Weekend Wines: Try a perfect summer red from Chile

This lighter malbec is perfect for sipping on a warm summer evening.

If you’re familiar with the wines of South America, then you probably know that malbec is the leading red from Argentina and has driven explosive growth of that variety and other Argentine wines in the United States.

Not to be left in the dust, they’ve taken notice of this in neighboring Chile, where malbec production has been increasing in recent years. And that’s a welcome development based on an excellent Chilean malbec I tasted the other night.

Calcu’s 2011 Malbec from the Colchagua Valley in central Chile comes with the right price, $14, and a refreshing, elegant style with alcohol at just 12.5 percent. That makes it as good a summer red as you’ll find.

The freshness comes through instantly with red- and dark-berry aromas accented by subtle clove and other spices. The tastes include blackberry, sour cherry and blueberry and I was struck by the concentration of the fruit, on one hand, but also by its underlying acidity, which makes it effortless to drink

I liked the lighter style of this malbec and enjoyed it slightly chilled on a warm summer evening. It reminded me of a gamay from Beaujolais in France with its fruity and fresh character.

This is a food-friendly wine that will pair well with all kinds of simply prepared meats, grilled chicken and even salmon.

All in all, it's a balanced and delicious red for summer and beyond. 

Imported by Global Vineyard Importers, Berkeley, California.

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.