbec: Lieu Dit Malbec 2016

The 11 Best Malbecs to Drink in 2023 (15)

  • Region: California, Central Coast, Santa Ynez Valley
  • ABV: 13.8%
  • Tasting Notes: Cedar, Tobacco, Vanilla, Cherry, Blackberry, Tannins

Lieu Dit is a California operation, expertly run by friends Eric Railsback and Justin Willett, with a portfolio of wines heavily influenced by the varieties native to France—specifically the Loire Valley. And while they’re primarily focussed on their sauvignon blancs and cabernet francs, they also include in their line up this attractive, whole-clustered, unfiltered malbec. This is wow in a bottle, charged by grapes from Happy Canyon Vineyard in the Santa Ynez Valley that are 100% whole-cluster fermented! This is unlike any malbec you will have tried!

Best California Malbec Blend: Orin Swift Papillon Bordeaux Blend 2017

The 11 Best Malbecs to Drink in 2023 (17)

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The 11 Best Malbecs to Drink in 2023 (18)

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  • Region: California, Napa Valley
  • ABV: 15.3%
  • Tasting Notes: Oak, Vanilla, Chocolate, Dark Fruits, Pepper, Tannins

Sometimes malbec just tastes better when it’s blended with some of its friends. That’s the trick here with Orin Swift’s 2017 Papillon bottle, a blend of the Bordeaux usual suspects including cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and petit verdot. This is the kind of malbec that will color your teeth a lovely shade of purple, so, if you’re ever in a social setting, be sure to check yourself in the mirror before promoting that big, wonderful smile that lands you hundreds of likes with every Instagram post.

Best French: Crocus Le Calcifére Malbec de Cahors 2014

The 11 Best Malbecs to Drink in 2023 (19)

  • Region: France, Southwest France, Cahors
  • ABV: [not found]
  • Tasting Notes: Dark Berry, Cassis, Vanilla, Leather, Tannins

Even though Argentina steals the show when it comes to malbec production, sometimes you want a malbec that goes back to its roots—in France. Legendary winemaker Paul Hobbs (of Sonoma fame) partnered with fourth-generation Bertrand Gabriel Vigouroux, and together they’ve produced a monument to malbec wine, period. Hobbs, after all, is partly responsible for revitalizing Argentina’s winemaking culture and popularizing malbec and the Mendoza region. His pedigree and Vigouroux’s heritage combine in a winning effort that shows why French soil is primed for yielding world-class malbec.

Best Unoaked: Zuccardi Concreto Malbec 2019

The 11 Best Malbecs to Drink in 2023 (21)

  • Region: Argentina, Mendoza, Uco Valley
  • ABV: 13.5%
  • Tasting Notes: Blueberry, Blackberry, Plum, Tannins, Spicy

Love malbec? Hate oak? Look no further than this unoaked doozy from Zuccardi, now in its third generation of family-run winemaking. In the past few years, the folks at Zuccardi studied each of the terroir types in the Uco Valley to figure out ways to improve their wines. If this bottle is any indication, it tastes like they’ve upped their game. Pure Argentine terroir in the bottle, untainted by oak spices, but full of deliciously ripe fruit.

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Why Trust

Jonathan Cristaldi has written about wine and spirits for over a decade. He regularly tastes wines from around the globe, and personally tasted every wine in this roundup, except for the Shafer TD-9 2017, Crocus Le Calcifére, and Lieu Dit wine. Cristaldi was named a "Wine Prophet" by Time Out New York for his witty and often avant-garde approach to wine education.

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What is the best age to drink Malbec? ›

7–11 Years Aging Potential: Malbec wines with dark fruit flavors, notable acidity (“juiciness”), moderate tannin, and a chocolatey, oak-driven finish were usually recommended to be consumed within 7–11 years of the vintage.

How do I choose a good Malbec? ›

How To Choose A Good Malbec
  1. Origin – Ensure that the grapes used for the wine come from a single source and are pure Malbec.
  2. Region – There are a lot of great wines from a lot of regions. ...
  3. Colour – Malbec wine should be a deep dark red, with tones of violet. ...
  4. Alcohol content – Malbec will usually be around 14% alcohol.
Apr 6, 2022

Where is the best Malbec? ›

Argentina doesn't just produce the best quality malbec wines, but they also produce some of the most affordable quality malbec wines.

Does Malbec get better with age? ›

Red wine with higher tannin levels, such as Malbec, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah are most likely to improve with aging.

Is Malbec the healthiest red wine? ›

As an especially thick-skinned variety, Malbec claims higher antioxidant levels than other red wines especially in terms of resveratrol. This variety has two to four times the amount of anti-inflammatory, health boosting antioxidants than other popular red wines like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

Is red wine good for seniors? ›

Resveratrol, a compound found in red wine, is linked to a reduced risk of inflammation and blood clots. Drinking wine in moderation can help preserve your loved one's quality of life.

Is Costco Malbec good? ›

This one is very similar to the prior vintage, and we're going to rate it the same at 88 points. It's right there among the best vintages of this Malbec that we've tasted. Hard to beat at this price.

Do you drink Malbec warm or cold? ›

Pinot Noir is best served between 55-60°F, while Merlot, Syrah, Zinfandel, Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon are best served between 60-65°F. If you're storing your wine in a warm area, such as your kitchen, put a bottle of red in the fridge about 30 minutes before you're ready to serve it.

Is Pinot Noir better than Malbec? ›

Malbec is meatier, grittier, has more structure, whereas pinot noir is light, aromatic, and low in alcohol content. Malbec has a moderate to high tannin content whereas pinot noir is light on tannins, leading some to consider it a more accessible easy-drinking red.

How many years is Malbec wine good for? ›

If you're an aspiring wine collector, malbec is an excellent choice because many varieties can last in storage for up to 20 years. The more full-bodied and robust types, often from France, can easily remain stable for 20 years if you keep the bottles in an ideal temperature and storage area.

Is Malbec a beginner wine? ›

While malbec as a grape is often touted for tannins (the components in wine that add structure but dry out your mouth), I don't encounter strong tannins in many malbecs. This makes malbec a good red wine for beginners.

How long is Malbec good for? ›

Full-Bodied Red Wine

When sealed and stored in a cool, dark place or a fridge, red wines like Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Malbec can last for around four days. As a general rule, red wines with higher tannin and acidity tend to last longer once opened.

Can you drink a 20 year old bottle of red wine? ›

When stored properly and kept unopened, white wines can often outlive their recommended drinking window by 1-2 years, red wines by 2-3 years, and cooking wines by 3-5 years. Fine wine — as you may have guessed — can typically be consumed for decades.


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