Valle Calchaqui, Salta, Argentina, $28
From a northerly region best known for Argentina’s signature white wine, torrontes, comes this spicy, lithe malbec that dances across the palate with blueberry and black-fruit flavors and a subliminal message that life might be even more exciting than we realize. The 2009 may still be available in some stores and is also recommended.
Washington Wholesale in the District: Available at Ace Beverage, Bell Wine & Spirits, Cairo Wine & Liquor, Calvert Woodley, Connecticut Avenue Wine & Liquor, Continental Wine & Liquor, De Vino’s, D’Vines, MacArthur Beverages, Magruder’s, Pearson’s, Potomac Wine & Spirits, Safeway in Georgetown, Sheffield Wine & Liquor Shoppe, Rodman’s; on the list at BlackSalt, Bobby Van’s Steakhouse, Cuba Libre, Darlington House, Luigi’s Pizzeria, Mio. Reliable-Churchill in Maryland: Available at Cranbrook Liquors in Cockeysville, Frederick Wine House, I.M. Wine in Fulton, Town & Country Wine Liquor Etc. in Easton, Pine Orchard Wine in Ellicott City, Richburn Discount Liquors in Columbia, Wine Source in Baltimore; on the list at Bistro Blanc in Glenelg, Blue Hill Tavern in Baltimore, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse in Annapolis and Baltimore. Country Vintner in Virginia: Available at Arrowine and Curious Grape in Arlington, Wine House in Fairfax, Total Wine & More in Fairfax and Sterling; on the list at Entyse Bistro and Evo Bistro in McLean, Society Fair in Alexandria.
Mendoza, Argentina, $55
The Catenas are Argentina’s first family of wine, and Bodegas Catena Zapata produces malbecs that cost $15 or less (the Alamos line) as well as stunning single-vineyard examples priced in the triple digits. The Alta 2009 bursts forth as though a beast has been imprisoned inside the bottle. After shaking itself loose, it settled down and showed the impeccable balance and intensity of fruit for which Catena is known. Best to decant it for awhile before dinner. The Catena Malbec 2010 ($23) is more widely available and also quite good.
Winebow: Available in the District at 1 W Dupont Circle Wine & Liquors, Barmy Wines & Liquors, Bell Wine & Spirits, Calvert Woodley, Circle Wine & Liquor, Connecticut Avenue Wine & Liquor, D’Vines, Local Vine Cellar; on the list at BLT Steak, Cafe Milano, Del Frisco’s Grille, Elisir, Fiola, Fogo de Chao, Morton’s the Steakhouse (both locations), Prime Rib. Available in Maryland at Balducci’s and Cork & Fork in Bethesda, Graul’s Wine & Spirits and Wine Market in Baltimore, Montgomery County Liquor & Wine Stores in Potomac and Bethesda (Westbard Avenue). Country Vintner in Virginia: Available at Balducci’s in Alexandria, Out of Site Wines in Vienna, various Total Wine & More locations, Wegmans in Fairfax.
★★1 / 2
Mendoza, Argentina, $22
Zuccardi makes a dizzying array of wines, many of them bargain-priced. Their “Serie A” malbec ($15) is textbook. The Q, while a bit more expensive and not as widely available, is more expressive. It is a blend of malbec from vineyards the Zuccardi family tends in four areas of Mendoza, combining the attributes of sun and soil into a delicious wine that might steal some of the attention away from dinner.
Country Vintner: Available in the District at Calvert Woodley, Paul’s of Chevy Chase, Potomac Wine & Spirits, Rodman’s. Available in Maryland at Balducci’s and Georgetown Square Beer & Wine in Bethesda; Finewine.com in Gaithersburg; Old Line Fine Wine, Spirits & Bistro in Beltsville; Pine Orchard Wine in Ellicott City; Rodman’s in Wheaton and White Flint.
Patagonia, Argentina, $13
This wine from Patagonia is new to our market and hasn’t caught on yet. It should. It’s lively and delicious, with blueberry fruit, some cinnamon and clove spice and a nice, meaty aspect that stirs the appetite.
Kysela: Available in Virginia at Curious Grape in Arlington, Market Cellars in Reston, Whole Foods Markets in Alexandria and Fairfax. Available in Maryland at Finewine.com in Gaithersburg.
Mendoza, Argentina, $15
Bodegas Salentein introduced this new malbec to be a more casual, fruit-forward wine for easy enjoyment while waiting for its other wines to age gracefully in the cellar. It is exuberant and delicious, with olive, tea, blueberry and spice notes.
RNDC: Available in the District at Connecticut Avenue Wine & Liquor, Continental Wine & Liquor, Manhattan Market. Available in Maryland at Spirits of Mt. Vernon in Baltimore. Available in Virginia at Rio Hill Wine & Gourmet in Charlottesville.