This was only our third time comparing bottles of Malbec from Argentina (the last time was in March 2010), which is a shame, because these are largely well-made, delicious values that deliver lots of flavor for modest prices.
While our first-place finisher was the near unanimous top vote getter, the rest all received votes, with two bottles coming in tied for second place, and the third-place wine only 4 points behind.
A common theme with these was the presence of toasted oak, such as flavors of espresso, dark spices, and vanilla. For drinkers not enamored with these flavors, these wines might be a challenge. Our favorites had enough fruit to balance this out, however.
First Place: La Posta Malbec Pizzella 2017 (Mendoza). Tasters found scents of cranberry, toast, graphite, Comet, juniper, ocean breeze, and something a little creamy. Ali was reminded of "really cheap orange juice", while Kristin found "powdery chalkboard eraser." Really nice texture, like silk, with flavors reminiscent of vanilla, burnt caramel, dark spices, thyme, and rosemary. Caitlyn felt that it was "frothy on the finish." Everyone's favorite of the night, except for Ali, with a total of 35 points. Ali's bottle. About $20.
Second Place (tie): Luigi Bosca Malbec 2016 (Mendoza). Creamy caramel on the nose, along with winter tomato braise, Nutella, milk chocolate, a little rubber, brown sugar, hot chocolate, and green stems. Bright red floral palate, but also warm and cozy. Soft in a good way, like it's understated. Has notions of celery, coffee, and something medicinal on the finish. David felt that this was "a fireplace wine." Received 19 points. Andy's bottle. About $20.
Second Place (tie): Colomé Malbec Estate 2015 (Salta). The most purple in color, with aromas of wet book, cumin, bookbinding glue, acetone, red roses, cherry, strawberry, blueberry, toasted hazelnuts, and chestnuts. Full-bodied, and smooth in texture, but with great intensity. Popcorn on the attack, then notions of cranberries, blueberries, and black pepper. Tastes better than it smells, with some ink on the finish. Received 19 points. David's bottle. About $25.
Third Place: RJ Viñedos Malbec MDZ 2018 (Mendoza). Like lemon zest and grapefruit on the nose, plus old 7Up, locker room, and old rock club. Musty. There's something animal about it, like wet dog, but also sweet potato, and sea salt. Ali was reminded of "wet dog at the beach." With air, scents of artificial blackberries, root beer candies, toasted coconut, and coffee grounds emerged. Tasted like freshly ground coffee, cilantro, celery, and vegetable broth. Ali found it like "a restrained, dirty minded spy." A musky, sulfurous vegetal quality on finish, like tomatoes and Brussels sprouts. Received 15 points. Caitlyn's bottle. About $12.
Alfredo Roca Malbec Fincas 2017 (Mendoza). Aromas reminiscent of cherries, plums, raspberries, dark chocolate, citrus pith, cherry Coke, band aid, licorice, cigar smoke, and dust. Welcoming, pleasant, and bright, and maybe a bit tangy. Pleasant texture, with flavors of cheese, bell pepper, fennel, licorice, walnuts, charred wood, espresso, and black olives. Bitter aftertaste. Received 7 points. Kristin's bottle. About $16.
Luca Malbec Old Vine 2015 (Uco Valley). This smelled odd to us, like wet wool, glue, Dial soap, and something metallic. Josephine was reminded of "the water in the canned tuna", while Caitlyn found "pet odor remover." Watery tasting and flabby, tasting of green bell pepper, red grapes, and orange peel. Cinnamon stick on the short finish. Andy decided that this one "needs to go back to the gym." Worked well with the lighter foods. Only 1 point. Josephine's bottle. About $38.