Layer Cake wines come from all over, from California, Australia, Italy and, in the case of the 2010 Layer Cake Malbec, from Argentina's Mendoza wine region. It is priced locally from $14 to $17 at big-box stores, wine shops and wine-savvy markets.
As you would expect, Layer Cake has local partners in the regions where its wines are sourced, in this case an outfit called One True Vine. The vineyards that produce the grapes are planted on the rocky terrain along the Mendoza River, which has a climate similar to that of Napa Valley. Grapes grown here tend to be sparse but intensely flavored.
Lush blackberry tempered by light ripe pear characterizes this sturdy red wine's nose, and both open luxuriantly on the tongue, where cassis and a hint of black cherry enrich and nuance those flavors at mid palate. The two top fruits persist all the way through a long, smooth finish, with a bit of black coffee turning up at the end.
Overall, this wine is nicely structured and complex and will easily hold its own in robust food pairings. We'd suggest trying it with roasted lamb loin (don't spare the garlic) or maybe a hearty wild mushroom risotto.
By Colette and John Bancroft. She is the Times' book editor, and he is a freelance writer specializing in food, wine and travel. For an index and archive of reviews, go to pictograph.com.