Very few of the $25-or-less everyday wines we write about — none of the whites, of course, and only a small handful of the reds — benefit all that much from breathing time before the first glass is poured. Most will sip just about the same from first to last, assuming they are consumed at a single sitting and not recorked for storage, too much oxygen exposure being much worse that too little.
This week's wine, the 2009 Clos de los Siete (about $20 at big box stores), a fine and complex red blend from Argentina's Mendoza region, is one of the exceptions. Pull the cork 30 to 60 minutes before serving and you will be rewarded with a much rounder and better balanced wine.
Malbec is unmistakably in the lead in this well-tuned, muscular blend, abetted by lesser amounts of merlot, cabernet sauvignon, syrah and petit verdot.
Its savor, flavor and color are all quite dark: a deep garnet as it splashes into the glass, a nose of spiced black plum, and a complex profile on the tongue compounded of black plum, fig, lush blackberry and a bit of bramble for edge. Tannins are full-blown, lending the wine an agreeable underlying astringency. The finish is moderately long and assertive, with gunpowder tea and clove making a brief appearance about halfway through.
Pair this wine with earthy fare like wild mushroom ravioli in porcini cream sauce.
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.