Carrying on with today’s celebration of World Malbec Day, we have two offerings from one of the leading and legendary names of Malbec. Before the buzz circling around the varietal grew large, Susana Balbo was at the forefront of the trend, crafting high-quality wines that made the world stand up and take notice. She was ahead of her time in other ways, graduating as the first female enologist of Argentina in 1981. Before starting her own line, she also served as a consultant for numerous other wineries and worked as President of the Wines of Argentina Association for three terms. Her shadow looms large over Mendoza and today we have the opportunity to sample two recent bottlings from her vineyards: her eponymous signature blend and Ben Marco, a line created in partnership with Edgardo Del Pópolo.
2020 Susana Balbo Signature Malbec – A blend of 96% Malbec and 4% Cabernet Franc harvested from the Altamira region of Mendoza’s Valle de Uco, aged 13 months in French oak. It’s a young malbec dense with black currant and garden herbs on the nose that transitions to smoke, licorice and bright raspberry on the palate. The oak tempers some of the sweetness as it rests in the glass, with notes of chocolate and tobacco emerging on the finish providing some intrigue. It is ready to drink immediately but could be a real firecracker with a few years in cellar. A- / $28
2020 Ben Marco Malbec – 100% Malbec with grapes harvested in Valle de Uco, Mendoza, aged in French oak for 11 months. Big blackberry and violet notes on the nose, with a touch of smoke after a bit of time. A lush palate of blackberry and plum carries things forward nicely while the oak influence and a touch of pepper play with firm tannins and bright acidity on a lengthy finish. A straightforward, inoffensive Malbec deserving of consideration, which will pair well with something straight off the grill. B+ / $19