- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Dona Paula, Malbec, Lujan de Cuyo, 2006, $13

Argentine malbec is a contemporary success story. This grape, an import from southwestern

France, was propagated in the Andean foothills about

150 years ago, but only in the past decade or so have wines made from it become international stars — and what stars they are.

Rich and ripe but soft and supple, malbecs offer wonderful value, giving Argentina’s vintners easy entry to the global marketplace.

Why malbec stars on its own in Argentina while it plays only a minor role elsewhere in the winegrowing world remains something of a mystery. Perhaps the answer lies in the vineyards. The best, such as those in Lujan de Cuyo in the province of Mendoza, are located at high altitude, where the vines receive the benefit of hot sunshine during the day but cool temperatures at night. The results can be lush red wines marked by an evocatively floral perfume and long, anise-tinged flavors, with sufficient acidity to remain focused and not turn flabby.

Dona Paula’s youthful 2006 malbec tastes of plums and dark cherries. Tasty now, it should be even better with six months to a year of bottle age. True to its Argentine heritage, this wine will pair well with any beef dish. It also should be a fine partner for pasta dishes with tomato-based sauces.

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