A hugely entertaining Malbec Masterclass

Graffignalogobuddha bar 16I enjoy writing about wine, I’m certainly no expert but what have is a real passion for drinking the stuff (very important) and learning as much as I can in the process. It certainly has its rewards and I have been lucky enough to be invited to some wonderful events meeting wine makers, writers, critics, as well as other wine geeks.

A few weeks ago I got an email from Graffigna, Pernod Ricard UK’s leading Argentinian Malbec, asking if I would like to attend an evening at the Buddha Bar in Knightsbridge London which was the venue for a ‘Malbecs of Argentina Masterclass’ in partnership with Decanter and Riedel.

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On arrival we were greeted with a chilled glass of Graffigna Torrontes, accompinied by some wonderful Canapes. The Torrontes seemed to be well received by all, pale yellow in colour with perhaps a hint of green, very hard to see as the venue was pretty dark.

Very perfumy on the nose, full of rose petals and lime. That perfume floweriness continued in the taste, lovely and soft and fantastic with the asian food being handed out in quantity.

Left to right, Patricio & Federico

After a glass or three of the Torrontes we were all ushered into a private room for the main event. Acclaimed wine critic Patricio Tapia and Graffigna wine ambassador Federico Lleonart were the South American double act presenting the ‘Malbecs of Argentina Masterclass’. Between them they gave us a brief history of Argentinian Malbec explaining all the main wine-producing areas. The talk was both entertaining and informative and helped by the five wines we were given to taste along the way.

1- Etchart Malbec 2013 (Salta) Unoaked, entry level, bright acidity, spice and ripe dark fruits 14%

2- Graffigna Centenario Malbec 2013 (San Juan) touch of French oak, tannic, spice, dark berries, floral 14.5%

3- Chateau de Gaudou Malbec 2013 (Cahors, France) Blended with Tannat, little harsher, vegetal, acidic, 13%

4- Catena Malbec 2013 (Mendoza) Peppery spice, Blackberry, blackcurrant, Vanilla, elegant, 13.5%

5- Graffigna Grand Reserve Malbec 2011 (San Juan) Elegant, ripe dark cherries and blackcurrant, more complex, 14.5%

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Cabernet glass on left, Riedel Malbec glass on right.







All of the wines were different and enjoyable,  the Catena and both the Graffigna’s  were the stand out wines for me and it was nice to taste the French Cahors for contrast.

During the final tasting we were asked to compare the same wine (Graffigna Grand Reserve)  in a standard Cabernet Sauvignon glass and the new Riedel Malbec glass to see if we could notice a difference. I must admit I was sceptical about this but I was happy to be proved wrong and I was. The Malbec glass definitely had more intense aromas and taste the wider Cabernet glass which was fairly muted on the nose.

In the words of Federico ‘What makes this glass perfect for Malbec? The wider bowl and the narrower rim heighten and concentrate the aromas, particularly the red and black fruit notes. As you sip, the narrow rim directs the wine to the center of the tongue, targeting specific taste buds and sensations.’ I must admit, I agreed 100%

After the hugely entertaining Masterclass, we were served a Steak dinner and served the wine of our choice, mine was the Graffigna Grand Reserve 2011 , generously, two full bottles were left on our table along with Graffigna Centenario Reserve 2013 and a Etchart Malbec 2013, all were polished off.

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A big thank you to Graffigna, Decanter, Riedel and Pernot Ricard for the generosity. fantastic night, fantastic guests, great venue and even got a Riedel Malbec glass as a gift to take home.

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3 thoughts on “A hugely entertaining Malbec Masterclass

  1. Hi Dave, sounds like an ace night! Love the selection of Malbecs you got to try, I’m a fan of the Catena in particular. I wonder whether, in your opinion, Argentina does better Malbecs in general than south west France?


    1. Hi Tom, Yes it was a fabulous night. I think I prefer Argentinian Malbecs but there’s not much in it. The Cahors we tasted at the masterclass was a little harsher,vegetal, slightly more acidic and had a small percentage of Tannat. The Argentian wines were generally more velvety, smoother and fruit forward although still oaky and tannic, which I like. So Argentina just for me and I do prefer 100% Malbecs


      1. Fair enough, I do think the grape fares better in hotter climates, and I guess Cahors doesn’t reach the necessary temps each year. I don’t know if you’ve tried the Viñalba Malbec-Touriga Nacional blend? It’s absolutely stonking – best wine I’ve tasted so far this year.


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