Wine Reviews Tasting Notes and Education for the Non-Snob, by Vino Joe, a Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW)

Graffigna Malbec 2010

Graffigna “Centenario” Malbec 2010 | San Juan, Argentina

Malbec has taken the USA by storm over the past few years; it’s becoming this generation’s Merlot. With so many examples in varying styles coming up from Argentina — and more recently, from other areas of the globe — it’s important to me, for selfish reasons, to keep track of the ones I enjoy.

Graffigna is a label I see frequently on restaurant lists, usually by-the-glass. Several times I passed on ordering it, simply because I couldn’t remember if it was a Malbec I liked, or not. Does that ever happen to you? This is pretty much the main reason I keep a blog of my tastings — because the older I get, the more my mind fails! Anyway, on to the tasting notes and review.

On the nose I get notes of black fruit, dark chocolate, some spice, minty eucalyptus, and hints of earth. In the mouth I get spice, spice, and more spice, with a quick hit of sweet blueberry, touch of tobacco, and black berry fruit. On its own, the palate bites a bit — there’s too much acidity and alcohol, especially when the wine is at room temperature (which is too warm for red wine, anyway). I chilled it down to a more reasonable temp (58 degrees) and the biting sensation went away; I recommend you chill down most red wines to between 55-60 degrees. Still, by itself it’s not a star — but it shows itself grandly with food. I successfully paired it with baby-back ribs from Houlihans (yes, I’m ashamed to admit it; but, Houlie’s is across the street from my abode, and there are few other reasonably priced take-out choices within walking distance). Though the ribs may have been a touch too sweet, Graffigna Malbec stood up well and did a yeoman’s job — mainly because of its rich, spicy flavor. Probably, a better match would have been a Zinfandel or one of those California “red blends” that are taking the US by storm lately (the residual sugar of blends would match well with the slightly sweet BBQ sauce). I firmly believe Graffigna Malbec is a solid burger wine, and will also pair well with other beef dishes (steaks, particularly flank, london broil, and skirt steaks), as well as roast lamb, blackened chicken, and rich cheeses.

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Disclosure: I received this wine as a press sample


  1. Just had this Malbec last night at a Virginia restaurant…$9 a glass and $30 a bottle. Definitely a bit pricey! We have seen this at our Total Wine store for $10.99?

    • The retail price, obviously, is a lot easier to swallow (pardon the pun). That kind of markup at the restaurant is a little higher than what I’ve experienced in the NY-metropolitan area (I usually see it for around $7 by the glass and $25/bottle), but doesn’t surprise me. It’s — unfortunately — fairly common for a restaurant to make the by-the-glass charge close to what they pay for a bottle.

      I do understand that a restaurant makes most of its profit from beverage sales, and do understand that markup is necessary to keep the lights on — they do have to pay for the storage, keeping the wine cool, the service, spoilage, etc. However, I also believe that in some cases, restaurants are gouging their customers with obnoxiously high prices.

      • As an outlets manager in the restaurant industry the price increase is quite a bit more…we actually sell by the glass at $ 11 and this inline with normal pricing in the industry. It isn’t gouging in the sense of what prices are nationwide…though in the eyes of customers it is and I for one wouldn’t pay that amount. But of course your favorite restaurant wouldn’t be in business either if they weren’t at least charging the norm.

  2. Discovered this wine quite by accident this summer (it was a dollar or two off at the liquor store, and I make a point of trying new “on sale” wines… The 2$ off justifies the purchase if I happen to hate the wine haha). Anyways, just wondering if you could recommend any other similar wines (of similar price). I’m a fan of spicy wines, bold flavor, dry wines with +tannins. Let me know if you can think of any good ones to add to my “usuals” list (as this one has now been added!).



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