Name: 2003 Catena Malbec
Region: Mendoza, Argentina
Price: $14.95 to $24.99
South American wines are undergoing a revolution. Inexpensive land prices and a farming culture that dates back thousands of years, gives South America a competitive edge in today's wine marketplace.
Argentina is South America's largest and most important wine growing region. Fortunately, Argentinean wines are emerging from the awkward adolescence that resulted from their newfound marketplace exposure. High demand for South American wines over the past ten years created a schizophrenic supply of wines whose style and quality were all over the map. These days we can purchase Argentinean wines with more confidence as winemakers have a better grasp on what consumers want to drink.
The Argentinean vineyards are located on the western strip of the country, which are protected by the Andes Mountain range. The sub-region of Mendoza is found in the far west of this strip; Mendoza is Argentina's largest wine producing province and quite possibly the source of Argentina's best wines.
Bodegas Zapata Catena has been making wine in Mendoza for over one hundred years. After immigrating to Argentina from Italy, Nicolas Catena managed to create one of the world's largest family-owned and operated wineries. Bodegas Zapata Catena consistently makes good quality wines at a reasonable price.
Malbec is a black grape variety that is sometimes blended with Bordeaux but commonly found in Argentina. The 2003 Catena Malbec should be dark black in color with a rustic old world quality, spicy cherry, licorice, violets, some pepper. This is a tannic wine that should be gripping and chalky. A perfect match with grilled steak.
Stores: PJ Wine $14.95 (4898 Broadway between 204th and 205th Streets), Beacon Wines $19.99 (2120 Broadway between 74th and 75th Streets), Astor Wines $21.99 (399 Lafayette at 4th Street), Zachys $24.99 (16 East Parkway, Scarsdale)