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Argentinean Malbec recommendations?

My friends and I are getting together to "relive" our trip to Argentina. Anyone have any good recs of Malbecs I can buy in Chicago? Don't want something too pricey...

Thanks in advance!

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  1. Not sure how easy it may be to find in Chicago but one of the better values I've found is Bodegas Catena Zapata Alamos label from Mendoza. They make an entry level Malbec (around $10) and one called Seleccion (closer to $15) that are both very good. someone from Argentina turned me on to this label and he has been spot on with his recommendations.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Midlife

      There are 4 lines from Bodega Catena, and even within those there seem to more than one malbec: Catena Zapata, Alta, Catena (Mendoza), and Alamos. Basic difference how long they are aged; Zapata, most expensive, is 24 months, Alta 18 months, Catena 12 months, and Alamos 9 months and then within that there is barrel differences (i.e. the Alamos Seleccion has a higher percentage of American oak than French).

      My favorite, in terms of quality and value, is the Catena Mendoza malbec. It has been my house wine for the past couple of years, and I can get for about $20 here in Canada so probably cheaper in Chicago. Never had a guest who tried and didn't go out and buy some.

      The Catena Zapata is extremely good, but pricy.

      1. re: Dan G

        Thanks for clarifying, Dan G. I was referring to the Catena Mendoza. I have not tried the Alta or the Zapata, but they have stellar reputations.

        1. re: Dan G

          Just to make sure I have it down for searching purposes ....... according to their site, the winery is named Bodega Catena Zapata.......right??? Their premiere export line is also named Catena Zapata. The other three export lines are Catena Alta, Catena and Alamos. The brands in Argentina go by other names, except they do list Catena Zapata for Argentina and also Alamos de Mendoza.

          1. re: Midlife

            Yes, that's right. I think there is sometimes a bit of comfusion between the top-end Zapata and the mid-range Catena. I've tried all levels of the malbec, and best deal is the basic Catena (in fact, last night we went through about 1/2 case over a long, lingering tapas dinner!). The Zapata is a great wine, but not worth the extra money comparatively. Nor is the Alta, but I think the extra few $ to go up one from the Alamos is definitely worth it.

      2. Altosur or Finca Sophenia. Both are high-altitude (4000 ft), estate-bottled. The Altosur should be available for around $10. The FS is only slightly more.

        1. The first Malbecs I ever tried I think I bought in Chicago... Try the Binnies on clark (3000 N?), or Sams to start.... Binnies downtown (on grand) is pretty good selection too.... the Catena rec is good, but ask the shops what they have....

          Come to think of it, the first malbec I recall getting was from the binnies up in skokie... there are so many great wine shops in chicago, fahgedaboutit :)

          2 Replies
          1. re: Chicago Mike

            Yay Chicago! Thanks for the recommendations everyone. I will be trying out a Malbec tonight at Ravinia.

            1. re: Chew on That

              who's playing? Last time I was there I caught a dynamite concert by Creedence clearwater Revisited, the closest interpreter of CCR yet :)

          2. The first Malbecs I ever tried I think I bought in Chicago... Try the Binnies on clark (3000 N?), or Sams to start.... Binnies downtown (on grand) is pretty good selection too.... the Catena rec is good, but ask the shops what they have....

            Come to think of it, the first malbec I recall getting was from the binnies up in skokie... I was buying some pretty good zinfandels and one of their wine buyers put me on to malbec.... there are so many great wine shops in chicago, fahgedaboutit :)

            3 Replies
            1. re: Chicago Mike

              Septima has estate grown Malbec which is damn tasty for about $10.00, owned by the Raventos family which owns the Cordineiu group so they have lots of $$ to invest in great technology and land

              1. re: Winer

                Argentinian malbec IMO, is a mixed bag, sort of like Aussie shiraz. While there are some very good malbecs from Argentina, it is such a mass-produced commodity that I find I really have to pick and choose (lots of trial and error).

                Achaval Ferrer makes an excellent "entry-level" malbec for around $20 (they also make malbecs in the $150 range, which are incredible, but you indicated that you did not wish to spend too much). I find that Achaval Ferrer's wines are quite restrained and complex, eschewing the bright, sweet fruit flavours so commonly found in Arg. malbec.

                Others that I have tried and enjoyed include:

                Altos Las Hormigas Reserva

                Bodega Catena Zapata

                Dominia Del Plata-Benmarco

                Terrazas de las Andes Reserva

                Good luck!

                1. re: anewton

                  oh my! I DO love the Altos Las Hormigas also! I can buy it in SW FL for $8.50 at Total Wine...I think I picked up the rec from this very board but not sure which thread...really excellent! Hope that the OP can find it where he/she lives!

              1. re: Brad Ballinger

                Yes, the Bosca is very good. In the same price range as the Catena Mendoza, and almost as good.

              2. Altocedro Reserva.

                I don't know about the Chicago market.

                1. Try the Aleph old vines malbec, great structure and depth and it should be around $25 retail

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: newyorkbuff

                    I love a good Argentinian Wine. Here are my favorites...they range in price here in Canada from $18-$50, so they will be a lot cheaper in Chicago, I would think availability there would be good.

                    ben marco
                    ben marco expresivo
                    susanna balboa
                    bodega O.Fournier (expecially alpha crux)