Bodegas Escorihuela Gascón Reserva Malbec Mendoza 2014

Dark violet color; blackberry, plum on the nose; plum, black cherry, brown spice on the palate.

Dry, full bodied, vivid flavors, solid with nice flutters of smoke, chocolate and black pepper. Expected round tannins, easy acidity, plushness in the mouth, nice finish. Oak is not over-done; 65% of the juice aged 15 months in combination of medium-toast French and American oak barriques. 97% malbec and 3% petit verdot (which adds pinch of chocolate to the effort).

Gascón is a Gallo product now, which means it is widely available and well-managed. The Reserva is more serious, rounder, more polished, with darker fruit flavors than the year-younger Gascón Malbec Mendoza, but both are solid malbec performers.

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, sort of a stepchild blender in Bordeaux, to star on the world stage. 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 assuredly consistent as a delicious, easy drinker, and almost always at a fantastic price compared to its red wine brethren.

Bodegas Escorihuela Gascón Reserva Malbec Mendoza 2014 is the more expensive, darker, more complex Gascón malbec. In this context, it is smoother than its younger version but that is a relative term since almost all malbecs are smooth. This is superb example of quality Argentine malbec, deliciously drinkable, nicely priced for its quality. $25

Bodegas Escorihuela Gascón website

Second photo: Worker in Gascón vineyard