You should get to know malbec
By Jeff Siegel
Special to the Star-Telegram
A couple of years ago, no less an authority than Robert Parker suggested that malbec would become the next great everyday wine.
It hasn't happened yet, but Parker's reasoning was sound. Malbec -- which is to Argentina what shiraz is to Australia -- is food-friendly, mostly inexpensive and much easier to drink than similarly priced cabernet sauvignon and shiraz.
So why hasn't Parker's prediction come true?
"I think it's because Americans just don't know it," says Leslie George, who runs the wine department at Market Street in Colleyville. "Americans know cabernet, merlot and shiraz. So there's no reason why we should look for something else."
In fact, malbec is something that even Parker and those of us who drink the $10 stuff can agree on.
It's a red wine with black- and blue-fruit flavors; but with more heft than a California merlot, fewer puckery tannins than cabernet and less of an overwhelming presence than shiraz. It pairs with red-wine dishes such as beef as well as white-wine dishes that include plenty of garlic or some fat, such as roast chicken, to balance its fruitiness.
Malbec, a typical New World wine, came to Argentina from France, where it was used in Bordeaux as a blending grape. The Argentines do some blending with malbec, but for the most part they leave it alone, and they have figured out how to make it the star of its own wine. Some of this might be a function of where it's grown, in the high-altitude Mendoza region in the Andes.
You might find malbec from elsewhere (both Chile and California do it), but the Argentines are better at it than anyone else.
These malbecs will give you a good look at what the grape offers. Serve them at room temperature; if they're too cold, they lose some of their distinctive character......
Mapema Malbec 2003 ($22). An outstanding example of what can be done with malbec if you're willing to pay more. All the classic fruit is there, but so are oak and intriguing minerality (something not often seen in this style of wine). It's a bright, lively wine.
Cheers to Fort Worth for being one of the best Malbec supporting cities in Texas! Ali