In some quarters, the wines being made by South American vintners from the malbec grape, which was transplanted to the continent from its native France in the mid-19th century, have an undeserved reputation for being a bit thin, for looking good but suffering from a lack of substance.
The 2007 Gascon Malbec from Argentina's celebrated Mendoza region (about $13 at wine shops and big box stores) soundly refutes this popular slander. It is a full and sleek red wine, with well rounded, mouth-filling tastes of dark berries, black cherry and even a little coffee up front and a long complex finish that lingers agreeably on the back of the tongue. The tannins that give a red wine legs are present in abundance, but they are soft and silky with no hard edges.
The Don Miguel Gascon winery has been producing wines from grapes grown in high-altitude vineyards along the cordillera of the Andes Mountain since 1884. The finesse it has achieved over the years shows clearly in the 2007 malbec.
We would not hesitate to pair this wine with grilled red meats, hearty winter stews or even aggressively red-sauced pastas. This plucky malbec harmonizes robustly in muscular company.
By Colette and John Bancroft. Colette Bancroft is the Times' book editor. John Bancroft is a freelance writer specializing in food, wine and travel.