The malbec grape may be hot, but it is not new. The Argentines have been growing it for decades and the French have been using it for centuries. Its origins are in Bordeaux, as a blending grape, and in a wine-growing district to its east called Cahors. But the Argentines set the benchmark for malbec, and the rest of the world is taking notice. It’s best described as a “big cabernet sauvignon that’s ready to drink now.” It’s affordable because there’s no need to put it in oak for two years and then age another three in the bottle—2007 is a great year. (Remember, Argentina harvests in February, so these ’07s have a few more months on them than a domestic 2007 has).
This month’s wine selections are from Sutler’s Wines & Spirits, 2225 Curve Crest Blvd., Stillwater, 651-439-3399
All wines are from Mendoza, Argentina.
Finca Flichman 2007, $7.99
This wine is soft with beautiful ripe berry fruit and a hint of vanilla. Drink it on its own or with your favorite pasta in red sauce.
Santa Julia Organica 2007, $10.99
There is lots of fruit—raspberry and black cherry with a bit of nutmeg at the end—and organic is always a plus. A lot of wine for the money. Try with a grilled pork chop.
Piatelli Premium Blend, $12.99
40% cabernet sauvignon, 30% malbec, 20% merlot, 10% cabernet franc. Rich and full of flavor, this Bordeaux–style blend shows you why the French use malbec. It makes this wine approachable and balanced. Try it with a big hamburger with blue cheese on it.
Alma Negra 2005, $24.99
60% bonarda, 40% malbec. Complex, balanced, and structured, this is a serious wine. Bonarda grapes hail from Piedmont, Italy, where the grape is often paired with barbera. It has a new best friend in Argentina named malbec. The grapes complement each other beautifully to make a robust wine with dense fruitiness. This would be three times the price if “Napa” was on the label. It cries for a bone-in rib eye, some creamed spinach, and a very good friend.