Wine: Argentina's mights Malbec
Argentina's Andes mountainrange is the world's highest outside of Asia. It is hard to imagine that the mountain valleys around Mendoza city produce 85pc of the country's wine. It's an exceptional achievement, considering Argentina is the fifth largest producer of wine in the world.
Irrigation from the mountain tops' snowmelt makes grape growing possible and the vineyards are too far inland to feel any cooling benefits from the Atlantic ocean. Planted on the foothills over 600m above sea level, the grapes thrive.
Malbec is Argentina's signature red wine. Most Malbecs are typically generous in fruit and full in body with potent alcohol and an assertive oaky influence. The bold masculine flavours prefer dark meaty dishes. We conducted a blind tasting of 30 Malbecs under €20. These are the pick of the bunch:
1) Malbec & Malbec 2013, Blend de Terroirs, Bodegas Callia, San Juan 13.5pc
Savoury aromas whet the palate for the delicious fresh fruit flavour and piquant acidity with gentle tannins and a very long fruity finish. Match with Hungarian Goulash.
€14.99 World Wide Wines, Waterford; Callan's, Dundalk; Holland's, Bray. In Dublin: McHugh's Off-licences, Kilbarrack & Artane; Baggot Street Wines; Morton's Ranelagh and drinkstore.ie
2) Malbec Reserve 2014, Monterosa, Mendoza 13pc
Fruity and herbal scents. Attractive black berry pulp and skin flavours, gentle tannins and a long fruity finish. Serve with duck in a plum sauce.
€9.99 at select Eurospar, Spar and Mace nationwide
3) Malbec Reserva 2013, Finca Las Moras, San Juan, Cuyo 14pc
An intense palate with a full-bodied berry core and finish with sandy textured tannins. Try with corned beef and pickled red cabbage.
€11.99 at La Touche Wines, Greystones and in Dublin: Londis KCR, Terenure; The Vintry, Rathgar; Jus de Vine, Portmarnock and The Yard, Kilmainham
4) Malbec Estate 2013, Chakana Andean Wines, Mendoza 14.5pc
Deliciously austere with the alcohol masked by the depth of spiced fruit, supported by tannins and integrated acidity. Enjoy with venison sausage.
€13.99 from J&C Kenny at Shannon Knights; Number 21 off-licences, Waterford, Carrick-on-Suir, Middleton, Charleville, Blarney, Ballincollig and Coburg Street, Cork; Matson's, Grange and Thomas Woodberry's, Galway
5) Malbec 2012, Tomero Wines, Uco Valley 14pc
Delicious spiced berries and plum palate. Firm with supportive tannins and a long spicy finish. Serve with lamb cutlets glazed with mint jelly.
Reduced to €14.39 from €17.99 during the Argentina Promotion until October 31 at Curious Wines, Cork and Naas and curiouswines.ie
6) Malbec 2013, Catena, Mendoza 13.5pc
Intensely flavoured, spicy, oaky and medium-bodied with spiced plums on the finish. Enjoy with steak slicked with a smoky barbecue sauce.
€18.99 at Dunnes Stores and O'Brien's Off-licences nationwide; Brown's Vineyard, Portlaoise; La Touche Wines 4U, Greystones; On the Grapevine, Dalkey and The Vintry, Rathgar
Vouvray 2014, Pierre Bonnet, Loire, France 11.5pc
Delicious off-dry light-bodied style of Chenin Blanc with a ripe honeydew melon and crisp citrus lemon refreshing acidity. A perfect cheese partner. €8.99 introduced for Aldi's French Wine Sale, limited stock at Aldi stores nationwide.