WWBG: Malbecs Offer High-End Wine on a Budget

Editor’s Note: This new weekly sponsored column is written by the staff of Georgetown Square Wine and Beer (10400 Old Georgetown Road).

Since our economy’s latest recession in 2008, there hasn’t been a hotter wine varietal than Malbec. Sales have soared in the U.S. and some Malbec-producing regions have increased their production by almost 50%. Why?

Value and quality. Not many wines can give you high-end quality at an affordable price. Malbecs under $20 consistently score 90 points or higher in many of the top wine publications. Malbecs also give you the perfect balance between a Cabernet Sauvignon and a Merlot: not too dry with a perfectly soft, smooth, sure-to-please taste.

Here are a few of my favorite Malbecs from three countries that offer different styles: Argentina, California, and France

Cedre Heritage Malbec, Cahors, France

Malbec was one of the original grapes found in Bordeaux. But due to a frost that killed 75% of the crop, the region of Cahors, situated in southwest France, became the stronghold of French Malbec. This particular one from Cahors offers a full body with ample tannins for a great price. Cahors offer a much bolder style of Malbec than most people are used to. I would definitely recommend pairing with hearty meat and some good, fragrant French cheeses.

Andeluna 1300 Malbec, Ucco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina

Malbec put Argentina on the world wine map. Now Argentina owns the Malbec market and there’s a reason: Argentinian Malbecs are awesome. After trailing Chile in wine exports for years, Argentinian wineries led by Nicholas Catena began focusing on quality, not quantity. After this shift from making jug wine to premium wines for export, Argentina has taken advantage of its perfect climate and high-altitude terrain for Malbec growing. This Andeluna is a perfect example of a quality 90-point (Wine Enthusiast) wine for around $15. Andeluna is a terrific plush, smooth wine. It’s the perfect balance of quality without being overpowered with tannins – something typical of many Argentinian Malbecs.

Chancewater Malbec, Lake County, California

When I was first asked if I would like to sample a Malbec from California, I was very skeptical. Malbec grapes from California were mostly used to make red blends such as Meritage, and were not known for great quality. My palate could not have been more surprised when I first tasted this Californian Malbec. Its style is not as fruit-forward as the Malbec from Argentina, nor as dry and full of tannins as the Cahors, but a perfect balance between both regions. I can honestly say the smooth, rich finish reminds me of a high-end Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, but only costs around $20.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of BethesdaNow.com.

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