The Austin Chronicle

Wine of the Week

, January 3, 2014, 10:15am, On the Range

In the mood for a luscious bottle of wine under $10? Wines from Argentina are always a good bet in that price range.

Argentina's most popular exports are the fragrant white wine called Torrontés and the velvety and intense red wine called Malbec. Much of the recent renaissance of the country's wine industry started with the efforts of Nicolas Catena, a fascinating man with a PhD in Economics. He left Argentina during its economic and political troubles in the Eighties. Catena taught at Cal Berkeley and developed a plan in conjunction with Robert Mondavi to change the production standards of Argentina’s wines from basic bulk wines to more premium endeavors. At first, everyone thought he was crazy, but instead, he ended being one of the country’s winemaking pioneers. His budget export label is called Alamos and their Torrontés ($10, pronounced tore-on-TEZ) is a near perfect example of the grape. Imagine combining the aromas of paper white flowers and fresh peaches and you’ll have an idea of the seductive qualities of this wine.

Malbec is now Argentina’s de facto premium red wine. For years, the Argentines tried to build a reputation for great Italian-styled wines, but thanks to the perfect combination of weather, location, and grape, they have settled in with this silky Bordeaux varietal. Again, every good wine shop has at least a few Argentine Malbecs. One you should look for is called The Seeker ($10). Like many other Argentine wine-making companies, The Seeker is aiming to be known as much for its green practices as for its wine. In their words, “To maintain a lower carbon footprint, all wines are bottled with ecova lightweight glass and printed materials are locally sourced and sustainable... and the fruit that goes into the Malbec comes from a winery that promotes biodiversity in the vineyards and utilizes a comprehensive recycling and water conservation program.” We appreciate their dedication to the earth, but we also love how great the wines tastes.

All of the best wine stores in the area will have a good selection of both grapes and, as always, nothing beats finding a good salesperson you can trust and then letting them know that you are giving them all of your business. That way, they develop loyalty to you and they will eventually learn your tastes and be able to give you better recommendations. The Alamos wines are widely available at better wine shops. The Seeker is available at many H-E-B wine departments or can be ordered at your favorite shop.

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