“What a difference a decade makes!” That was my impression after seeing the – exceptional – results of the 2023 Global Malbec Masters competition. The event saw a stunning number of wines receive high scores, far more than we could have imagined ten years ago.
The 2023 Global Malbec Masters
Patrick Schmitt, Master of Wine, Editor in Chief of The Drinks Business, and President of the Global Wine Masters competition series, begins his report on the 2023 Global Malbec Masters, in which Argentina played a starring role, with great enthusiasm.
The Global Masters are international competitions held in the United Kingdom sponsored by The Drinks Business. The event evaluates wines by grape variety and brings together a jury made up exclusively of Masters of Wine, Master Sommeliers and senior wine buyers. During the tasting rounds, each wine is evaluated for the flavor of the grape and the oenologist’s skill at achieving optimal results.
The conclusions of the jury
The first point made by the jury noted that in their years of blind tasting Malbecs, they had encountered interesting shifts in style and quality and now believe that the variety may have achieved the right balance.
Patrick Schmitt reports: “During the 2000s one would come across more rustic and diluted wines made from Côt, as Malbec is known in its native Cahors, or fruitier versions with notes of oak and high alcohol content when they came from Argentina. In the intervening period, we’ve seen Malbecs from the southwest of France soften up and improve while versions from South America have moved from opulence to lighter versions, sometimes with a touch of greenness, and then shift back in the other direction to a position – the current one – where they are generous and ripe but also refreshing.
Meanwhile, Jonathan Pedley, Master of Wines and a member of the jury for the 2023 Global Malbec Masters, noted, “I was especially struck by the fact that several of the negative aspects we saw in previous editions of the Malbec Masters barely featured on this occasion.”
The experts’ statements, which declared that in the Malbec category, Argentina is the world leader, noted that there were very few over-extractive, over-alcoholic wines with too much oak or overbearing tannins. Schmitt says that, “the tasting showed us the excellent wines that Malbec and Argentina can produce in every price segment.”
From the price point of £10 on, the wines take a leap in quality, with several gold medals and even Master titles, showing that Malbec, especially from Mendoza, is capable of producing excellent value wines with a broad and immediate attraction. Pedley adds: “The fruity character has grown juicier and more enticing, with the oak bringing touches of richness and complexity. The finishes have also grown longer,” he said, adding that these are wines “that make consumers smile.”
The judges were most struck by the £20 to £30 segment with many Malbecs presenting a combination of fleshy dark fruit, black pepper spiciness and complementary toasted and vanilla notes from the barrel aging.
Finally, in the highest price segment, from £30 to £100, there are indications that Malbec can be the base for great wines, not just in the famous areas of Argentina, but also France. This is true of La Roche Mère de Crocus in Cahors, which earned a Master title, placing it side by side with renowned South American producers such as Salentein and Terrazas de los Andes.
With regard to the highest valued and highest priced wines at the 2023 Global Malbec Masters, Pedley said, “The best wines here have a sophistication that wasn’t present in the less expensive categories: the fruit was ripe but not cooked, the tannins were polished and the finishes were long.”
This link will take you to the full list of award winners and the original article in The Drinks Business.