Saturday, August 28, 2010

Catena Alta Malbec 2005

When I think Malbec, I normally think "good to very good wine and great value." There are so many pleasant Argentinian Malbecs out there in the $15 and under category, that it's almost too easy to find good values. Lets face it fellow wine geeks - part of the thrill of a great value is the hunt itself - right? So a few years ago I asked my friend Ryan Seward, currently the Wine Education Director at City Wine Merchant ( ), to set up a South American tasting for me and some of my friends so we could try to discover some more unique Argentinian and South American wines. Among other things we discovered a crazy Chilean Pinot and a really interesting Argentinian Syrah, but the star of the show was clearly the Catena Alta Malbec 2005.

In your glass you will see a very intense inky purple color and you will breathe in aromas of dark berries, plum, and leather. This is a wine that I could swirl and smell for a good half an hour without even taking a sip. In your mouth you get dark berry and black cherry fruit with a mix of mild spice and a hint of chocolate. The wine has a beautiful, rich mouthfeel without being overwhelming, and the well integrated tannins are just perfect.

I have to confess that this wine has single handedly changed my perception of what Malbec can be. I always thought of it as a really nice everyday wine that really had no place at the table for special occasions, but this Catena Alta Malbec is one of my all time favorite reds. It brings the great fruit that Malbecs can have, but underneath all that fruit there is additional depth and complexity that take this to a higher level. Here is a Malbec that would pair beautifully with grilled red meats. For a true Argentinian food and wine experience, put some flank steak on the grill and make a nice authentic chimichurri to spoon over it. You won't be disappointed.

You can find this wine for just under $50, and it would hold its own against many Cabs that retail for twice the price.


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