Malbec is one of those varietals that’s always been hit or miss for me. Originally a minor blending grape in Bordeaux, Malbec is truly at its best in Argentina and has put Mendoza on the map. It tends to have spicy and dark fruit flavors – which I love – but often with an inconsistent mouth feel. Sometimes it’s too tannic and sucks the moisture right out of my mouth, sometimes it seems watered down, and other times it just seems unremarkable.
These issues were not at all the case with the Benegas 2009 Malbec from their Libertad Vineyards. At $12 a bottle at Evolution Wine and Spirits in Chicago, it is a fantastic buy. Half of the grapes are from the cooler Mendoza zone, and the other half are from the Primera Zona, which is a bit warmer. The combination results in a wine that is a perfect balance between fruit and spice, with a rockin’ body and silky mouth feel I usually associate with Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah.
It was aged in French oak – more neutral than American oak – for 12 months and I presume the rest of the time in the bottle. I suspect it is the amount of bottle aging that results in this softly textured but full-bodied wine.
At 15%, this is a deliciously potent wine that is fine to sip leisurely on its own, with dark chocolate, or with a great steak and good company.