Bodegas Norton 2002 Mendoza Malbec Reserve ($14.49)
This is an inky blackish-purple wine, opaque in the glass. Plummy black-fruit flavors seem a bit closed and tight at first, but open up with time in the glass. More fruit-forward on the palate, it's big and monolithic, blueberries and cream and a dash of spice, somewhat one-dimensional but huge and ripe, fruit and sweet oak and a heady 14 percent alcohol, made in the "international blockbuster" style. It's a wine genre that finds a ready market, but I regret its utter lack of any sense of place. US Importer: TGIC Importers Inc., Woodland Hills, Calif. (Aug 1, 2005)
FOOD MATCH: I don't find wines of this type make the best food wines, as they tend to dominate just about everything at the table. That said, it would work well enough with grilled red meat, and the addition of some aromatic but not fiery Indian spice to a chicken pilaf with roasted red peppers made it a pretty good match.
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