Alamos Red Blend, Mendoza 2013

Inky dark with hint of magenta on the rim; dark fruit, raspberry on the nose; plum, raspberry, black cherry, cola, smoke, brown spice on the palate.

Blend of 60% malbec (Argentina’s signature grape), 25% bonarda (Argentina’s #2 red grape), 9% tempranillo (Spain’s premier red grape), and 6% syrah (one of the great grapes of France’s Rhône region)—so this is marriage of red grape royalty in Spanish-speaking wine countries with a dollop of French tossed in. Nicely balanced easy drinker, savory, smooth, some acidity. Very subdued tannin.

Gallo distributes this wine in the United States, so you should be able to easily find this (and other Alamos varietals). You will notice some name issues—the wine distributed by Gallo in the U.S. is labeled Alamos (Spanish word for poplar/cottonwood tree); the winery label is Catena; the official name of the winery is Bodega Catena Zapata (bodega is Spanish for winery). Faithful followers of my reviews already know of my high regard for this maker—one of the three pinnacle producers in Argentina.

Alamos Red Blend, Mendoza 2013 is wonderfully serviceable pop-and-pour. It is not sophisticated—Catena, the maker, makes higher-shelf wines that nicely fill elevated niches—but it clearly scores as a wonderful Wednesday pizza night or second-bottle wine. $10-13

Alamos Wines website

Catena Wines website

Other photo: Catena Winery