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Wine Review: Malbecs make statement in America

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Malbec wines are rapidly becoming America's favorite red wine.

The variety historically has found little acceptance in France, where it’s used mostly as an additive to cabernet sauvignon and merlot to stiffen its backbone and for making the very titanic “black wines” of Cahors, France. With the great Italian migration to Argentina in the late 1800s, the immigrants brought with them grape vines, one among which was the malbec. The soil, the weather, the mineral-laden water coming off the Andes mountains and perhaps some divine intervention transformed the hard-as-nails variety into a soft, very full-flavored and delightful wine.

Coen 2019 Classic Malbec ($25)
This 100% malbec wine showcases the quality of grapes derived from the Uco Valley of Mendoza, Argentina. This district has proven to be very friendly for grape growing, primarily the malbec. Bright red in color and medium in intensity with garnet highlights, this wine has aromas of cherries and strawberries, with hints of spice and smoky notes that continue to the flavor and the finish. It is the smokiness that makes any malbec the ideal wine to accompany anything off the barbeque.

Trapiche 2019 Broquel Malbec ($19)
The name Trapiche indicates it was made by one of Argentina's most renowned wineries. This wine came from hand-selected grapes on 30-year-old vines, and in this case, with age comes great depth and delicacy. The dark color of this malbec announces the aromas of plum and spice, with coffee and vanilla politely residing in the background. Another benefit of grapes from geriatric vines is that the wines they produce are usually blessed with a long and very kaleidoscopic finish. This wine is no exception. The flavors of the finish are big and represent myriad red fruits but none you can actually isolate. I must add here that this is among the most interesting malbecs that I have recently experienced.

Unanime 2017 Malbec ($20)
These grapes came from a vineyard at the foothills of the Andes mountains specifically devoted to the growing of malbec grapes. This offering provides another view of a familiar wine. It has been well aged prior to release, but the label indicates the wine will gain greater complexity and softness if allowed a few more years of bottle aging. Cherries, plums, cinnamon and a hint of coffee are the dominant flavors, with oak comfortably residing in the background and nesting with a host of other red fruit flavors.

Wine columnist Bennet Bodenstein can be reached at


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