Looking for an affordable malbec? Look to Argentina

FOR THE BELLINGHAM HERALDApril 8, 2014 

These days there's practically a special day for everything. World Smile Day, World Pasta Day, World Left-Handers Day ... even World Malbec Day.

Did somebody say Malbec Day? Now that's a day I'll celebrate.

World Malbec Day was established a few years by an organization called Wines of Argentina (think Washington Wine Commission as a regional equivalent). April 17 is the day for this year's events, which include tastings around the globe in recognition of the red wine grape that has really taken off the last 20 to 25 years.

Malbec has shown promise in Washington as well, but production has been nowhere near the quantity coming out of Argentina. You'll find Washington malbec mainly as a component of a red wine blend, or, if it is bottled as a single varietal, frequently costing around $25 to $30 a bottle.

That can be a bit steep for some people's wine budgets, although many Washington malbecs are well worth it.

But if you're trying to be a bit more cost-conscious, look no further than Argentina for solid, reliable malbecs. It's relatively easy to shop locally and find Argentinean malbecs that fit nicely within the $10- to $20-a-bottle category.

Whatever the source, it's good to know that malbec is an excellent wine to have on hand at the dinner table. It pairs well with most everything beef (prepared in practically any style) and also complements lamb, barbeque pork ribs and roasted chicken.

Here are some Argentinean malbecs from the country's critically acclaimed Mendoza region that I've tasted as of late for you to consider:

Árido 2011 Malbec (about $12) - This wine jumps out with black olive, pepper and dried herbs, along with adequate acidity and somewhat firm tannins. Enjoy it with a juicy, medium-rare pepper-encrusted steak.

Argento 2012 Malbec (about $14) - A sip of this malbec is almost like sinking your teeth into a savory berry pie. Enjoy juicy blackberry fruits, with melt-in-your-mouth buttery, caramel and herbal accents on the finish. Fun, but sophisticated, this wine is a pleasure to taste.

Tomero Wines 2011 Malbec (about $19) - Understated boysenberry and blueberry flavors lead off, with a nice meaty texture in the mid-palate and a trailing hint of smokiness. If you like your malbecs more reserved without all the fruit-forwardness, this is the wine for you.

Argento Reserva 2011 Malbec (about $19) - Stunning violet and plum aromas are followed by perfectly balanced black currant, blackberry and black plum flavors. The nicely structured finish glides endlessly on a velvety note of bittersweet chocolate. This malbec is the complete package and one of the best I've tasted in quite some time.

Dan Radil is a wine enthusiast who lives in Bellingham. Reach him at danthewineguy.com.

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