Hi - What can anyone tell me about Melbec? I'm starting to investigate Argentinian wines and would like to start with Malbecs.
Malbecs are deep, dark red wines. They've been used mostly as blending components in American and French (bordeaux) reds though the Argentinian ones are sold as a varietal. To me, they taste like a softer, more rounded Cabernet Sauvignon with a smooth earthy finish. If you like a heavier red wine with a little less tannin than a Cab, a Malbec might be a nice change of taste.
I don't remember 2005 being a great year for Argentinian Malbecs (2003 and 2004 seemed better) but there's at least a couple out there that are ok. For some wineries, I've had reasonably good bottles from Bodegas Norton, Catena Zapata (in the $10 range) and Altos Los Hormigas (the 2004 reserve was excellent though it cost around $20). Hope it helps.
It DOES help! Thanks very much, makalu.
Thanks to the Argentine economy, most Argentine wines remain good values here. Some, like Weinert, can go for $60+, but many values are under $10. Those makalu mentioned are very good starts. Terrazes de los Andes, Dona Paula, Sur, Gascon are some others, all around $10, some more, some less. As makalu mentioned, many of these have a "reserve" in addition to a lower-end wine. But the reserves are maybe $14 instead of $8, still very inexpensive. So why not buy the reserves, which are usually a bit better for the additional few dollars. The reserve Altos de las Hormigas for example, is $15 where I buy it and is a great wine.
And malbec is also the main grape in Cahors, so you may want to try some of those - Chat. Lagrazette, for example. The grape rarely ripens to the same degree as Argentina in France, so the French versions are much more tannic. The climate, sunlight, and in particular, elevation, of most vineyards in Argentina make the grape ripen much differently than in France, Australia, or the US.
There are a few from Australia - I think Galah (?) had one and I've had a couple others. Also, a very few people in California are making them. In all cases, the Argentine wines are less expensive, softer, and to me, nicer. The grape just works in Argentina.
Don't overlook Argentine cabernet sauvignons or blend either. Norton Privada is a blend that you might like.
Or other grapes. Bonarda is a lighter red grape. Or the whites - torrontes for example has a beautiful aroma and can be quite nice.