Bodegas Escorihuela Gascón Malbec Mendoza 2015

Dark violet-purple color; plum, blackberry on the nose; red cherry, red plum, red fruits, licorice, mocha, chocolate, red currant tang on the palate.

Gentle, round tannins; smooth, plush mouth thanks to full malolactic fermentation; full malbec flavors thanks to week-long cold soak and three weeks of skin contact. Seven months in oak delivered restrained oak hints and did not give birth to the oak monster, although this does arrive as oak-tinged fruity forward and approaches jammy on the finish. Effort is malbec with its flamboyant red fruits.

Gascón began in 1884 when Don Miguel Gascón started a winery in Mendoza in the shadows of the snow-capped Andes. Vivid sunlight from the high elevation, alluvial soils, pure mountain snowmelt allowed for the production of wines with brilliant color and intense flavor. That allowed malbec, a stepchild blender in Bordeaux, to star on the world stage when made in Argentina. Today, 75% of the malbec made in the world comes from Argentina, and the best malbecs come from Mendoza.

Malbec hits a remarkable sweet spot. It is more assertive than merlot, but much less aggressive than cabernet sauvignon or wines from Rioja or Super Tuscan/Chianti efforts. Malbec straddles the divide between simple, approachable and “welcome to the big leagues” reds. While a malbec varietal usually does not deliver layers of depth and complexity, it is assuredly consistent as a delicious, easy drinker, and almost always at a fantastic price compared to its highfalutin red wine brethren.

Gascón Malbec Mendoza 2015 is nice first-level malbec that delivers everything you expect and want from an Argentine malbec, plus jammy finish for those who favor that tact. $15

Bodegas Escorihuela Gascón website

Second photo: Gascón vineyard.