Woman on Wine with Amy Reiley
As little as fifteen years ago, it would have been very unlikely to see Malbec singled out for a wine feature. Until recent years, the varietal was best recognized as one of the blending grapes used to make great Bordeaux. But in the late twentieth century, Argentina adopted Malbec as its own. Unlike the Malbec of Bordeaux, which primarily lends color and tannin to blends, magic happens for this red grape in the Argentine soil and climate.
Although the wines tend not to offer great complexity, Argentine Malbecs offer wonderful dark berry and spice character with tons of body and aging potential. Most importantly, they tend to represent great value. Although full-bodied reds generally aren’t the kind of wines I choose to drink in summer, inexpensive Malbec is a great choice for a backyard bbq, delivering a big, earthy, spicy flavor perfect for pairing with anything off the grill.
My Argentine Malbec recommendations:
2010 Nieto Senetiner Nieto Reserva
This wine packs incredible punch for its $15 price tag. With a bit of smoke, fig and blackberries on the nose and sweaty, musky fruit and spice on the palate, it has wide appeal. I particularly like the punch of black pepper and chocolate on the finish.
2011 Rutini Wines Trumpeter
This is a very pleasant and surprisingly elegant wine for something in the $10 range. It offers blackberry and prune notes and a lighter body than the typical Malbec. Its soft tannins make it approachable and a bit of pepper at the back adds a little something interesting.
2010 Ricardo Santos
Made in an approachable, easy-drinking style, this is a nice choice for pairing with a grilled chicken dinner. On the nose it offers candied cherry and smoke notes with lots of black and red berry fruit in the mouth. It lingers long with hints of dried cranberry and a pleasing silkiness.
This is a particularly masculine wine with a strong backbone of tannin and very direct black currant and blueberry aromas and flavors. Notes of bramble and cedar add complexity and a zing of acidity gives it freshness.
2008 Zuccardi Zeta
A blend of 73% Malbec and 27% Cabernet Sauvignon, this wine is intense and sexy. Black as ink in color, it offers sweet blackberry pie aromas and blackberry and black currant flavors. Toward the back of the palate spice, caramel and a vaguely vegetal something tickle the taste buds adding intrigue.
2011 Finca Las Nubes Rose of Malbec
This is a really lovely representation of the Malbec grape in a lighter, more feminine form. This deep pink rosé offers beautifully balanced freshness and straightforward, pomegranate flavor. This is pool wine at its finest.
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