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Best Malbec

Historically used as a blending grape in Bordeaux, France, Malbec has gained popularity in recent years as its own varietal. Since not much Malbec is grown in France or other Old World countries, it's relatively rare to find 100 percent Malbec, or even a primarily Malbec blend coming from this part of the world. New World wine growers, especially those in Argentina, have taken it upon themselves to make world class wines that allow the bold flavor of this grape to shine.

Malbec requires warm, dry conditions to thrive. It's susceptible to frost and mildew and tends to develop problems when grown in cool, moist climates. Because of this, production is limited to hot, sunny hillsides in some of the world's warmer appellations.

Though many winemakers in Northern California and Australia now produce Malbec, these wines are not the most popular and distribution is largely limited to local wine shops. Major wine distributors, including online stores and large retail chains, primarily carry Argentinian Malbec.

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Catena Zapata Nicasia Malbec

Malbec may be new to the world market, but it isn't new to Argentina. Catena Winery has been producing Malbec for around a century and today's generation of winemakers have learned how to make this wine shine. Catena Zapata Nicasia is our absolute favorite Malbec. It's very dark in color, with red and violet hues that bring to mind the dark fruit flavors and aromas that Malbec is known for. The nose of this wine has spice, oak, black cherry, and black raspberry. The palate shows off even more dark fruit, with blackberry jam and plum complemented by notes of black licorice, baker's chocolate, violet, and spice cake. This truly is a remarkable wine, and one that's perfectly ready to enjoy right now, though it will also hold for another 15 years.

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Luca Malbec

A wine so dark it could be used as ink, Luca Malbec is a powerful wine with lots of dark flavors and aromas. It has rich aromas of black cherry, cola, cocoa, and spice, and a bold, complex flavor profile that backs up the big berry flavor with espresso, mineral, and balsamic vinegar. The finish is long and well-structured, with an acidic bite at the end that helps this wine finish nice and clean. It's spent 16 months aging in French oak, 60% of which is new, which gives lots of bright woody notes to the wine. In order to get the most out of this wine, you'll want to pair it with a meal that offers equal complexity. Wild game, lamb, or a hearty steak are excellent choices.

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Chateau Haute Serre

Chateau Haute Serre is an easy choice when it comes to high end Malbec. This wine has violet, licorice, and oak on the nose, aromas provide the perfect back up to the big, dark fruit aroma that this grape is known for. The palate is equally well-balanced and also quite complex, with lots of fruit and an edginess coming from the tannins. Though it is quite tannic, the tannins don't overpower the fruitiness, instead providing support and structure and making this wine a great choice to pair with rich foods such as foie gras, or flavorful meats such as goat. In order to get the most out of this vintage, you'll want to wait five years so that the flavors have a chance to evolve.

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Norton Reserva Malbec

Made of 100 percent Malbec, Norton Reserva is one of our Best Picks. It's aged for one full year in French oak, and then held in the bottle at the winery for another 9 months before release, ensuring that by the time the wine is available to aficionados, it's at its best. This is a bold wine with big fruit flavors and subtle notes of mesquite and mocha. Though it's full bodied, unlike many Malbecs, this one isn't overly tannic or harsh, thanks in part to a natural malolactic fermentation that leaves behind a silky smooth mouthfeel. It's ready to drink now, but will still be excellent for another several years.

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Kaiken Ultra Malbec

A bright red Malbec that stands apart from the inky black competition, Kaiken Ultra Malbec is one of our favorites. This wine is full-bodied, with soft tannins that give it plenty of body without any edginess or harshness. The flavors in this wine center around black fruits, with vanilla and toast playing back up. The aroma has lots of red and black berry flavors, as well as a hint of earthy tobacco. Scoring in the 90s with professional wine critics, this is a well-regarded wine and considered to be one of Kaiken's best.

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Catena Malbec

Known for making some of the best Malbec around, Catena makes an excellent, affordable Malbec for those who don't want to spend a hundred dollars a bottle. This winery's Malbec is a jammy wine with big fruit flavors and aromas. The nose has big blackberry aromas, while the palate highlights softer raspberry and blueberry flavors. In addition to this wine's fruity qualities, it also has notes of lavender and violet, and hints of mocha and vanilla on the nose, along with leather and cinnamon on the palate. The tannins are big enough to support the complexity of the wine, and the finish long and acidic, with notes of minerality.

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