Red wines from Argentina continue to be a great bargain due a combination of increasing yields and a declining peso. I worry at times about a backlash--sort of like what is happening with Australia, but for the time being I think a $10-15 Malbec is great as a middle of the week, casual wine. Here's two that I've tried recently.
2007 Antigal Malbec from the Mendoza region of Argentina. $15, 13.9% abv. Light nose of blueberries and leather, with a later touch of of strawberry cream pie. Mellow flavor with mild berry elements and a short finish.
I served this with a steak and a weird tuber. The purple sweet potato is identical in flavor to a regular sweet potato, though after baking it's an inky, nearly black purple. It definitely looks different on the plate, but I don't know that it's any better than its orange cousin.
Next up is the bottle that came along with the rosé I reviewed Monday. Xavier Flouret imports wines from several countries including Argentina under a common brand. This concept can be confusing for the novice winelover, but it's not really an unusual practice. And it's usually a good way to find new wines. If you like one, there's a chance the others were selected with a similar philosophy in mind. There are currently a dozen wines under the "X" label with plans for a dozen more.
2006 Xavier Flouret La Pilar $15, 13.5% abv. From the Uco Valley of Argentina. Lots of plum, with a jammy rich dark fruit profile. It is rich and smooth, and sips quite easily even without decanting or breathing. One thing I liked about this wine was the proper aging. Four years isn't a huge amount of time, but a lesser wine would have died out by now. This was in a great sweet spot, and while it's hard to say how future cellaring would impact it, this bottle is perfect to drink now.
There are some truly spectacular Malbecs out there that will run you over $50, but I get a lot of enjoyment out of these that are priced below $20. Sure, you can make roasted rack of lamb or seared liver, but an inexpensive Malbec is phenomenal with a simply grilled burger or even pasta with tomato sauce and spicy sausage.
The Xavier Flouret wine was received as a sample from Cognac One.