Good value Malbec
Let's keep things simple today with a quick focus on a favorite category for affordable enjoyment, the Malbec-based wines of Argentina.
We return to Malbec frequently enough that it doesn't require much of an introduction. To recap, you'll recall that it is one of the minor varieties used in the Bordeaux blend, somewhat falling out of popularity in Bordeaux itself but still turning up occasionally in a supporting role to Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot.
Malbec is also made as a single-varietal wine in the French Cahors region, but it has gained its greatest modern popularity as the signature red grape of Argentina. Rarely an expensive wine, it's easy to quaff, good with pizza, and - perhaps surprisingly - usually a passable quaff even when abused by overcropping and mass-market production.
There's no abuse involved in this tasty Malbec from the firm of French brothers Jacques and Francois Lurton, who make popular and affordable wines from vineyards around the world from France and Spain to Australia, Uruguay and Argentina. Widely available, it's a good buy for well under $10.
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Lurton 2002 Valle de Uco Mendoza Malbec ($8.99)
This appealing Argentine quaffer shows dark reddish-purple in the glass with glints of bright violet. Plummy fruit aromas add a whiff of exotic spice; the flavor is consistent, ripe and fresh, shaped by lemon-squirt acidity. Not overly long or complex, but nicely balanced, good with food, and with time in the glass it opens up to reveal interesting notes of toast and subtle minerality unexpected in a simple wine. U.S. importer: Ex Cellars Wine Agencies Inc., Solvang, Calif. (July 19, 2004)
FOOD MATCH: A great match with garlicky lamb burgers garnished with fresh tomatoes and basil; Malbec is fine with grilled meats, too, and makes a consistently stylish partner with pizza.
VALUE: No complaints about value for less than $10.
WHEN TO DRINK: Not a candidate for long-term cellaring, but it won't hurt to hold it for a year or two.
WEB LINK: Lurton's flashy site offers basic information about the family's international wines in your choice of French or English. It also takes brief control of your computer, expanding its window to a full-screen size without asking first (look for the boxed X at the upper right to escape); if this bothers you, steer clear, but if you have a fast Internet connection, it does put on an enjoyable show with its old-time trans-Atlantic radio theme.
FIND THIS WINE ONLINE: The Lurton Website lists worldwide distributors. Also, you can find prices and vendors for Lurton Malbec on Wine-Searcher.com at this link:
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Friday, Aug. 6, 2004