If you want to really get under the skin of Argentinean wine, you have to think like an Argentinean. And Argentineans spend a lot of time thinking about food. The warmth and generosity of the people is reflected at the table, with abundant plates of food a key part of the nation’s social glue.
A glass of wine will always be accompanied by a snack such as a bowl of local olives or a plate of empanadas (little savoury pasties commonly filled with minced beef). The winemaking heartland around Mendoza still feels the influence of its Italian heritage too, meaning that pasta dishes are another speciality. However, as you might expect in a country where beef consumption averages a whopping 68kg per person per year, wine matching really comes into its own with this most Argentinean of meats. In fact it’s true to say that a glass of Malbec with a good cut of beef, prepared simply, with nothing more than salt as a seasoning, is one of the world’s great food and wine matches.
One of the joys of Malbec is that it comes in many styles: here an easy-drinking, juicy wine bursting with red plum and raspberry notes. This is perfect for a lighter meal, such as pasta, or a please-all choice for a party.
Joffré Malbec 2007/08, Mendoza
£8.49 or £6.99 when you buy 2 bottles*
This fresh, fragrant Malbec from the Joffré family is perfectly poised between vibrant black cherry fruit and elegant structure, and not so heavy as to require red meat. The perfect partner for a herby roast chicken or risotto of spring vegetables.
Amalaya de Colomé Malbec Blend 2007/08, Salta
£8.99 or £6.99 when you buy 2 bottles*
This glossy Malbec blend has a bold brambly character with dense velvety tannins. Its savoury edge can easily handle strong, rich meat dishes like chargrilled steak served with Chimmichurri (Argentina’s traditional olive oil, garlic and herb table sauce).
Catena Malbec 2007, Mendoza
£10.99 or £8.99 when you buy 2 bottles*
A boned rib of beef cooked over a wood fire is the Argentinean equivalent of a Sunday roast. And it’s the perfect match for the juicy acidity, ripe fruit and silky tannins of this benchmark Malbec, which balances Old World finesse with New World purity of fruit.
Benegas Malbec, Libertad Vineyards 2007/08, Mendoza
£17.99 or £13.99 when you buy 2 bottles*
Confirmed Francophile Federico Benegas’ winemaking philosophy is to make serious wines on an artisanal scale. His wines display harmony, depth and an ethereal quality that will appeal to those who normally dismiss New World wines. This example goes beautifully with the meltingly succulent meat and savoury glazed crust of slowroasted leg of lamb – Patagonian or otherwise!
Did you know?
The wines from Cahors in south west France are made predominantly from the Malbec grape, known locally as “Côt” or “Auxerrois”, blended most often with Tannat and/or the fruitier, less tannic Merlot. They tend to have attractive, concentrated blackberry and strawberry fruit characters, a ripe tannic structure and sometimes a hint of toasty oak.
Wines from the South West of France
Château de Gaudou Cuvée Tradition 2006/07, Cahors
£6.99 or £6.49 when you buy 2 bottles*
Packed with ripe Morello cherry and wild strawberry fruit, with the addition of Merlot rounding out the tannins for a softer, more approachable style. Perfect with rare lamb.
Château de Gaudou Cuvée Renaissance 2006/07, Cahors
£10.99 or £9.99 when you buy 2 bottles*
A wonderfully concentrated, spicy, aromatic wine made from 100% Malbec and packed with black fruit, chocolate and subtle oak nuances, this is ideal with beef casserole.
*All prices valid until 26th April 2010