Chile takes on Malbec Masters

Malbec is often better associated with our Andean neighbour, Argentina, however Chile proved to make top Malbec at the international Malbec Masters in The Drinks Business, surprising judges with its quality and attractive price points compared to rival alternatives.

"Argentina had better watch out – Chile is working hard with Malbec to create Master-quality wine," wrote Drinks Business Editor, Patrick Schmitt MW. "Indeed, we almost awarded the nation this ultimate accolade in this year’s tasting."

Chile took home two Gold Trophies for its Malbec, with Chilensis and Millaman leading the way, as well as 6 Silver and 11 Bronze Trophies in different categories organised by price and style. Chile's Malbecs competed against several Argentine Malbecs and many from France, the US and Australia.

"Chile is present at the top rung, with two Malbecs from Chile gaining Golds this year," wrote Schmitt. "Such quality from Chile was a revelation for the judges, but for one in particular, it also served as a warning to Argentina not to become complacent."

“I was impressed with how fast the Chileans have improved the quality of their Malbec,” said fellow judge Madeleine Stenwreth MW, who did her Masters on Malbec in Mendoza.

Malbec has a long history in Chile, arriving to the southern regions of Bio Bio, Maule and Itata before it travelled across the Andes to Argentina. In Itata there are Malbec vines which are considered to be more than 200 years old. It isn't only an old and traditional variety for Chile though, there are many modern plantings of Malbec throughout the country from the northernmost regions including Elqui and Limari through to coastal plantings in Casablanca and San Antonio, and most especially in the mountain and Entre Valles regions of Colchagua, Cachapoal and Curico.

The panel tasted all the Malbecs blind and awarded Gold, Silver and Bronze medals for the best within different categories. Read the full results here.

By Amanda Barnes