Malbec value

Terrible news for Argentina; fabulous news for us.

Argentine malbecs have been values for years. In early 2014, the Argentine peso plunged almost 20 percent against the American dollar.

That happens in Argentina, a country with Italian and Spanish traditions. Not exactly rock solid foundations for stable government and economic wisdom, but—hey—they do pretty good with wine.

The plunging Argentine peso should mean even better pricing on malbecs in the US. Can we shout “hallelujah/alléluia” together?

Malbec is a marvelous story. Half a world away from its roots, malbec finds its metier. A minor blending grape in Bordeaux, it arrives in Argentina where Pacific fogs roll over Andes mountains to kiss sky-high vineyards in a land where January is high summer. That is the way of wine. Soil and climate and talent come together and—magic.

Malbec is dark in color with a distinctive magenta-tinged rim against the glass. Climate affects flavor: cooler engenders black cherry (Patagonia, France), moderate produces raspberry and plum, warmer evokes blackberry (Mendoza).

Anyone, any fruit, can make wine. Miracles happen in Argentina with malbec. Argentines may not know how to run a country or manage an economy. They may foolishly decide to make war against Great Britain over forlorn, storm-lashed islands nobody cared about except Margaret Thatcher. But, give them their due, they craft fabulous wine from forgotten French grapes.

So, while we again cry for Argentina, scarf up a few stable US dollars to purchase some of the best values in wine today.

Tasting notes:

• Colores del Sol Malbec Mendoza 2010. Medium body, black fruits, low-tannin. $12

• Ruta 22 Malbec Patagonia 2011. Black cherry, some raspberry, plum; smooth, delicious value from southernmost tip of Argentina. $13

• Alamos Malbec Mendoza Selección 2011. Rich, smooth, blackberry, plum, mocha; light tannins, superb finish; Alamos is consistent value winner. $17

• Catena High Mountain Vines Malbec 2011. Ripe, rich, spicy, juicy, fruity, chip of chocolate; silky medium body from benchmark maker. $18

Last round: I am not a wino. I am a wine-yes.