The explosion in popularity of malbec red table wines, especially those from Argentina's high and dry Mendoza wine region in the shadow of the Andes Mountains, has led to terrific variety in style and prices. Perfectly good young and brash malbecs can be had for little more than $5 a bottle, and quality and style range upward from there.
The 2013 Achaval Ferrer Mendoza Malbec commands a price of $24 to $25 at big-box wine retailers and small wine shops alike and is well worth it. This is a huge and complex malbec, multilayered and lush. The seductive nose is compounded of robust bramble, plum, blackberry and wood smoke. These flavors, together with a touch of raspberry and soft florals, burst energetically on the tongue and are underscored by a thrill of anise for good measure. The finish, informed by silky tannins, is full and lingering, both long and deep, as befits such a well-rounded and exquisitely balanced wine.
Pair it with a grass-fed rib eye steak sauced in the Argentine green sauce (parsley, garlic, olive oil, oregano and white or red wine vinegar) called chimichurri or maybe a classic cassoulet, that intensely aromatic slow-cooked dish from the south of France based on white beans and some form of pork and ramped up as the cook sees fit with anything from duck confit to garlic sausages.
By Colette and John Bancroft. She is the Times' book editor, and he is a freelance writer specializing in food, wine and travel.