The Pleasures of Argentine Malbec

Rich aromas and big flavors make the Malbec a wine that pairs well with food

Argentine Malbec shows no signs of slowing down. Wine lovers recognize its value for full-bodied, elegant red wines. While it’s an easy wine to identify—you know it when you taste it—its flavors are tough to pigeonhole. Expect rich fruit and a velvety texture, aromas of violets, cocoa and passion fruit, with flavors of plum, sour fruit, stewed herbs and licorice. Growers are playing down oak these days, but most Argentine styles have barrel-derived flavors of vanilla and oak spice. Malbec remains one of the top red wines to enjoy with beef, but it also works very well with rich braises, risotto and even jerk chicken!     

Casarena Reserva 2010, $20
Liquorious aromas, smooth and delicious texture and a spicy cola finish with very suave tannins. It’s a sexy style that’s great with beef and chimichurri.

Primus, Mendoza 2011, $20
Deep, plummy and velvety, this is a full-bodied wine that’s at once easygoing and complex; a great choice for family get-togethers. 

Achaval Ferrer, Mendoza 2011, $21
A kaleidoscope of aromas and flavors show remarkable clarity for a wine this full-bodied. Superb earthy blackberry flavors complement lamb dishes wonderfully.      

Colomé, Salta 2011, $30
Firm and dry, from some of the highest-elevation vineyards in the world. Structured like a Cabernet, this is an elegant Malbec to enjoy with mushrooms and other earthy dishes.    

Available at Madison's finer wine stores. If unavailable, most purveyors will special order from their wholesalers if requested.

Michael Kwas is wine director at L’Etoile restaurant. He writes this column monthly.

Read more Off the Vine columns here.

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