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Malbec: The grape with altitude and attitude

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Another perennial star in this market with its showy black fruit, liquorice and savoury undercurrent is Finca Los Primos Malbec 2007 $10 . This red has ribs written all over it and at $10 that's a lot of writing.

Organic fans will enjoy the option of Jean Bousquet Malbec (Organic Grapes) 2007 $15 from Tupungato. The palate is full with black cherry, pepper, savoury fruit flavours flecked with liquorice, light vanilla, herbal, and mocha notes. Solid value and perfect with ribs.

The Kaiken Malbec 2007 $18 (at private wine shops) gets better every time out. The textures are glossy, the styling sleek and its sweet malbec fruit is etched with liquorice, chocolate and spice. Great value.

Similarly smooth and brimming with ripe plummy fruit is the Doña Paula Malbec 2007 $22 . It's the classic grilled steak wine that finishes smooth and dry with an aftertaste of mocha/coffee.

The Pascual Toso Malbec 2007 $14 comes with bags of sweet black fruit wrapped in liquorice with just a touch of acidity and pepper poking through the back end. Another big showy red for the money. Bring on the lamb chops.

Terrazas de los Andes Malbec Reserva 2006 $24 is a serious red with finesse yet designed for near term consumption. The palate is supple with light tannins and bright acidity and classic black cherry, plum, peppery, savoury, fruit flavours. Flank steak would be a good choice here.

The Famiglia Bianchi Malbec 2005 $20 hails from San Rafael in the southern part of Mendoza. Look for crazy smooth, rich, powerful aromas and flavours of coffee, black cherries, plums and spicy, savoury tobacco. The finish is long and warm but balanced with flecks of orange and black liquorice that keep calling you back to the glass. More of a New World style versus Euro but should have plenty of fans.

Perhaps a bit more classic is the Los Cardos Malbec 2007 $15 with its typically pepper nose and sweet mocha/chocolate, leather, and black fruit flavours. On the palate it comes up drier and firmer than you might expect with more smoky, roasted mushroom notes. Should be just fine served with most grilled meats and/or poultry.

LoTengo Malbec 2007 $14 , complete with the interactive label that has the dancing couple thrusting à la tango, consistently offers up slightly darker fruit aromas and flavours mixing smoke and bacon with plums, black cherry and light savoury liquorice elements. There is solid quality here for the price in what is a rustic but pleasant malbec. Beef empanadas are the match.