30 Second Wine Advisor
Tour the world of wine with Robin Garr in 2004
New Zealand tour with Wine & Food Trails, Feb. 3-12, 2004
www.foodandwinetrails.com/
html/new_zealand.html

Burgundy and Champagne tour with French Wine Explorers, May 24-30, 2004
www.wine-tours-france.com/
BurgundyWineTours.htm


Today's sponsors
California Wine Club
Avoid the malls and the stress! This holiday season, send a California wine adventure! Each month The California Wine Club hand-selects two bottles of award-winning wine from California's best "mom & pop" wineries.
http://www.cawineclub.com
?Partner_ID=winelovers


Saratoga Wine Exchange
The Saratoga Wine Exchange is your source for fine wine online! Spend less time searching web sites for that rare vintage or gift - we've done the work for you! Our online store is easy to use, flash-free and full of fine, rare and collectible wines.
http://www.e-winegifts.com

In This Issue
 Food-friendly Malbec
 Altos Las Hormigas 2001 Mendoza Malbec ($9.49)
 Admin notes: Travel plans, and our graphics edition
Administrivia

TO SUBSCRIBE:
click here

ARCHIVES:
For all past editions,
click here

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES:
For information, E-mail
wine@wineloverspage.com

Food-friendly Malbec

Here's a funny thing about Malbec: Any wine reference book worth its grapes will tell you that it is one of the five permitted varieties in the Bordeaux red blend. But try to find a sample of it on the ground in Bordeaux, and the chances are you'll come up empty-handed.

Malbec ("Mahl-bek") seems to be the Rodney Daingerfield of Bordeaux grapes: It gets little respect these days in its ancestral home.

The underlying reason for this, it seems, is that Malbec is a finicky vine whose fruit is prone to rot and mildew in the cool, damp coastal climate of Bordeaux. But ask a Bordelais grower why there's no Malbec around, and you'll more likely get a dismissive shrug and sniff than a viticultural analysis.

Happily, though, Malbec still thrives in the arid climate of Argentina's Mendoza region in the foothills of the Andes. Made in the context of this South American nation's Spanish and Italian heritage, it produces a delicious wine that has almost nothing in common with Bordeaux except the color: It's red. (Malbec survives also in Southwestern France's Cahors region, where the natives sometimes call it a "black" wine - that's a story for another day.)

What I like best about Argentine Malbec - it may be the Italian component in the country's mixed Latin family tree that fosters this - it's an exceptional companion with a broad range of food. Its well-balanced fruit-and-acid profile makes it a natural with rare beef (bear in mind that Argentina is cattle country), but it's just as good with simple fare from burgers to fried chicken, and one of the best wine matches I've found for pizza.

Today's tasting, a perennial value favorite from Argentina, is the 2001 vintage Altos Las Hormigas ("The Ants"!), the basic Malbec from Altos de Medrano, a Mendoza producer owned by an Italian-Argentine group that includes the well-known Italian wine importer Marco de Grazia. This basic bottling, widely available for $10 or less, offers a benchmark example of quality Argentine Malbec. Keep an eye out also for the Las Hormigas Reserva, one of the best of the higher-price Malbecs in the $20 range.

TELL US WHAT YOU THINK
As always, your comments and opinions are welcome in our Wine Lovers' Discussion Group. To join in an interactive, international, round-table online discussion on today's topic, click to
http://www.myspeakerscorner.com/forum/index.phtml?fn=1&tid=46721&mid=391729

If you prefer to comment privately, feel free to send me E-mail at wine@wineloverspage.com. I'm sorry that the overwhelming amount of mail I receive makes it tough to respond personally every time, but I do try to get back to as many as I can.


Altos Las Hormigas Altos Las Hormigas 2001 Mendoza Malbec ($9.49)

This dark reddish-purple wine shows characteristic Malbec red-berry fruit aromas with grace notes of brown spices. Full and juicy red-fruit flavors are nicely balanced by zippy acidity, providing the cleansing edge needed in a good food wine. Some spicy oak presence shows up as the wine opens in the glass, but fruit remains in the foreground. (A portion of the wine is aged in small oak barrels while the rest stays in stainless steel.) Closed with a black synthetic cork. U.S. importer: Vintner Select, Cincinnati, and other regional importers. (Dec. 1, 2003)

FOOD MATCH: As you'd expect of an Argentine red, it's a natural with beef, but you needn't save it for a steak dinner: It made a great match with juicy ground-round hamburgers flavored with red onions and garlic.

VALUE: Very good value.

WHEN TO DRINK: Well-balanced Malbecs might age, but like Zinfandel, I prefer to enjoy them while their trademark fruit is young and fresh. Drink over the next year, then move on to the succeeding vintage.

WEB LINK: Altos de Medrano has a Web page at
http://www.altoslashormigas.com/
but my browser won't take me past the hotlinked ant image on the main page. If any of you have better luck, please let me know!

FIND THIS WINE ONLINE: Find a source for Altos Las Hormigas at Wine-Searcher.com:
http://www.wine-searcher.com/find/Altos+Hormigas/2001/-/USD/A?referring_site=WLP


Admin notes: Travel plans, and our graphics edition

Touching briefly on a couple of quick admin matters:

 TRAVEL PLANS: We're celebrating the start of the holiday season with a quick long-weekend trip to visit family on Florida's Space Coast. Rather than skip a Wine Advisor edition, I hope to publish at least a brief report on Friday. But please be aware that both Friday's edition and Monday's weekly Advisor might arrive off schedule.

 OUR GRAPHICS EDITION: Due to a technical glitch, those of you who subscribed to the Wine Advisor during the last couple of months were not offered the option of choosing our HTML/Graphics edition, which features simple formatting and, in most issues, an image or two - usually a photo of the featured wine's label; sometimes a photo to accompany the main article, or perhaps an advertiser's discreet banner or logo.

If you would like to change to (or from) the Graphics edition, please note that you can easily switch between formats and editions at any time by clicking the personalized hotlink in the "Administrivia" section just below.


Administrivia

To subscribe or unsubscribe from The 30 Second Wine Advisor, change your E-mail address, or for any other administrative matters, please use the individualized hotlink found at the end of your E-mail edition. If this is not practical, contact me by E-mail at wine@wineloverspage.com, including the exact E-mail address that you used when you subscribed, so I can find your record.

We do not use our E-mail list for any other purpose and will never give or sell your name or E-mail address to anyone. I welcome feedback, suggestions, and ideas for future columns. To contact me, please send E-mail to wine@wineloverspage.com

All the wine-tasting reports posted here are consumer-oriented. In order to maintain objectivity and avoid conflicts of interest, I purchase all the wines I rate at my own expense in retail stores and accept no samples, gifts or other gratuities from the wine industry.

Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2003
Copyright 2003 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.

Subscribe to the 30 Second Wine Advisor

Wine Advisor archives