I prefer red wines to whites and my favorite reds are zinfandels, shirazes and malbecs, in that order.
Each has a unique flavor: Zinfandels tend to be vegetable-like and spicy and usually have a distinctive green bell pepper flavor. Shirazes are a mellower version of zinfandels, sort of like the way merlot is a mellower version of cabernet sauvignon.
While malbec grapes are made into wines all over the world, there are two major types of malbecs. The first come from France, where they are mixed with other grapes to make Bordeaux. While these wines are quite delicious, they tend to be too expensive for me.
The second come from Argentina, which essentially has made malbec its national wine. Most Argentinean malbecs are grown in the Mendoza Province, although some vintners have been experimenting with growing the grapes at higher altitudes.
The grapes of the Mendoza Province are irrigated by mineral-enriched water flowing down from the Andes Mountains, which is nice to think about while sipping these wines.
While French malbec grapes tend to be large and loose, Argentinean malbec grapes grow smaller and in tighter clusters. Some wine experts contend that Argentinean malbecs are more closely related to the original French malbecs which were brought to South America from Europe in the mid-19th Century. Most of France’s malbec grapes were wiped out by a phylloxera epidemic.
This particular Malbec — Bodega Elena de Mendoza — is produced by Daniela Romero, whose family emigrated to Argentina from Italy in the mid-19th Century, about the same time the Argentinean wine industry was first getting up and running. It is named after Elena Napoli, the family’s matriarch. The brand is distributed by Gallo, the giant wine company.
I enjoy this particular malbec for two reasons: First, it tastes great. It has a bold fruity flavor but is still smooth enough to enjoy. Second, it is affordable, selling for $7.99/bottle at our local supermarket, which offers a 15% discount if you buy six mixed bottles of wine, bringing the final price to $6.79. This wine is a bargain at that price.
If you are looking for an affordable, lush wine that pairs well with strong flavors and grilled meats, check out Argentinean malbecs for a delicious alternative to cabernet sauvignons or zinfandels.