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Winemaking giant behind two great Malbec values

Northside Staff

Tasters: Dave Pohl, ed., Dana Malley, Jason Wentworth, Mark Britten, and Robert Bradley
Writing for the Wine Spectator website (August 22, 2014), Kim Marcus states, “Malbec is Argentina’s calling card for quality. With vineyards watered by the melting snows of the Andes Mountains and grapes ripened under a hot desert sun in a variety of terroirs, the range of flavors that Malbec can provide run the gamut from well-spiced and fruit-filled to powerful and refined.”

With enticements such as this continuing to appear in the press, the staff at Northside Wine & Spirits recently decided it was time to revisit the Argentine Malbec category. With an eye toward value, they blind tasted 29 Malbecs from Argentina all priced under $20 per bottle.

It was easy to understand the appeal of these wines. They offered up appealingly broad flavors of plush dark fruit underscored by soft, mouth filling tannins. However, rather than displaying broad “ranges of flavors,” the wines seemed rather similar to one another in their frank, fruit-forward style.

Having said that, the top wines of the tasting offer fabulous value. A big surprise was that the tasters’ top picks are both imported by California’s E. & J. Gallo Winery, the world’s largest family-owned winery!

The top wine was the Don Miguel Gascon 2013 Malbec ($13 per bottle). Full of ripe black currant fruit, it has an almost voluptuous texture, and its long finish reveals just a hint of spicy, vanilla-tinged oak. Beautifully balanced, the wine is a superb value. According to a November 4, 2008, press release, the Gallo family has imported the Gascon wines since 2007.

The release also indicates that beginning in 2009, Gallo would become the U.S. importer for the Alamos label. Another standout of the tasting was the Alamos 2014 Malbec ($10 per bottle), which offers loads of red fruit character, with juicy hints of raspberry and strawberry vying for the drinker’s attention. At its price, this easy-drinking wine is a steal.

These wines are each worthy of consideration for a case purchase and are perfect choices for entertaining. Try them with chili con carne, grilled steaks or burgers, pasta with a rich mushroom sauce, or spicy burritos, and enjoy!

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