The Malbec grape originates from France but found its spiritual home in the outskirts of Mendoza, a major Argentine city just east of the Andes. From there, it spread south to a vine-growing oasis called the Uco Valley, where it began to truly sing from the soil.
The towering Andes to the west have gifted this land with alluvial runoff — millennia of water and wind erosion loosening the soil and creating alluvial fans. The resulting soil is poor, which grapevines love. The area is also a high desert, meaning elevations can reach up to 4,000 feet above sea level. Here, Malbec gets all the sun it needs to grow and concentrate its fruit while allowing the grapes to maintain good natural acidity.
From deep, dark concentration, to fruit-forward minerality, the Malbecs from the Uco Valley are beloved but there are several other regions making their mark on shelves today. In the list below you’ll find stand-out wines from the Cahors region of southwestern France, where the Malbec grape originates, and two from Oregon’s Rouge Valley, which is paving the way in American Malbec production.
Best Malbecs Under $25
Portillo Malbec 2020
Raised in stainless steel tanks, this Malbec offers vibrant notes of citrus peels and fresh flowers. Its tannins, though subtle, provide a calm balance and a slightly drying sensation that makes this wine feel much more expensive than its price tag.
Average price: $10
Don Miguel Gascon Malbec 2019
Made for weeknight sipping, Don Miguel’s Malbec is ripe with dark berry fruits, which give the wine a nice chewy texture. It’s big and juicy as Malbec should be, yet remains uncomplicated and refreshing.
Average price: $14
Anko Malbec 2020
The Salta region is one of the most extreme wine regions in Argentina, but this Malbec shows how gambling on those conditions can pay off. Bold and juicy, this wine offers some earthy tones of soil and dry wood that strike the palate in a pleasing way.
Average price: $15
Funckenhausen Malbec Blend 2020
A fun name and profile, Funckenhausen’s Malbec is a juicy blend of rich red fruits and notes of blackberry. With its easy screw cap and affordable price, you’ll want to bring this along to your next gathering for casual easy sipping.
Average price: $15
Graffigna Malbec Glorious Selection 2019
Hosting a dinner party or fun wine and cheese night? This wine’s got you covered! Its easy-drinking nature is a testament to the reputation of the Graffigna winery. Its Malbec is a delightful mix of supple fruit, and pleasant aromas of sweet flowers and savory spices.
Average price: $19
Domaine Bousquet Gran Malbec 2019
An affordable crowd pleaser, Domaine Bousquet’s Gran Malbec is brimming with fruit and natural acidity. It’s captivating without being pretentious and a great option for weeknight dinners or casual sipping.
Average price: $19
Wapisa Malbec 2019
Cool fact: Patricia Ortiz, owner of the Wapisa winery, ages her wines in the ocean. You heard that right: This Malbec was aged undersea, and as a result, it’s full-bodied and rich with warm earthy spices. Notes of cinnamon and nutmeg make this a good option for holiday meals and sipping around a roaring fire.
Average price: $22
Kind of Wild 2020
Created with the intention of showcasing sustainable winemaking around the world, Kind of Wild guarantees a 100-percent organic process for each wine it produces. This Malbec is blended with a touch of Cabernet and has supple and soft herb-infused flavors that give way to a smooth and tasty finish.
Average price: $24
Best Malbecs Under $50
Altocedro Malbec Reserva 2018
A true expression of Mendoza’s Uco Valley, this Malbec showcases a soft balance of juicy fruit, savory notes, and natural acidity. On the palate, you’ll find flavors of pepper and a hint of herbs that contrast the ripeness of the fruit. To top it off, this robust wine has a chewy mouthfeel that makes it extra special.
Average price: $30
Division Winemaking Company Malbec ‘Côt’ 2018
With a diverse and eclectic profile, this well-balanced offering from Division Winemaking is not to be missed. Flavors of mint and rhubarb playfully join notes of cola, cinnamon, and cedar. But don’t be alarmed, what may seem unconventional is actually epic balance and an extremely good Malbec.
Average price: $30
Abacela Malbec 2019
On the nose of this Malbec you’ll find spiced aromas of black pepper that perfectly complement its deeply concentrated fruit flavors. The palate is full-bodied with a nice meaty intensity, making it pleasing for even the most finicky of palates.
Average price: $32
Cedric Malbec 2020
Malbec may not be the first red variety that comes to mind for warm summer days. But this offering from the Cahors wine region in southwest France will change your opinion. Its earthy notes are laced with subtle flavors of blueberries and citrusy aromas of lime that sing when slightly chilled.
Average price: $40
2Hawk Darow Series Malbec 2018
Hailing from the Rouge Valley of Oregon, this American Malbec offers an unexpected yet delightful palate of savory mocha and briny olives. It’s these unique notes that set this Malbec apart from the pack and make it an ideal pairing for delicious grilled meats and other BBQ fare.
Average price: $49
Tapiz Malbec Black Tears 2018
If you’re partial to big and bold Napa Cabs, you will appreciate the intensity of this Malbec. It is weighted with dense and concentrated fruit, yet has a soft and elegant finish thanks to a touch of oak. It’s a beautiful sip and perfect for meals, special occasions, and gifting –– even to yourself.
Average price: $50
Where is the best Malbec made?
Though it originally hails from France, Malbec is most notably produced in Argentina, especially in the Mendoza region.
Why is Malbec so popular?
Malbec appeals to the masses due to its affordability and approachable, juicy fruit flavors. It’s easy it is to drink and pairs very well with a range of foods.
VinePair’s tasting methodology
Throughout the year, VinePair conducts numerous tastings for our popular Buy This Booze column, and wine and spirits reviews. Our mission is to provide a clear, reliable source of information for drinkers, providing an overview applicable to day-to-day buying and drinking.
Tastings are not typically conducted blind. In alignment with our reviews mission, we believe in purposefully tasting all products as our readers typically would, with full knowledge of the producer, the region, and — importantly — the price.
For Buy This Booze roundups, we typically include a maximum of one expression per brand, though we do allow multiple products from the same production facility (i.e., released under different labels).
For this roundup, we aimed to consider the best Malbecs from a variety of origins and price points. From notable to up-and-coming regions, we looked for wines whose flavor profiles went beyond the grape’s standard characteristics and showcased terroir. The lower-priced bottles of the list represent those with the most balance and concentration at their price points. As for the more expensive inclusions, these wines were chosen due to their nuanced notes and their well-rounded acidity and balance.