Page 2 of 3
Argentina is on fire right now and you can pick from a variety of labels. Among the consistent and affordable is Trivento Reserve Malbec 2007 ($13) , or the Pascual Toso Malbec 2008 ($14) or the Alamos Malbec 2008 ($17) .
Interesting new offerings include the Xumek Sol Huape Malbec 2007 ($22) , an appealing style of malbec from north of Mendoza in San Juan. The nose is fragrant; the palate is silky smooth with bright black fruit flavours. Equally appealing is the Valle Las Acequias Malbec 2005 ($20) . The nose is an enticing mix of violets, red fruits and plums. The palate is an impressive mix of silky high Medrano fruit with intense flavours of plums and liquorice. Steaks, anyone?
I can't resist one last highly recommended malbec: Don Miguel Gascon Malbec 2007 ($17) . The Gascon is built with soft edges and plenty of warm, smoky, white pepper and floral fruit. Rich and balanced, it totally over-delivers for the price. Try this with barbecued spareribs or grilled chicken.
California has been riding under the wine radar for some time with its pricey red blends playing second fiddle to many Old World offerings, but there are labels that boast the ripe fruit that made California wine so popular two decades ago.
The Mad Housewife Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 ($14) is simply fun. Look for a soft, supple entry with bright cherry fruit marked with bits of milk chocolate and mint. No rough edges here in what is really a friendly-style California cabernet that delivers for the price. If you are looking for a bit bigger bite and something a little different, the Bridlewood Syrah 2005 ($17) opens with soft, silky textures and follows that with meaty black fruit/blackberry flavours flecked with liquorice.
Italian wine fans should seek out Le Volte 2007 ($34) and its delicious mix of sangiovese (51 per cent) merlot (34 per cent) and cabernet sauvignon (15 per cent). You notice a fragrance and freshness seldom seen in New World reds, not to mention a sense of balance and harmony that keeps you coming back to the glass. Impressive.
Finally from Australia, it's worth noting the Penfolds Bin 138 Shiraz - Mourvèdre - Grenache 2006 ($35) . The mix here is 39/32/29 shiraz/grenache/mourvèdre all matured in five-year-old French and American oak. Glossy candied fruit with spicy orange, mineral cedar and tobacco fill out its considerable but soft length. Grilled lamb chops come to mind.