A small slice of the malbec world

Malbec from Argentina has become something of a victim of its own success. As has happened with so many wines, popularity begets increased production to keep up with demand, which results in a lot of indifferent wines. Most aren’t bad; they’re just not all that exciting.

Nevertheless, there are some malbecs that are worth your attention. So in the spirit of Malbec World Day, April 17, I’ve rounded up three recommendations. (April 17, by the way, was chosen because it marks the date when, in 1853, a bill was introduced that is now seen as paving the way for the development of the Argentine wine industry.)

Alta Vista is an Argentine winery owned by a French family – a good example of “malbec world.” The winery has several tiers, and I was impressed by the 2014 Alta Vista Terroir Selection Malbec ($30), a blend of grapes from the Lujan de Cuyo and Uco Valley regions of Mendoza. The wine is dark and dense, with lively, concentrated black fruit and hints of anise and spice. It’s structured but approachable.

A more affordable Argentine option is the 2016 Amalaya Malbec ($16) from Salta, in northern Argentina, a place probably better known for wines made from the white grape torrontes. The Amalaya Malbec exhibits ripe berry, some peppery notes and firm tannins on the finish.

Finally, a choice from California. California malbec often is considerably more expensive than its Argentine counterparts. This one is a little pricey, but it goes down easily. The 2014 Rodney Strong Reserve Malbec ($40) from Sonoma County offers rich, plump black fruit with baking spice, a hint of vanilla and fine tannins.