Weekend wines: An affordable red that's great with meat

Red wine and rib eye, a winning combination.

The popularity of malbec from Argentina has soared in recent years. There are now dozens of labels on store shelves, most of them under $20 and some much cheaper.

These inexpensive malbecs are often produced in large quantities, and they include the 2012 Malbec from Alamos in the Mendoza region, the heart of Argentina’s wine industry. I didn’t realize just how big the Alamos output was until I read that 630,000 cases of the new malbec release were imported. That’s 7.5 million bottles. You should have no trouble finding it.

But the real good news is that, despite the scale of its production, this malbec is a very good one. The suggested price is $13, but I saw that one big wine shop here in New York had it on sale for $8, and at that price it’s a steal. (Wine-Searcher shows a number of stores selling it at that price.)

The wine is 88 percent malbec, nine percent syrah and three percent bonarda. The blend contributes to a good deal of complexity, with blackberry, cassis and black cherry notes, a touch of milk chocolate and relatively firm tannins.

This is meat wine, especially grilled steak or lamb, and I suggest chilling it slightly to give it a refreshing lift as you enjoy it this summer. Like many inexpensive malbecs, it drinks well when young, a function of the fact that malbec, which was brought to Argentina from France, ripens easily in the sun-drenched Argentine climate.

This is a winning, well-priced wine that’s perfect for a barbecue and shows why malbec from Argentina has become a hit in this country. (Imported by Alamos USA, Hayward, Calif.)

Edward Deitch is a James Beard Award-winning wine critic. Find many more of his wine reviews and commentary on his blog,, and follow him on Twitter.